Mistrust in the Trust
BY MAUREEN DOWD
Finally, Al Gore got wise.
He has called in America's leading trust-buster.
He has stopped
treating W. as a hapless daddy's boy and started treating him
as the face of the ruthless Bush family cartel.
The latest addition
to the Gore legal armada is David Boies, the cunning litigator
who beat Microsoft to a pulp in court and showed it to be a monopoly that
unfairly stifled the competition.
Mr. Boies, whose
knit ties and Macy's suits belie the fact that he is a killer
from Wall Street, showed up in Tallahassee yesterday declaring that the
judge's decision that seemed to be a Gore defeat was really a Gore victory.
If the Democrats'
Perry Mason could turn Bill Gates into a stumbling
incompetent in a deposition, I shudder to think what he could do with W.
The New York
lawyer (whose firm is also taking on price-fixing in the art
world cartel of Sotheby's and Christie's) is making the same argument
about Florida voters that he once made about computer customers: They
have a right to choose their products freely.
"The voters have
spoken and the votes ought to be counted," Mr. Boies said last night.
W. campaigned on the issue of restoring trust. But it turns out he meant restoring the Family Trust.
The Bush monopoly,
after all, has operated in the interregnum with the
same arrogant philosophy as the Microsoft monopoly: You can have all the
choice you want — as long as you choose us.
When questioned by Mr. Boies about stifling fair competition, Mr. Gates would get petulant.
W. is just the
same. The Bush family's elitist mantra — "We were born to
rule. We know best. Leave it to us." — was echoed at Microsoft. Both
monopolies simply assumed that Americans should want what they were
selling. Anybody who disagreed shouldn't count — or get counted.
Ever since the
vice president refused to withdraw from the marketplace,
W. has snippily comported himself as president-elect.
W. keeps acting
as though he needs to get busy with a transition, even
though all he's doing is giving jobs to all the old Bush family retainers and
tiresome former Bush White House officials who are already sitting around
the ranch with him.
How much time and imagination does that take?
The Bushes are
treating Florida as possessively as Microsoft treated the
rest of the computer industry. Jeb Bush runs the Florida subsidiary of Bush
Inc. and was supposed to roll over Mr. Gore the way Microsoft rolled over
rivals in the browser war.
But once Jeb
failed to achieve market dominance in his region, it fell to his
subordinate, Katherine Harris, Florida's secretary of state, to use her
"discretion" to muscle out the interlopers. She knows that if she succeeds,
there might be a big bonus from Bush Inc.: a cushy job as an ambassador
or perhaps support for a Senate run.
strong-arm tactics are reminiscent of those Microsoft
executives who acted like thuggish enforcers of their leader's will, warning
that their company was so important that any kind of assault on them
would be bound to undermine the stability of the Republic and destroy
capitalism and impede the march toward high-tech prosperity.
Mr. Baker held
a press conference yesterday morning to warn of dire
consequences if W. was not immediately installed in the executive suite.
But just as the Bush Inc. not-so- Velvet Hammer was pompously lecturing
about international uncertainty and "disturbed" markets, the Nasdaq and
Dow indexes were sharply rising, running across the bottom of the TV
screen, mocking his words even as he uttered them.
Mr. Baker keeps
acting as though there's some phantom populace
impatiently demanding a swift resolution. That's simply not true.
W., of course,
is eager to slide by with the help of family connections, and
start inaugural partying. But the rest of us are perfectly content to wait for
the arithmetical truth. (And not Mr. Gore's selective truth either, cleaving
to Democratic counties.)
It is not the
tie, but the grating behavior of the contenders in the tie, that is
trying American patience.
At least there's
this to be grateful for: Johnnie Cochran hasn't shown up on
the Gore legal team. (If the chads don't fit, you must acquit.)