Monday, January 05, 2009

Knowing when to call it quits

There was a moment during an episode of the seventh season of The West Wing that I particularly like. It's the dramatic end to the election between Santos and Vinick and lawyers are flying all over the western US trying to make sure that the election is conducted fairly. Finally, it's come down to New Mexico and it's tight, but they finally do call it, and it goes to Santos.

Now the scene I'm thinking of is Vinick surrounded by his closest advisers and several of them are urging him to challenge the election results. That's it's too close and he needs to get the lawyers involved, drafting up challenges for the courts.

And Vinick goes no, that's not how we do things. That there's no way he's going to contest the results of a close election in a court. And that he's going to call Santos and concede defeat.

Now, you can link that to what happened in Florida in 2000 if you want, although the situation in Florida was infinitely more complex than what you're going to get even in a pretty smart drama like The West Wing, but it was still a nice moment and I liked it.

And that's what came to mind when I read this story about the mess that's happening in Minnesota over the senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. I honestly don't care who wins the race. But it was a very close race, there was a mandatory recount, which by all accounts was very thorough, closely monitored and pretty damn fair. And now, even though Coleman was ahead, it appears there were enough miscounts and what not to give Franken a minute edge of about 225 votes. Considering I think there was 1.8 million votes cast, that really is a tiny number.

Look, someone has to lose. It's going to suck for the loser because it was a hard-fought campaign with a lot of bad blood between the two men. Losing under the best of circumstances sucks, but losing by 200 votes to a guy you hate, well, that puts it at a whole new level.

But at some point you have to be a man and just admit you lost. The people voted and people, to the absolute best of their ability, went through close on two million votes to make sure things were done right and you came out the wrong end of it. Do you really want to be the man who went crying to the courts to try and get them to make you the winner?

I don't know why this interests me so much. It's a Minnesota senatorial election after all. I would be hard pressed to find something of less significance to me if I tried. But the closeness of the race, the passion involved with it while it was happening and one of the candidates threatening to go crying to mommy does draw me in.

I just hope Coleman does the hard, but honourable, thing and concedes. Then again, there was a reason why so many critics said The West Wing was a fantasy. In the real world, most politicians don't have the same sense of honour and decency that Vinick did in that show. More's the pity, really...

Last Five
1. M.I.A. - Foo Fighters
2. Bone machine - Pixies
3. Mr. Zebra (live) - Tori Amos
4. The Great Salt Lake - Band of Horses*
5. Requiem for a dying song - Flogging Molly


KOTN said...

Have you read "Lying liars"? That is why Al Franken belongs in the Senate.

Just take his fictional essay of all the right wing guys who ducked the draft together in a Swift Boat.... they mutiny against John Kerry.

Thomas Jefferson would be proud.

ThePerfectStorm said...

Coleman originally urged Franken to concede. He was concerned for he "healing process", and the "magnitude" of the change should the recount alter the results.

That was back when the initial results said Coleman was on his way to a squeeker of a win.

Let's hope he's a man of his words, and sees the wisdom in them still:


ThePerfectStorm said...

...and anyone laying bets on the word of a politician deserves the representation they get....

Coleman Sues Over Minnesota Recount (oh. my. quell surprise.):


Delores Burton said...

Hi Craig,

I hate to nitpick, but it was Nevada, not New Mexico in that episode of West Wing. Santos didn't even remember being there. Josh told him he had touched down for about 20 minutes in an airplane hanger.

Pretty sure that puts me in the league of Trekkies shouting there is no warp eight! (stole that line from Lynn Crosbie) but it's a flaw of my character. I cannot let a West Wing inaccuracy, however trivial and insignificant, stand.

Incidentally, there is a movie about the 2000 election worth watching. It' s called Recount, with Kevin Spacey, Dennis Leary and Laura Dern. HBO film. Surprisingly obscure, but I thought it was well done and should have gotten more attention. If you have not seen it already, give it a try.

I enjoyed your post on Sports Night. I have not seen it yet, but I expect to buy the DVD eventually. I now know what to expect.


towniebastard said...

Damn it, I knew it was a southwest state. Cathy told me to put on the episode, but I got lazy.

And there's nothing wrong with being a fan of good writing.

I've tried watching Recount, which I know is good and has a great cast, but the whole subject is still so massively depressing that I can't handle watching it.

And if you like West Wing, then Sports Night will freak you out, a lot. Especially in the first season. I'm not seeing the similarities quite so much in the second season.