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Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Monday, November 27, 2000

Florida is brimming
with lawyers

WHEN the country's trial lawyers pledged their support to Al Gore and the vice president pledged his support right back, little did we know he'd attempt to personally employ all of them.

The election count in Florida is about 745 to 632. That is, Gore has hired about 745 lawyers and George Bush has 632. These are fluid numbers, because lawyers tend to multiply exponentially. They may have reached critical mass in Florida, but don't bet on it.

The choice of lawyers on both sides has been curious, if the goal was to convince the American public that their side was the side of the angels. As generals running the vast army of litigants, both managed to dig up a couple of cadavers from the past: the Yoda-like Warren Christopher for the Democrats and the Darth Vader-like James Baker for the Republicans.

If it were just a battle between these two ghosts from administrations past, you'd have to give the public relations nod to the impish Christopher. Standing about 3-foot-5 in heels, Christopher projects grandfatherly, jowly goodwill, although we all know he would not have reached the position of secretary of state without being as mean as a snake and just as cold-blooded.

James Baker also is a former secretary of state and thus possesses similar snake-like qualities. He doesn't waste any time trying to hide them. He's the type of legal hardware you drag out when you expect a fierce artillery battle, not a terms-of-peace negotiation.

So Gore would have won the heart of the country had he not augmented the kindly Christopher with the extremely unkindly Bill Daley. The cadaver reference above is appropriate seeing as how Daley's daddy, Richard, fierce overlord of Chicago politics for ages, managed to coerce many real cadavers, people long dead and buried, to vote for John Kennedy for president.

With his shiny bald head and equally shiny suits, the current Daley, as Gore spokesman and campaign manager, embodies every bad stereotype of the Hollywood-drawn shyster lawyer. He looks like he's been dipped in Crisco and could slither through the strings of a tennis racket.

We've all been treated to the glorious result of rampant litigation in the weeks following the election. Many of the country's children probably could pass the Florida bar, having enjoyed a crash course in that state's legal system.

Once off his leash, Daley immediately pounced on Florida's Republican secretary of state, Katherine Harris, savaging her with such relevant points of law as she not only wears too much makeup but is a conniving, lying bimbo. In other words, the usual Clintonesque personal attack on any woman who gets out of line. Baker, meanwhile, set off like Don Quixote on acid to prove hand counting ballots, done in every state, is unconstitutional.

The battle inexorably moved up the judicial feeding chain and at last lodged in the U.S. Supreme Court, although there were indications it might continue on to the World Court in The Hague and ultimately come under the personal jurisdiction of Kofi Annan. After that, it's anybody's guess what will happen. We are in the high country, Al Gore's promised land of no controlling legal authority.

In a country with a less stable form of government, a military junta already would be revving up the tank engines. But I suspect that Bill Clinton, who can't stand having to leave the White House, has convened a focus group to test the nation's appetite for a short stint of martial law.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to

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