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Gore's Hail Mary Failed; Now Let's Rebuild the Team | The Nation

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Gore's Hail Mary Failed; Now Let's Rebuild the Team

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The Oakland Raiders lost by one point Sunday, and it was all my fault. My concentration as their most fanatical fan was broken by constantly switching to CNN to watch overpriced lawyers in a mud-wrestling contest in the Leon County Circuit Court. What was I thinking? How could my priorities be so screwed up?

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Robert Scheer
Robert Scheer, a contributing editor to The Nation, is editor of Truthdig.com and author of The Great American Stickup...

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The Super Bowl is still a prize worth pursuing, but the presidential race doesn't matter anymore. The declared winner of that contest will be the loser, done in by the unrelenting hostility of the opposing crowd jamming his signal-calling. Even his most ardent supporters, with an eye on the 2002 Congressional elections, are anxious as they watch their man kill the clock. Whichever way the Florida skirmish goes when it's finally over, for the next two years, George W. Bush and Al Gore will smash repeatedly, for little or no gain, into a very crowded center.

Sure, I'll continue to be outraged at the Bush franchise for pulling off a bogus victory in Florida, giving their man the title despite being 357,852 points behind in the national score. But after mulling this over while I wait for the pundits' parking lot to clear, I've concluded this rigged defeat will be good for the Dems' team, which will come back all the tougher to win another day. Back to the practice field to work on that chad-punching!

Anyway, it's time to turn off the TV and get a life. I just can't watch any more of those instant replays of disconnected chads and folksy judges. Enough with the coaches' appeals to the refs to see if man or nature, i.e. the ground, caused the fumble.

Gore did fumble, but he's played much better in the postseason, and even though he's almost a sure loser, he's a cinch to be be re-signed by the Democrats as their chief signal-caller for the next season. If Bush remains sulking in the locker room, as he has in the past weeks, his performance as President will leave the fans demanding Gore's return.

The good news is that recruiting for the progressive side is going very well. Hillary Rodham Clinton may have to redshirt for a few years while she learns the ropes, but I'm betting on her to be leading the league in no time. Trent Lott should have been thrown out of the game for his un-sportsman-like conduct suggesting that Hillary might be hit by lightning before she was able to take her place in the Senate, but it will only make her a stronger force. Then there's Maria Cantwell, who pulled off a big one for the Dems in Washington state last week, which the league finally certified. With four first-round draft picks who are strong pro-choice women added to the Senate, it's the end of the season for overturning Roe v. Wade. Beginning with abortion, in fact, forget any serious sweep to the right on social issues, or you can kiss Republican chances goodbye next time.

Cantwell's victory brings the Dems up to equal strength in the Senate if Bush is president, and ahead by a lone Republican vote if Gore should pull off a miracle and claim victory (thus taking Joe Lieberman out of a Senate seat that would go to a Republican). In either case, a single defection, say of John McCain, who has already stated he won't be following Lott's game plan, could change the outcome.

The big play in the next Congress will be a McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform end-run that neither Lott nor the House Republican leadership will be able to block. That's a rule change giving the fans in the cheaper seats a say, which Bush wouldn't dare to veto.

If the Republicans can still count the trainers' fingers, they know that the unexpected pickup of four Democrats in the Senate and the popular vote victory of Gore secures Bill Clinton's place as a hall-of-famer. Bush only did as well as he did because he stole from the Clinton playbook.

That should put Tom DeLay and his right-wing cowboys in the House out of contention no matter who's the president. Remember that guy Gingrich, who used to play for them? In the end, he was nothing but trash talk; even the Capitol groundskeepers forgot his name.

Sounds like a lot of wait-until-next-year hype? Maybe, but, remember, I'm a Raiders fan. We know nothing ever goes as expected, not even the name of your hometown. We know this is no time for false confidence, because the refs are always against us, and the owner of our team has a way of selling us out just when we think we could be on a winning streak.

We know that if the Dems don't continue to play aggressive ball, and instead fall into some cowardly prevent defense, they could still fold. Then it'll be time to trade Gore.

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