Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Article excerpt

This is about the time Rod Serling walks in and tells what we have witnessed is a dream or a nightmare or something other than a presidential election. The next stop, up ahead, the twilight zone.

As Tuesday night droned on and on and on into Wednesday morning, the word used most often was historic. But weird was more like it.

The big winners: the first lady, a deceased former governor, and a presidential candidate that was yet to be determined. The electoral/ popular-vote split? Who'd have thought Al Gore could win any popularity contest. The Senate? Possibly evenly divided.

And while the biggest question remained unanswered -Who won? - the question of who were the biggest losers was a lot easier. The biggest loser was Ralph Nader, who failed to reach the 5 percent threshold he needed to assure a spot on the ballot in 2004 and $12 million in federal money.

And coming in a close second was the media. Everyone makes a bad call now and then, that's part of life. But the media had Florida playing the hokey pokey all night - declaring it, withdrawing it, declaring it, withdrawing it.

Whatever you want to call this election, historic or once-in-a- generation or weird, its impact is probably easier to figure out than its ballot count. Forget the whole "mandate" conversation. Those hopes went out the window when the numbers looked like they would end up close - and before the hokey pokey.

The question now is whether this contentious race will yield a government that can get anything of substance accomplished. Uniter, divider, it doesn't really matter. After an election like this, there may be some let's-put-the-hard-feelings-behind-us time in the beginning, but those good-time attitudes will evaporate quickly.

And soon, moving legislation in Washington is likely to become the equivalent of moving an elephant through a garden hose.

First off, there is the new House and Senate. It is more evenly split between Democrats and Republicans than before. …

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