Column: Will history call Gore a sore loser?

"This cannot go on forever." -- Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

"It cannot be an endless count." -- Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

"When the dust settles, Gore will lose." -- Sen. Bob Torricelli, D-N.J.

Al Gore doesn't want to hear this kind of talk from prominent members of his own party. But the reality is that his fellow Democrats are breaking ranks. They recognize that their guy got not one, not two, but three opportunities to produce more votes in Florida than his Republican opponent. Yet, the Democratic Party standard-bearer failed to do so.

So now there are three strikes against Gore. And it is long past time that the recalcitrant presidential candidate took a seat on the pine to await his next chance at the plate in 2004 or later.

Alas, Gore refuses to take his strikeout, his defeat, like a man. Instead, he wants the umps -- that is, the Florida courts -- to give him yet another strike, to negate the unfavorable results of his three -- count 'em three -- previous attempts to score an electoral victory in the Sunshine State.

"If the people, in the end, do not choose me, so be it," said Gore, in a five-minute televised speech this week. "The outcome will have been fair, and the people will have spoken. If they choose me, so be it."

These remarks confirm the assessment of a very concerned Gore insider (as told to the Associated Press) that the vice president is a "lost soul." Gore's use of the present tense -- "If they choose me" -- shows that Gore doesn't even accept that the election has already taken place.

It seems clear that the vice president is in desperate need of an intervention. Maybe Sens. Durban, Dorgan and Torricelli should take Gore aside and gently break the news to him that the voters of Florida have made a choice. And it ain't him.

Unfortunately, Gore is being egged on by Democratic Party enablers such as Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt.

They assured the vice president, during an all-too-scripted televised conference call this week, that they stand four-square behind his campaign to overturn the certified outcome in Florida.

Of course, this places the vice president, as well as the Democratic leadership in Congress, completely at odds with the American people. An overwhelming 60 percent of the public says that Gore should concede, according to three separate polls this week by ABC News/Washington Post, CNN/USA Today/Gallup and Reuters/Zogby.

When confronted with these polls, the vice president responded, simply: "The polls don't matter." That statement reveals that his profession's respect for and deference to "the will of the people" is just so much political sanctimony.

It is all too clear by now that Gore will not go gently into electoral history. He is determined, it seems, to be remembered as the sorest loser to ever stand for the presidency.

Indeed, now Gore has gone so far in his quest for the White House -- committing every possible excess (political, legal and otherwise)-- that he has obviously concluded that there is no turning back.

So irreparable is the damage he has done to his name and reputation in the minds and hearts of his countrymen and women that he can never hope to get this close to winning the White House again.

That's why he's pulling out all the stops. He's on network television almost as much as his anchor pals, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw, trying to reverse public opinion.

He has his trial lawyer pals, who contributed millions of dollars to his presidential campaign, in Florida trying to get friendly Democratic judges to order yet another recount of votes.

He has his rabble-rousing pals, such as Jesse Jackson, in Florida trying to stir up civil unrest among the masses, trying to persuade certain voter blocs -- blacks, Jews and seniors -- that the votes they "intended" were somehow uncounted.

The time has come for Democrats who place the national interest above parochial party interest to tell Al Gore that enough is enough. The vice president needs to call off his lawyers. He needs call off his rabble-rousing surrogates.

Finally, Gore should make but one more appearance on national television. And that should be to concede defeat and extend his best wishes to the rightful president-elect, George W. Bush.

Joseph Perkins is a columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune and can be reached at

Copyright 2000, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.


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