November 17, 2000,8:00 p.m.

 Another day, another see-saw of legal opinions. At least three court or state official decisions. Each side gets at least one decision in its favor a day, but it's the one who gets two out of three who is judged the winner for the day.

It's alternately fascinating and frustrating. It's flabbergasting that it's taken us this long...yet somewhat fascinating. It's rather interesting to watch the political maneuvering and the legal ramifications.

It's not a crisis. Yet it is fascinating. It's nothing dire. It's an election...in overtime. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I suppose I should apologize for being fascinated by those legal machinations, this overt political intrigue. Yet...why should I?

 Currently I've been reading a few of Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan novels. I just finished MIRROR DANCES, and I'm currently reading KOMARR. For a long time I've held off reading the Vorkosigan novels because of the horrid name for the protagonist. Call it a quirk, but bad names repulse me. I'm afraid sf heroes often have the worst names ever developed. For instance, Poul Anderson has Dominic Flandry, whose last name sounds flabby and a bit foppish to me.

Still, it's been my loss. Bujold has a gift for making involved far-future societies, with real political intrigue, both plausible and fascinating. It's one of her greatest strengths.

Frank Herbert of DUNE had a similar strength---taking a very complex society and making it real and understandable, even to the delicacies and nicities of political cutting of throats. In contrast, the Galactic Empire of Asimov's is a crude paper-mache imitation of the Roman Empire, and the Ekumen of Ursula K. Leguin is too altruistic to be believable.

 There are fantasies written on the same level. Most fantasies, even my beloved Tolkien, have political systems about as sophisticated as, say, Prince Charming's.

Yet Katherine Kurtz, who really knows her Middle Ages, makes a fascinating variation of medieval times by introducing a psychic race, with all the fear and suspicion that would engender, and makes a credible variation of medieval England in all its complexities and counter-balances. The Church is and its bishops are almost as powerful as the temporal rulers like kings and dukes and barons....and there are no simple answers.

Just. Like. Real. Life.

 Or take Shakespeare. Read the royal tragedies, and how the political intrigue just delightfully....simmers. Watch Richard the III magnificently manipulate all the people around him. True, the real Richard the III wasn't like that...but art at least brings to life an unforgettable schemer. Watch the old movie, the LION IN WINTER, and the sad but unforgettable tension/rivalry of Henry and his queen, and his three scheming sons.

It is the stuff of life. Politics is the game of power---ruthlessness guided by rules. Laws made to channel the lions among us.

Even in corporations, you see politics at play. You may decry it---I usually do---but some people calculate their way up the corporate ladder with all the ruthlessness of Shakespeare's Richard the III.

 So start to think of this as a drama. Think what Bush may be feeling, or Gore, at this moment, and which one is hungrier for this position...despite the fact that the winner may turn out to be a real loser in this case. That the most important political speech given all year---may be given by the loser, setting the tone for the next four years.

If he's bitter, or angry, it will leave a bad taste in people's mouths.

If he's praising and cooperative, he will be a great fellow and help usher in an era of cooperation between parties.

If he's merely congratulatory, but obviously reserving his full approval, he becomes a real power and rival---as McCain has become compared to Bush.

We live in a year of odd political intrigue. Enjoy it or abhor it, but don't underestimate it.

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Forum Question of the Day:

What comforts you?

Or you can answer...

Make a prediction about the far future.

Have you ever felt your vote was wasted?

What are YOU an ingrate about?

Place your bets: how long before we know who is REALLY going to be President?

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