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*Political Asterisks*


Sun, Nov 26th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, November 20, 2000

The asterisk is a wonderful punctuation mark. The star-like figure is used to indicate omissions, footnotes, references, exceptions, etc. In the hands of a grammar-deficient writer like me, the uses become nearly infinite.

Sports statistics are full of asterisks. When Roger Maris broke Babe Ruths single season home run mark of 60 homers in 1961, an asterisk was placed behind Maris name in the record books indicating that it took Maris 162 games to achieve what Ruth did in 154.

The fact that sports writers and fans in general didnt like Maris may have had something to do with this footnote being added to the historical record in the first place. Also, the fact that Maris, a young buck from North Dakota, had beat out his teammate, Americas boy, Mickey Mantle for the homerun crown that year didnt go over very well with baseball pundits. And one cant ignore the notion that Maris was unseating a Hall of Fame American icon in Ruth, the Sultan of Swat.

So Roger Maris, a 280 lifetime hitter, will always be known by baseball fans as the homerun hitter with an asterisk behind his name.
***

A whole litany of *political asterisks* could have been handed out with the election on November 7.

An * for disgusted goes to the television media for first calling Gore the winner in Florida, then retracting it; then calling Bush the winner, and then saying it was too close to call.

If youre disgusted with us, frankly, I dont blame you. CBS Dan Rather told the viewing public that night. We are, Dan.

An * for confused to the state of Florida for the election confusion that has reigned in the state since election day.

A second * for confusion also goes to Palm Beach County for allowing the butterfly ballots which apparently confused voters so much they turned into latter-day-Buchananites.

An * for antiques road show goes to both the Bush and Gore camps for dusting off and bringing forth those great political relics to defend each partys argument. Warren Christopher and James Baker never looked more weary, partisan or grey.

Another * for revisionist nonsense goes to the late President Richard Nixon who, old-grey constitutionalists say, so loved the constitution that he didnt challenge election irregularities in his loss for the presidency to John F. Kennedy in 1960.

This was the same Richard Nixon who got an * for I am not a crook and created the constitutional crisis in 1974 when he fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox over the Watergate debacle, which began with a break-in of Democratic campaign headquarters.

An * for Victorian outdatedness goes to the electoral college, an apparent constitutional safety valve on the publics peasant tendencies to take their franchise seriously, for their winner take all system.

If revolution is the American tradition, it is time to show it to the world...scrap away the Electoral College once and for all. (message found on a chat line on communist Chinas Peoples Daily website).

An * for the grand experiment - democracy goes to the Attor-ney General of Florida. We owe it to the country to do it as absolutely quickly as possible. Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth regarding the re-count, which has taken over a week to complete.

An * for nosy neighbors goes to Fidel Castro of Cuba, who, by the way, is not opposed to free and fair elections, but only wants to know the outcome in advance, for offering to bring election observers to Florida to help with the recount. Gracias, el Presidente.

An * for scary thought goes to South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, 98, President Pro Tempore of the senate, who is 2nd in line of succession after Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert to become president, if no one is elected president by the time President Clinton leaves office on January 20.

The second * scary thought is that Hastert recently replaced Newt Gingrich.

An * for all of those banana republics that have been ridiculed in the past for their bumbling elections.
The Zimbabwe Foreign Minister said that the United States would have imposed sanctions against them if their election results were handled like they have been in Florida.

And lastly, the * for the voters shall prevail goes to the city of Whalan for proving to the world that even a small American city can sort out election confusion.

After initial balloting apparently ended in a three way tie for two city council seats on November 7, a re-count showed that Linda Hazel (23 votes) and Doris Peterson (23 votes) won the two seats over Robert Engen (22 votes). The winners were announced on Thursday, November 9.

It seems, with almost 100% certainty, that historians will place an asterisk or two after the name of the 43rd president of the United States, regardless of who ends up winning the election, George Bush or Al Gore.

One asterisk in particular comes to my mind, * acting president through 2004.

John Trogrimson







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