As anyone who has been involved in a court case knows, the lawyers' interests do not always coincide with the client's. Certainly Al Gore's interests, not to mention the country's, are not necessarily the same as David Boies' and the battalion of lawyers Gore has hired to represent him. Boies and company have nothing to lose by continuing their legal battles to the bitter end, filing one appeal after the other, no matter how many times they are shot down. But Al Gore has long since ceased to be served well by Boies and his other attorneys. To date, Gore has scored only one substantive legal victory, before the Florida Supreme Court -- and even that victory has now been vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court. It's time Gore fired his lawyers and got on with his life.
No one will ever convince Al Gore that he lost the election. If he had his way, no doubt he would personally count every one of the 6 million votes cast in Florida to satisfy himself that he won after all. He has already hinted that he or his allies will file suit under Florida's freedom of information laws to do so.
Let him believe what he wishes. If he insists on deluding himself that he won, it will only make him an increasingly bitter and unhappy man. But the country should be allowed to move forward without the Gore legal team trying to block the way.
It's time the leaders of the Democrat Party call on Gore to step aside. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt have circled the wagons around Gore for weeks, giving him needed political cover while he pursued his legal challenges. They have proven themselves loyal to a fault. But now there is no justification to continue on this path. And if Democrat Party elders do not intervene to stop this madness, they could find their own fortunes irreparably damaged.
Americans hate sore losers. We expect competitors to shake hands after the competition, and for the loser to congratulate the winner, no matter how hard-fought or close the fight. If the loser in a political competition hopes to compete again, he must lose graciously. Americans believe in re-matches, but they do not believe that participants in a contest have the right to refuse to accept the final results.
Al Gore might learn a lesson or two from Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft, who lost his re-election bid to a dead man, but chose not to contest the election. Ashcroft certainly enhanced his reputation, but he probably also improved his chances at winning some future election. Al Gore might have been able to do the same if he had bowed out earlier.
But of course, he didn't. And, what's worse, Gore has now laid the groundwork to claim victory was stolen from him -- which is exactly what he did in that clever bit of paralipsis on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday. If George W. Bush is inaugurated on Jan. 20, Gore said, he'll be my president, too, and I'll never accuse him of stealing the election. Cute.
It's probably too late for Al Gore to salvage his reputation. He will forever be remembered as the only candidate in history who tried -- and failed -- to overturn a presidential election in the courts. But it is not in other Democrat-elected officials' interests to lash themselves to the mast of Gore's sinking ship.
More importantly, our political system rests on the smooth transition of power after an election. The losing party does not roll out the tanks nor man the barricades -- and it should not continue to throw up legal blockades either, even if there is one more appeal brief that might conceivably be written.
The Gore-Lieberman campaign has had its day in court. Indeed, it has had a month's worth of court days. But the gig is up. Let the lawyers pack their briefcases and Al Gore pack his bags.