Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election reflections

On the big day, we got out and voted, which we often have not done. E-voting has not reached Washington County, instead we have mechanical voting machines. My wife was amused to report that she was not entirely sure she had flipped the right switches. Does the little red x appear under or over the name you wanted, she wondered. Hmm, I thought, I'm not sure, maybe I flipped the wrong switch, too. Fortunately, the Electoral College vote was unaffected by our ineptitude. At least we left no chads dangling.

During the day I spoke with a lawyer and got to telling stories as usual and so I reminded him that in my office for almost 10 years I've had the same small bottle of bourbon, with the seal unbroken, that someone brought me in connection with a discussion of election day beverages in Southwest Virginia. We lamented the shabbiness of a last minute mailer in the Congressional campaign. He said as he rang off that he was heading out to the polls to keep an eye on the Republicans.

Another friend of mine called me after dark, as I was still sitting at my desk and he was driving to vote. He said he would flip the switch for Bush, even though he is mostly a Democrat, and even though he mostly aspires to Christian charity and good will, because there are two things he can't abide, and those are gay marriage and Arab terrorists. (Actually, his phrasing was somewhat more colorful, and it made me recollect the comedian who declares, there are three things I can't tolerate: bigotry, intolerance, and midgets.)

As I was leaving our building, a couple was going in as I was going out and I asked them if they had voted. "I don't vote," the woman declared. No? Since they live down in Tennessee, I told them that all I knew of the Congressional race on that side of Bristol was that the challenger's voice on the radio sounds just like Mr. Sulu from Star Trek, and they laughed as I gave them my best impression of George Takei discussing Saddam Hussein.

At home I took out the old dog and looked up the street and observed the lights in all the houses, and I thought it was like the Super Bowl when everyone in the neighborhood is watching the same thing on TV except that there was no halftime. During the day I sneaked a peak at the exit poll numbers on Wonkette and elsewhere. That early impression of a Kerry blow-out gave a sporting aspect to a long night of clicking through the channels, as if Bush made a big comeback between 3 pm and 3 am.

My plan was to watch whomever was likeliest to say something stupid, so early on I watched mostly Fox News until the trend for Bush was clear, then switched to Brokaw and Mathews and Rather and Jennings, eventually focusing on the latter two as the worst of the lot, who stayed in character by insisting on not calling Ohio. While the commentators yakked on, I started looking to see who was winning the West Virginia Supreme Court race and the Lee County circuit court clerk's race and what were the details of the Virginia vote. Did Bush really get 75% in Rockingham County? Holy catbirds. Dickenson and Buchanan counties went for Kerry. Boucher won everywhere, but maybe by fewer votes than usual in Washington County.

I read a lot of late-night craziness on the left-wing blogs, where there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Many of the bloggers with whom I have corresponded are of the left, so I watched them sort of like I watch a Virginia Tech football game, sympathetic but not too sympathetic. I switched back to Chris Mathews, who seemed to be having the most fun of the network people, and fell asleep with the TV on but without my sleeping hat.(My wife always laughs whenever she finds me at any hour of the day or night with all the lights on, the television blaring, and I'm sleeping while wearing a golf hat.)

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