The War of the Would-Be Presidents
Tuesday, November 14, 2000 by Dave Winer.
I've been a fool. That's something I'm loathe to admit. I believed that this was a time for integrity in US politics. It's not going to happen.
Yesterday I listened to NPR much of the day, heard the spin from every corner. I realized we're in a ruthless win-at-all-costs war between Bush and Gore, hosted by the news networks. It's the World Series of US politics. Alan Dershowitz and Laurence Tribe. The US House and Senate. Ex-presidents. It's what the conventions used to be, when they were smoke-filled rooms. It's a pull-out-the-stops war. There's nothing we can do about it.
It's a serious war because the US has nuclear weapons and produces 1/4 of the greenhouse gases. Our stock market is the capital of the world economy. Our military is deployed all over the world. We're brokering the peace process in the Middle East.
To some outside the US, we're the Microsoft of countries. Despised and feared, looked up to with resentment, pitied for our character flaws but blessed with a single language and currency and huge natural resources and other geographic advantages.
Gore and Bush are front-men for already-spent money, with investors who want a return on investment. It's nothing different from the dances that Michael Robertson of MP3.Com and Hank Barry of Napster have to do with the music companies. Money rules. Lawyers run the show. What else is new?
With so many resources and so much power, one-half a US presidency is worth a lot. The investors won't let their guy walk without a dirty nasty fight. Some say if one of them abdicates he'll be in perfect position for 2004. Wrong. The money people would never bet on the guy again.
Abdication would end the career of the man who conceded. Next time around, in private conversations at political fund-raisers, they'll talk about him as a loser, a guy without the guts to see it through.
Neither candidate will back down.