As much as I admire Al Gore for putting up the good fight and staying the course, even he must have seen the handwriting on the wall as the Supreme Court grilled and skewered his lawyer yesterday. It was obvious that some of them had made up their minds. Justice Scalia wouldn't even listen to David Boies' answers to his questions.
And it was just as obvious that all of them (except Clarence Thomas, who was apparently present in the room, because otherwise someone would probably have mentioned it) had strong feelings that they were playing out the end game. Either they had problems with the unfairness of the way ballots were being counted by hand, or they were concerned that the federal deadlines couldn't be met.
So, it's all but over. No matter what anyone does or says, George W. Bush will be sworn in next month as the president. Our president.
He will say all the right things, I'm sure of that. About cooperation. About reaching out. About healing. All the wrangling and rhetoric of the last few weeks becomes irrelevant, and we now put our energy into finding a way to live together and work together.
We'll soon know what kind of leadership and statesmanship we have, on both sides. As interesting as this process has been, what happens over the next month or two will have a lot more to do with the future course of history.