U.S. newspapers across the political divide on Thursday applauded George W. Bush for his first address as president-elect and Al Gore for a gracious concession speech but said Bush faced an awesome job to unite the nation.
In its editorial, the pro-Gore New York Times said Bush’s address on Wednesday night had offered a “hopeful note of conciliation” missing in the last five weeks since Election Day and that Gore’s “statesmanlike attitude” left room for him to resume his public career on another day.
Even the conservative Washington Times praised Democrat Gore for setting aside partisan rancor and said he “rose to the occasion” in his speech when he pledged to support Bush.
A cartoon next to the editorial, however, made a dig at the vice president’s new status, showing him in an unemployment line where he was thanking people there for being part of his transition team.
The Wall Street Journal said Gore’s concession speech, in which he appealed for all sides to support his rival, repaired some of the damage his unprecedented legal challenge had wrought to get disputed votes recounted in Florida.
“But Mr. Gore’s ferocious post election campaign is another story which shouldn’t now vanish as if it were routine,” said the Journal, which had supported Bush throughout his campaign. The Washington Post said the tradition of reconciliation in America was welcome relief from the “scorched earth” tactics and rhetoric of the last five weeks and sent the right message to their followers.
Near Perfect ‘Stagecraft’
However, USA Today said in its editorial that despite Wednesday’s “stagecraft”, which it said was close to perfect, the partisan fever would linger and predicted the Bush administration would have a tough time.
“Much of the rhetoric of the last five weeks has left wounds deeper than even a perfect performance by Bush and Gore can heal,” USA Today said.
“In the next two years, little will come easily to the next administration — the natural result of a very close election, and more practically, a Congress that is as closely divided as it has been in the nation’s history.”
In Texas, Bush’s home state, the Houston Chronicle said a “sense of normalcy, if not unity, should be forthcoming” now that the election was finally over.
The Chronicle said the question of “who really won” should finally be laid to rest. “Bush can make a strong argument that he won by every measure,” the paper said.
In Vice President Gore’s home state of Tennessee, which he did not carry in the election, the Nashville newspaper he worked for when he was a reporter 25 years ago, said Bush deserved the support of all Americans.
“It is time for the nation to come together behind President-elect Bush. Of course, the wounds inflicted over the last month of indecision will not be easily healed,” said the editorial of the Tennessean, which had endorsed Gore.
Out west, the Seattle Times said Americans belatedly saw the best in the two candidates on Wednesday night, with Gore being generous and self deprecating. Bush, the paper said, focused on reconciliation and repairing the breach the election revealed in the country.
Under the headline “Patriotism Over Party”, the Los Angeles Times praised the fact that unlike in many other countries the United States had managed to resolve the serious political dispute in a peaceful way.
“It was, in all, a gracious coda to a campaign most Americans are relieved to finally see end.”
In the Midwest, the Chicago Tribune’s online edition outlined the challenge facing Bush. “Those who believe he’s not up to the job expect his presidency to be nasty, brutish and short,” the Tribune said.