The following editorial appeared in today's Washington Post:
Stripped of his last alternative by the Supreme Court, Vice President Al Gore Wednesday night conceded the presidential election to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who responded with an acceptance speech of his own. The remarks of both men were gracious. The tradition of reconciliation after even bitterly fought elections remains strong, and in invoking it, both men offered welcome relief from the scorched-earth tactics and rhetoric of the last five weeks. They also sent the right message to their followers. To wrest the White House away from the party in power in a period of peace, prosperity and relative social contentment is a major political accomplishment, no matter how narrow the victory and exceptional the circumstances. Mr. Bush deserves full credit for having achieved it. The country needs to join in wishing him well. That's as true of those who expect to oppose his policies as of those who expect to support him.
This election has been like no other in more than a century, not just in its closeness but in the strain it put on the political and electoral systems and the judiciary. The strain was the greater because of the bitter partisanship that has characterized recent national politics. We wish that in the post-election period both candidates had found the means to rise above that -- that they could have acknowledged that they had fought to the equivalent of a draw and could have agreed on a method of resolving it that the public might have regarded as fair. Winner and loser alike would have been the better off. Now the parties have no alternative but to dig out as best they can from the debris. Wednesday night was a start in that direction, and therefore welcome.
Justice John Paul Stevens suggested in dissent Tuesday night that the courts were among the casualties in the election, in that their reputation for impartiality may have been lastingly harmed. Every citizen has to hope that's not so. Because the political system was unable to resolve the dispute, maybe there was no alternative but resort to the courts. But no one can want the judiciary to pick the president; it is supposed to be the other way around. But the justices had no clearly good choices. Florida election law is replete with defects, which the closeness of the election only served to accentuate, and the state Supreme Court's effort to patch the defects was itself defective in various ways. Mr. Gore had a month in which to prove his contention that under the rules he and not Gov. Bush finished narrowly ahead in the state, and thus for the presidency. In the end he wasn't able to do it.
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