OK, wait, hold on: this is not an accurate description of the situation, back then.
Watching Egypt self-immolate, I am taken back to the time when the United States was alight with bitter conflict—to December 2000 and the unresolved presidential election. Admittedly, no one was killing political opponents, and but for a “bourgeois riot” in Tallahassee, Florida, there was nothing more violent than the trading of abuse across the party-political divide. But in a country unaccustomed to electoral ambiguity, there was fear in the air: it was palpable. America was in uncharted territory. The voting was over, the count was maddeningly inconclusive, and the country was on edge, electrified and shaken, awaiting resolution. Most disconcerting of all was the sense that this perilous post-election limbo was so very un-American. This sort of thing happened in Italy, in Argentina, in India, places less serene in their political culture, more turbulent in their ways. Not in America!
I was around in 2000, OK? – And I happened to have voted Libertarian in that election, if I remember correctly. I know I didn’t vote for either Bush or Gore. The mood of the country, outside of the two major partisan political factions’ cheerleaders*, was one largely of weary resignation that neither set of political a*sholes could apparently stop yammering and admit that their side had lost the election**. Couple that with a quiet mass mental note to never again have a close Presidential election, and you’ve got the actual emotion in the air.
Which does not mean that Tunku Varadarajan was wrong when he went on to argue… well, apparently he’s mostly upset that the Egyptian courts are letting ousted Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak out of jail. Which I can understand; it has been the understanding lately that we no longer send ousted dictators off to a cozy retirement in the French Riviera. Putting them in prison instead seemed to be the smart move… but what happens when you end up needing their services again, which is not entirely unlikely in Mubarak’s case?
PS: I do remember that there was a certain amount of confusion and false starts over the constitutional process, assuming that the whole damn thing was thrown into the House of Representatives. And Senate! …Which might have ended up, depending on the dates, with George W Bush being President, and Al Gore casting the deciding vote to make Joe Lieberman Vice President. Now there’s an alternate history scenario for you…
*It would not be unreasonable to describe me in those terms, these days. You could also easily describe me as a politcal a*shole, too. I think we’re all Bozos on this bus.
**Which is not the same as saying that both sides were right (turns out that Bush’s set of political a*sholes had the right of it), or that we weren’t all secretly relieved that a Republican was in office to handle 9/11 (we were, and you’ll notice that even today not many people try to argue that Gore would have done a better job, mostly because we all know that he wouldn’t have). I am however noting that if Bush v. Gore had gone the other way then the American people would have accepted the outcome just as readily as they did the actual one.