It happened today - December 13, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyKlcQ_HiD4 On this date in 2000 Al Gore conceded the U.S. election. For the second time. He had actually called George Bush to admit defeat on election night then retracted it. This time it stuck.

Well, sort of. All kinds of people continued to insist bitterly that Bush hadn’t really won the election, on the grounds that every attempt to count Florida’s ballots properly despite the infamous “hanging chads” produced by deficient voting machines had confirmed Bush’s win. And Gore himself wasn’t exactly gracious.

In his pseudo-concession speech he said he disagreed with the Supreme Court decision that put the chad circus to an end, but that “partisan rancor must now be put aside.” He then proceeded to stoke it by saying “I accept the finality of the outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.”

What he did not say is that he accepted the legitimacy of the outcome. And accepting it for the sake of unity and the strength of American democracy amounts to saying he knew it was wrong but was being gracious. He should have said he lost, however closely, and left it at that, perhaps while also calling for a review of voting procedures across the country.

I confess to thinking at the time that Gore might well be relieved at the outcome once he got used to it. He had been groomed not just for a high-flying political career but for the presidency by his ambitious high-flying parents; his father served seven terms as a Congressman from Tennessee then three as a Senator for a total of 32 years in Congress. And while Al Gore Jr. was good at politics, I was never sure he really found his path in it.

Indeed, for a while he looked happier as an environmental activist, and arguably even more successful. But the flagrant contradiction between his message and his lifestyle, and other signs of an ongoing desperate effort to prove something he could never prove throughout his life, make me think that the political detour, if it was one, went on too long for him ever to find his way back.

I might add that a lot of people were really upset with the outcome in 2000, however it happened, because they too attach too much importance to politics. They thought the world would end if George Bush became president (as many Republicans thought the same thing about Al Gore). Well, it didn’t. Bush wasn’t really Democrats’ nightmare however hysterical some on the left became. And he certainly wasn’t Republicans’ dream however hysterical some of them became.

As for Al Gore, well, I found his concessions to be singularly ungracious. And, I feel in retrospect, not uncharacteristic. Politics is not good for the character or serenity of most of those who devote themselves to it, and it wasn’t for him.