Jewish World Review Dec. 7, 2000 / 11 Kislev, 5761
Al Gore slept here --and there
goes the neighborhood
LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. | During this election
battle in which everyone involved seems to be
operating out of complete self-interest -- but
calling it patriotism and fairness -- it is refreshing
to find someone who is operating out of
self-interest and not pretending that it's anything
other than self-interest.
Actually, it's not a person. It's a paper.
It's the Longboat Observer -- the weekly newspaper of Longboat Key.
The Longboat Observer endorsed George W. Bush for president. The
reason is that Al Gore was using Longboat Key as he prepared for the
presidential debates. Gore appeared to love Longboat Key.
This was ominous news for the Longboat Observer. There's only one main
road on Longboat Key -- Gulf of Mexico Drive, which runs the length of the
island. The idea of Gore winning the presidency, transforming Longboat Key
into his weekend White House, tying up traffic with his motorcades and
making everyone's life more difficult with the Secret Service and mobile
command posts and TV-network satellite trucks everywhere -- generally
the island into a clogged-up armed camp. . . .
The Longboat Observer urged its readers to vote for Bush. If Bush won the
presidency, the Observer reasoned, then Gore wouldn't be able to convert
Longboat Key into his personal weekend fortress.
I have mixed feelings about this. Longboat Key is just about my favorite place
in the world -- and on top of that, the specific establishment where Gore
chose to stay is one that I have been in love with for many years.
It's called the Colony. I come to the Colony just as often as I can -- I do
much of my book writing down here, and I always try to do my final edits
while I'm holed away at the Colony. There's something about waking up and
taking the few steps out onto the sand by the Gulf of Mexico just after the sun
has risen, to walk by the water as far as you can walk until the key ends, then
to head back, pick up some sliced fruit at the little grocery store called
Tastebuds, savor the silence and the sun. . . .
Well, guess who else figured out what a swell place the Colony is?
I have to give him credit for that. Let Bush spend his free time on the dusty
Texas plains -- Gore had the good sense to take one look at the Colony and
figure out that here was a place where he could exhale and try to feel good
In 1996 he did his preparations for the vice presidential debate against Jack
Kemp while staying at the Colony; this year he decided he wanted to come
back to get ready for the presidential debates against Bush.
There was one small -- actually not-so-small -- problem. When Gore was
getting ready to debate Bush, the Colony was closed down for
reconstruction. No guest rooms were being booked while the kitchen was
rebuilt, the rooms got a deep cleaning, a roof was put up over the outdoor
dining area and bar next to the Gulf. . . .
Gore didn't care. He told Murf Klauber and Murf's daughter, Katie Klauber
Moulton, who run the place, that he wanted to stay at the Colony anyway.
And so the Gore campaign got ready for the debates against Bush by coming
to Longboat Key, and to the Colony. Which prompted the Longboat
Observer to ask its readers to vote against him.
The Observer editorialized in October:
"Last week, a longtime Longboat businessman noted that Longboat Key
residents have an extra reason to vote for someone other than Al Gore on
Nov. 7. If Gore wins, he may turn [the Colony] into `Camp Colony' and
destroy our island's peace and quiet. That alone is enough to get out the
Longboat vote and take a stand for laissez faire -- leave us alone."
Political ideology aside, it's hard to argue with the Observer. The Republicans
have been saying the reason not to allow a hand recount of the ballots in
Florida is that it violates the intent of Florida law; the Democrats have been
saying the ballots must be recounted because not to do so would be to
deprive voters of their constitutional rights.
What they both mean is that they want their own guy to win. The
high-sounding reasoning is just a front.
The Longboat Observer is more honest. Its position is:
We don't want Gore to be president because if he wins he will make the
island as noisy and hectic as the steps of the Tallahassee courthouse. We
want Gore to lose so that at dinnertime we can eat our grouper sandwiches in
peace, and gaze dreamily out at the moonlit
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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