Over the pre-Thanksgiving weekend, as their alma maters clashed waspily in the Harvard-Yale game (Yale won) and as the candidates themselves went for highly publicized jogs (Governor Bush is faster), Al Gore and George W. Bush spinners continued their grating arguments for and against manual ballot recounts in Florida. In this battle of repetitiousness, conducted in any media forum available and with virtually interchangeable spokespersons -- bench Jim Baker for Marc Racicot; tag in David Boies when Warren Christopher starts falling asleep -- it's not particularly easy to warm up to either side. Indeed, in this respect, the post-campaign is very much like the campaign itself.
During the past month of the presidential race, "objectivity" in the mainstream media has become virtually indistinguishable from lowering the bar for George W. Bush -- despite the governor's repeated howlers. When Al Gore boasts, the press reports it as more evidence of the "Gore the Exaggerator" story line. And the Bush campaign eggs it on, sending out regular e-mails entitled: "THE GORE DETECTOR, A Regular Report on Al Gore's Adventures with the Truth." But when Bush exaggerates? Yawns.
The Weekly Standard ran a story in July titled "Taking the Second Amendment Seriously," its cover art showing the weather-stained statue of what looks like a militiaman. The article--actually a thick chunk of legalese by George Mason law professor Nelson Lund--turns out to be the latest conservative gush-fest over an April 1999 federal district court ruling out of northern Texas affirming an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Thanks to the NRA, most Americans believe the Amendment already confers such a right. But the federal courts have generally only endorsed a "collective" right to bear arms in the context of a state militia, such as the National Guard.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has been getting
himself dusty in the law library lately. News organizations reported on July 12
that Ashcroft, a National Rifle Association member, had reversed the Justice
Department's long-standing constitutional interpretation of the Second Amendment
(which reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a
free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
infringed"). According to Ashcroft, the amendment protects a robust
individual right to bear arms for every American, and not merely a
collective right limited to militia service, as federal courts have ruled.
It was Sunday morning, Mother's Day. In Washington, D.C., the Clintons were welcoming Million Mom Marchers at the White House before their rally, while near the Washington Monument, the Second Amendment Sisters were beginning to assemble. But in North Michigan, in the town of Menominee near the Wisconsin border, it was also the morning after the local high school's prom, and B.J. Stupak, son of the four-term Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak, had been found dead in his home. The apparently
thriving high school junior -- recently elected president of the student council and named to prom court -- had shot himself.