Jewish World Review Nov. 28, 2000 / 1 Kislev 5761
Send Bush and Gore to their rooms --
bring in the pros
BUSH by a certified 537 votes as of Sunday night,
and as the nation braces itself for the madness that
will almost certainly come in the days just ahead,
the thought occurs:
We have really blown a fine opportunity here.
Because no matter what happens by Inauguration Day -- if Bush's Florida
victory holds up, if Gore is able to reverse the results, if the U.S. Supreme
Court sends us all in a direction we haven't even thought of yet -- we had the
chance to prove a point.
What do adults do when children won't behave themselves -- when children,
despite every gentle explanation, continue to throw tantrums, to loudly
misbehave, to resist all efforts to persuade them to act in a gentle manner?
Adults -- in these enlightened times -- softly advise the children that they must
observe a "timeout."
A "timeout" is a quiet period when misbehaving children are instructed to go
off, be by themselves, and think about what they have just done.
A strong case can be made that -- for what they and their associates have just
put all of us through -- Al Gore and George W. Bush are deserving of a
timeout. For either of them to be rewarded for the events of the last three
weeks is a terrible signal -- it just encourages them.
Their timeout should last for four years.
And what should be done about the alleged constitutional crisis that would
result from the Bush-Gore timeout?
If neither of them is permitted to serve as president, how shall we, as a nation,
The remedies provided in the U.S. Constitution are not very helpful. None of
the branches of government seems ready to be entrusted with taking over the
stewardship of the republic. The Congress -- at least most of its individual
members -- has been as callow as the presidential candidates. There is not
much hope to be found in the current Cabinet. The Supreme Court has yet to
come to bat -- and to dangle in front of it even a hint of taking over the White
House is too dire a notion even to consider.
No, none of the traditional players appears appropriate to run the country after
these three demented weeks. There is no guarantee any of them would have
behaved any better than Gore or Bush, given the chance.
So . . . what to do?
The answer is to do what many American cities have done -- cities that have
become sick of petty political infighting:
Get rid of the mayor -- or at least strip the mayor of any genuine power.
Instead, hire a city manager.
City managers -- when the system works as it should -- are non-political.
They have no politics-driven agendas: They are hired to get a job done:
Make the city work -- and make it work efficiently.
So, for the next four years, perhaps that is what we as a democracy should
While Gore and Bush are quietly sitting in a corner observing their timeout --
thinking about what they have put us all through -- a city manager, on the
national level, can run the country.
The Congress can still make laws and set policy. The courts can keep
The city manager -- all right, the national manager -- can, without a whiff of
politics, run the United States.
Who should do this?
People not associated with electoral politics in any way.
If we want a person who has bright, forward-looking ideas, a person who can
take the nation in creative directions that will make us look at ourselves in new
and unexpected ways, then a visionary from the world of business -- Jeff
Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, comes to mind -- might be an
If that makes the country nervous -- after all, Bezos, for all his brilliant
concepts, has yet to turn a profit -- we might pair him with a more old-line
businessman who knows exactly how to make things hum on all cylinders and
make big money at the same time. Jack Welch of General Electric would be a
Bezos and Welch -- or two people like them -- could look after the country --
manage it, guide us on a steady course -- while the standard-issue politicians
are in the corner serving their penance.
So have been the events since Election Day. Could we do any worse than
we've been doing since Nov. 7?
Four years from now, if we want to, we can go back to the old way of
presidential campaigns and presidential inaugurations.
But we may not want to. The national manager system may turn out to be the
way we decide to live happily ever
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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