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Friday, November 17, 2000

Is anyone's mind not made up about what should happen in Florida? Positions are hardening, setting like concrete. Everyone knows what they think is right. I find myself, while still listening to the news all day, turning away when I hear the voice of someone I disagree with, because I know what they're going to say. What sounds like sweet reason to me sounds like naked political maneuvering to you. And vice versa.

So there's nothing left to add to the discourse. I've been saying since election night what I believe, and I haven't changed my mind to any great degree anywhere along the way. Now I'm willing to say one more thing. Whoever is standing at the rostrum in a top hat on January 20, shaking hands with Bill Clinton, will be the next president.

In barely over two months, this will all be history, ready to be written into the next generation of textbooks. And we'll move on with a new administration. There will be no coup, no rebellion, no revolution. The "rule of law" that both sides keep referring to will be applied, and the people who voted for the loser will acknowledge the winner as president.

Begrudgingly, with reservations, chips piled high on shoulders, but beyond question.

He will need no police action or military guard to enforce his legitimacy, because that's not how we do things here. Members of the other party will stand and applaud politely when he enters a room. Legislation will be passed and signed over the next four years, and any national crises will be resolved by consensus, cooperation and compromise.

We have a short memory in this country. We've forgotten wars, economic recessions, political scandals and bitter rivalries. Former presidents Ford and Carter, who contested one of our most acrimonious election campaigns, are now best friends.

What we're going through now isn't going to tear us apart or devalue the Constitution. Our institutions are stronger than anything we put them through. We're lucky to live in interesting times, and luckier that we don't have to fear the outcome. We might not like it, and it will be a blow to the agenda of one side or the other, but we'll survive it. We could even find ourselves better for it.

I'm not trying to tell anyone to calm down. I'm not saying people shouldn't be vocal advocates for whatever they believe. That's how we're getting to a resolution of the election situation, and that's how we're going to make progress, now and forever.

I do think we ought to give each other a little more credit, though, and a little more respect. I've been working at it myself, and I'm going to keep trying.

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Defer, defer
To the Lord High Executioner.