Stories by George F. Will

  • THE POPE AND THE SURGEON

    A concatenation of three events last week--two protracted deaths and one literary birth--was, as a stimulus to reflection, remarkable. Or, some will say, providential.In a utilitarian, if humane, place, a hospice in Florida, a woman tangled in some toils of modernity--medical technology, and the machinery of litigation and legislation--died because, after 15 years in a vegetative state, and supposedly out of respect for her autonomy, nutrition and hydration were withdrawn from her. In any other age--even a generation or two ago--she would not have become an appendage of devices that can sustain the body, or most of it, while a part of it, the brain, has stopped performing the functions essential to personhood, as normally understood.There was another death, in a place of purposeful splendor, the Vatican, which was built as a defiant assertion of confident authority in response to the tempest of the Reformation. The foremost contemporary steward of an ancient faith, Pope John Paul II...
  • BEIJING'S 43 BENTLEYS

    The story, perhaps apocryphal, is that the adjective "posh" began as a British acronym. For travelers by sea to India and the Orient, the preferred shipboard accommodations, because of the tropical sun, were portside out, starboard side home.Bentley automobiles, manufactured in Britain, are among the world's poshest luxury goods, with models ranging from U.S. prices of $165,000 to $280,000. Most of the 43 sold last year by Beijing Bentley were the pricier models.On Shanghai's waterfront, a building that is a monument to China's growing consumerism contains a large Armani store and a spa with indoor canals filled with Evian water. Armani expects to have as many as 30 stores on the mainland by 2008. China is now Louis Vuitton's fourth largest market. Prada, Zegna, Ferragamo, Dior and other luxury merchandisers are competing for the estimated 10 million to 13 million Chinese high-end customers. That is a small sliver of a nation of 1.3 billion, but it may be a large portent. U.S....
  • GIVE BALLOTS TO FELONS?

    Under the stopped-clock principle--even a stopped clock is right twice a day--let the record show that Sens. Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Democrats from California, New York and Ohio, respectively, have a tenuous hold on a piece of a point in their election-reform bill that is, however, generally dreadful and, in parts, patently unconstitutional.The Count Every Vote Act, which might better be called the What's a Little Fraud Among Friends? Act, reflects monomania--the idea that anything that increases the number of ballots cast is wonderful. So the act would make Election Day a federal holiday--and would require states to have Election Day registration, which is an invitation to fraud.The act would further erode federalism by stripping states of their traditional rights to regulate elections. States would be required to have no-excuse absentee voting and to conform to new federal standards regarding mandatory recounts, provisional ballots, poll...
  • THE DEFLATION OF POLITICS

    PRESIDENT, n. The leading figure in a small group of men of whom--and of whom only--it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.By the time most NEWSWEEK readers receive this issue, they and other voters will be choosing, or will have chosen, the man least not wanted, a.k.a. the winner. He will step confidently forward--and will, as it were, smack his forehead into some facts, which are, as John Adams said, stubborn things.Congress is a fact, and can be stubborn. In their quadrennial obsession with the presidency, Americans forget that Congress is the first branch of government. There is a reason the Constitution deals with the legislative branch in Article I: not much happens without its cooperation.If John Kerry is Mr. Least Not Wanted, he probably will confront a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The Senate might have a Republican or a Democratic majority, or it might be tied, with the vice president--Dick...
  • MODERN LIFE IN NFL NATION

    A fat lot Keats knew about autumn. "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"? Fiddlesticks. It is football season, the distilled essence of modern life.It is sex (pneumatic cheerleaders), violence (when the 1976 Super Bowl made the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders famous, a CBS producer said, "The audience deserves a little sex with its violence"), technology (quarterbacks electronically instructed by coaches wired to subordinate Merlins in the upper reaches of the stadium), committee meetings (huddles), division of labor (interior linemen specializing in third-and-short yardage situations), jargon (zone-flooding nickel packages and seam-splitting nose tackles, or something like that) and a hallmark of a commercial society--strategic parsimony about time.Welcome to the National Football League, a cultural artifact that causes thinkers to commit sociology. Michael MacCambridge plumbs these depths in his fine new book, "America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation."...
  • A LETHAL IDEA STILL LIVES

    This grotesque presidential campaign, which every day subtracts from the nation's understanding of its deepening dilemmas, cannot end soon enough, or well. Concerning the issue that eclipses all others--the wars in Iraq and against Islamic terrorists--reasonable people can be simultaneously to the right of President Bush and to the left of John Kerry.To the right of Bush: More forces may be needed--and more forceful employment of them. In the truncated conquest of Fallujah, U.S. commanders ignored Napoleon's axiom: "If you start to take Vienna--take Vienna." Flinching may have been prudent, although finishing the conquest might not have added much to the odium surrounding the U.S. presence in Iraq. And not crushing the insurgency in Fallujah may have accelerated, even formalized, the disintegration of Iraq. How do the administration's nation-builders think elections are going to be held in this maelstrom?To the left of Kerry: Recently he said that even if he had known then what we...
  • IN THE THREE PENNSYLVANIAS

    Pittsburgh--re-ordained in Manhattan, George W. Bush headed for his 34th presidential visit to Pennsylvania. Tony Podesta dourly says Bush cabinet members are so thick on the Pennsylvania ground, "He could have a quorum for a cabinet meeting here." Podesta's job is to see that Bush's courtship of this state becomes, like Quasimodo's ardor for Esmeralda, a famous episode of unrequited love.Podesta, a political lifer, lives in Washington--his younger brother John was a White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton--but grew up in the Chicago of the Richard J. Daley machine, acquiring there a mechanic's mastery of political nuts and bolts that he put to use running Clinton's successful 1996 campaign in Pennsylvania. Now he is massaging Pennsylvania for John Kerry.Like an old-school Chicagoan, when asked which part of that city he lived in, Podesta mentions not the name of a neighborhood but of his Roman Catholic parish. A feel for ethnic facts is indispensable here in the state's...
  • COLORADO'S CRUCIAL VOTE

    November's most portentous vote is not for president. It is Colorado's vote on abandoning, beginning this year, the winner-take-all allocation of the state's electoral votes. Instead, they would be divided according to each candidate's percentage of the popular vote.This is a pernicious proposal, and not merely because one of its aims is partisan: if Colorado had had this system in 2000, its eight (now nine) electoral votes would have gone to Bush 5-3 instead of 8-0 and the six-vote swing would have elected Gore. The Colorado proposal, which may be a precursor of a nationwide drive to scrap the electoral-vote system, ignores how that system nurtures crucial political virtues.Winner-take-all allocation is a state choice, not a constitutional mandate, but 48 states have made it. Maine and Nebraska allocate one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district and award the two votes for the state's senators to the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote.America's...
  • EVENTS SPRINT PAST POLITICS

    The story is probably apocryphal but also plausible. It is that John C. Calhoun, the austere 19th-century South Carolinian who was a congressman, vice president and senator but never was Mr. Congeniality, once attempted to write a poem, which he began, "Whereas..." John Kerry also invites satire about his demeanor, which is New England reserve leavened by senatorial ponderousness. The Democratic convention was planned as a packaging exercise to increase Kerry's cuddliness quotient. Most of the first 15 presidents--and some after the 16th, Lincoln--could have walked down most American streets virtually unrecognized. But television imposes intimacy with presidents. They are in most living rooms most days, so candidates must pass a threshold test of likability.Democrats can relax. In presidential elections the importance of a pleasing personality is inversely proportional to the seriousness of the nation's challenges, underscored last week by the 9/11 Commission's report. Furthermore,...
  • WAGING WAR ON WAL-MART

    Some progressives, as liberals now prefer to be known, would rather rid the world of Wal-Mart than of Baathists. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is not preserving its reputation for seriousness, has listed Vermont--all of it--among America's most endangered historic places. Why? Because of a threatened "onslaught" of seven more--Vermont has four--Wal-Marts. The other 49 states have 3,044. Texas has the greatest number (317), Hawaii the fewest (six) aside from Vermont.John Kerry is rarely among the 100 million people who shop at Wal-Mart in a given week; the Heinz-Kerry household is probably not among the 80 percent of American households that shop there at least once a year. But he is among the liberals denouncing Wal-Mart's "disgraceful" and "unconscionable" practices, which according to a huge class-action lawsuit--liberalism rampant--includes sex discrimination.The National Trust fears for Vermont's "sense of community," which evidently is threatened by... the...
  • REAGAN'S ECHO IN HISTORY

    Ronald Reagan, unlike all but 10 or so Presidents, was a world figure whose career will interest historians for centuries, and centuries hence his greatness will be, and should be, measured primarily by what happened in Europe, as a glorious echo of his presidency, in the three years after he left the White House. What happened was the largest peaceful revolution in history, resulting in history's largest emancipation of people from tyranny--a tyranny that had deadened life for hundreds of millions of people from the middle of Germany to the easternmost of Russia's 11 time zones.However, Reagan will also be remembered for his restoration of American confidence that resulted in a quickening tempo of domestic life. During his first term, the most remarkable run of wealth creation in the history of this or any other nation began. Arguably, it began with a seemingly unrelated event in the first year of his first term.In 1981, when the nation's air-traffic controllers threatened to do...
  • KERRY DROPS A GOOD IDEA

    Briefly last week, political hygienists, who strive to perfume the world with campaign-finance reforms, suffered the vapors. Like Victorian maidens scandalized by a glimpse of a loose woman's ankle, they sprawled prostrate on a divan, crinolines askew, faces chalky from shock. Why? Because John Kerry had a sensible idea, briefly.He considered not accepting--formally, in so many words--his party's nomination at its Boston convention. Here is why he considered doing that, and why it is too bad he flinched.From the moment each candidate accepts his nomination, until Election Day, he can spend only the $75 million in public funds he is allotted. But the Democrats' convention is five weeks earlier than the Republicans', so Bush has five extra weeks to hoard his $75 million and spend his privately raised contributions. Hence Kerry's idea: officially accept the nomination later--perhaps five weeks later.Instead, he will do the conventional thing, thereby sacrificing healthy politics on the...
  • The Politics Of Trash Talk

    Although David Hume was a skeptic regarding religion, he frequently attended church services conducted by a severely orthodox clergyman. Hume said, "I don't believe all he says, but he does, and once a week I like to hear a man who believes what he says." Which is why this presidential campaign may drive even atheists into pews.The candidates' rhetoric sounds excruciatingly inapposite at a moment when Internet video of the beheading of an American causes no attention to be paid to reports of Palestinians playing soccer with the head of an Israeli soldier. Was it the same head displayed on a Palestinian desk, as seen on Arab and Israeli television? No one can know the effect on Americans--desensitization? radicalization? --of protracted bombardment by such news.Both candidates skitter around, speaking with studied irrelevance. The economy is humming but John Kerry denies it. George W. Bush has nothing interesting to say about how expectations about Iraq should be amended, or about...
  • Comanche Spring, 2004

    In "Lone Star Nation," his new history of the battle for Texas independence, H. W. Brands of Texas A&M writes that one particularly fierce Indian tribe called itself, as many tribes did, simply "the People," but the tribe's neighbors, the Utes, referred to it with a word meaning "anyone who wants to fight me all the time." Rendered in Spanish, that Ute word became "Comanche."For the Texan who is president, and is under enfilading fire on all sides, from adversaries and events, this may seem like Comanche Spring. But polls that take the temperature of the presidential race indicate that his political condition is not as parlous as might be expected.His only great day recently was when the number of jobs created in March was announced as 308,000, and the numbers for January and February were revised upward, making the first-quarter total 513,000. But then the bombardment of Bush by books began. Yet this, too, may have helped him.The 9/11 commission, with a large assist from...
  • SHOCK AND AWE IN IRAQ

    Aleksandr Kerensky died in New York in 1970. He had lived there since the 1940s, also spending time at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. From May 1918 to 1940 he lived in Western Europe, editing newspapers and journals for other Russian emigres. In July 1917, at the age of 36, he had become head of Russia's government. In October he was ousted by a 47-year-old, Vladimir Lenin.It is worth taking this walk down memory lane as the United States struggles with the task of midwiving the birth of a new regime in Iraq. The U.S. challenge is not just to produce an Iraqi head of government. It is to make sure that that person is not a Kerensky--an historical blip followed by a protracted horror.The midwiving is becoming curiouser and curiouser. Diplomats from Iran, which is one third of the Axis of Evil, are in Iraq to facilitate the construction of a new regime. And an envoy from the United Nations is there to suggest what price the United States might have to pay in diminished...
  • FROM KOSOVO TO FALLUJAH

    Last week's stomach-turning images from Fallujah--ecstatic children learning from adults the delights of creating and then mutilating corpses--were redundant reminders, but evidently necessary reminders, of how difficult it is going to be to build a democratic, multiethnic Iraq. The images arrived on the fifth anniversary of another ambitious undertaking.Five years ago the United States was freshly embarked on a war, of sorts. It was a war made possible by modern technology and made attractive to modern sensibilities. It was a war waged by people who thought their aim was worth killing for but not dying for. The aim, President Clinton said, was to build a "democratic, multiethnic Balkans region."The disintegration of Yugoslavia, which began when the Cold War ended, had demonstrated that "Europe" is still just a geographic expression, not a noun denoting a competent political entity. Europeans had failed to cope with the Continent's worst violence since 1945, including the 1995...
  • THE LAST WORD: PARADOXES OF PUBLIC PIETY

    America, the most modern nation, seems increasingly permeated by something that modernity--the demystification of the world by reason--was expected to make decreasingly salient: religion. But in The Public Interest, two academics cast a cool eye on current manifestations of public religiosity and come to striking conclusions about several meanings of today's public piety.In "The Soul of a Nation," Wilfred M. McClay of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga notes that September 11 caused some persons to conclude that religion, and especially monotheism, is a dangerous residue of mankind's infancy. If people worshiped, as some once did, collections of gods that varied over time, would they crash planes into buildings for religious reasons? Religion, say those who recoiled from it after September 11, celebrates irrationality and demonizes others in implacable conflicts over unsplittable differences.A more widespread reaction to terrorism was a religious reflex--a revitalization of...
  • STRIVING FOR MOTEL YEARS

    Kissimmee, Fla.--It is past 10 p.m., dark, cold and damp. Traffic hisses on the highway in front of the nondescript motel that for five weeks is home to about 155 young adults. In back, in the gloom beneath the parking lot's dim lights, a dozen of them seem to have lost their minds. Actually, they are finding their dream.And doing their homework, far from home. Their choreography on the asphalt is simulating situations in baseball games--runners on first and second, single to left; runner on second, ground ball to the pitcher. And on and on. The participants are pretending to be infielders, outfielders, a batter, base runners and--this is the point of it all--two umpires.They have come to Jim Evans's Academy of Professional Umpiring. For six long days a week--on the manicured infields of the Houston Astros' Spring-Training complex, and on the asphalt--they are learning the craft of baseball's judicial branch.For the few who will land jobs in the low rung of baseball's ladder--say,...
  • DUKAKIS PLUS 4.4 PERCENT?

    Each morning, as republicans--bright- eyed after sleep made especially refreshing by dreams of defeating Howard Dean--shave or apply makeup, they should look into their mirrors and say to the images of complacency there: "Read my lips--Michael Dukakis got 45.6 percent of the vote."The landslides that buried George McGovern in 1972 and Walter Mondale in 1984 are incessantly invoked as the Great Warnings to Democrats determined to go on an ideological toot with Dean. But contemplation of another Democratic disaster, the 1988 Dukakis campaign, actually should temper Republicans' Dean-induced triumphalism.Dukakis's campaign lurched from his advice to Iowa farmers (grow endive) to his stance toward the Pledge of Allegiance (he opposed mandating that Massachusetts's school days begin with it) to his weekend-release program for convicts (it enabled a murderer to commit a rape) to his affectless answers to questions about whether he would favor capital punishment for a person who raped and...
  • 2003: Not In Our Interests

    Whatever happens," said Lord Salibury (1830-1903), a conservative in thought, word and deed, "will be for the worse, and therefore it is in our interests that as little should happen as possible." By that sensible standard, eventful 2003 was not in our interests.Make love and war, or else the terrorists will have won:During Valentine's week in February, with war impending and the government elevating the terrorism alert, two of Wal-Mart's hot-selling items were lingerie and duct tape. Talk about ingratitude: terrorists struck in Saudi Arabia. The war with Iraq went well, aside from the detail that the reason for it--weapons of mass destruction--has been elusive. The following is a complete list of all those fired because of the intelligence failure: _______.While America was trying to acquaint 25 million Iraqis with democracy, 144.5 million Russians fell under President Vladimir Putin's "managed democracy"--tsarism leavened by state-manipulated plebiscites. If only the world were...
  • Conservatism, Um, Evolving

    By the time the conservatives running Congress and this conservative president are done doing what they think will win the next election, tweezers may be needed to pick up the remnants of conservatism as traditionally understood. Time was, Republicans disdained the political formula supposedly voiced by FDR's aide Harry Hopkins: "Tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect." Now Republicans have amended the formula with an audacity that would make the most ardent New Dealer blush. The Republican recipe for "elect and elect" is: Tax cuts. Fine. They have carried the economy through a difficult patch. But there is also unbridled spending. (Federal discretionary spending is up a dizzying 26 percent in two years.) Plus tariffs. Which are taxes on American consumers. The most recent, ostensibly intended to save American jobs, protects Americans from, among other dangers, an inundation of inexpensive Chinese bras.Plus what liberals call "industrial policy" and conservatives used to call...
  • The Dueling Nightmares

    Everyone who embarks on the pursuit of a party's presidential nomination must, as in John Milton's gloomy words, "scorn delights, and live laborious days." By last week, all the Democratic candidates except Howard Dean must have wondered why they were doing this.Well, perhaps not the three antic candidates. Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton are having the kind of fun that comes to those who, never having expected to win, have nothing to lose and perhaps lecture fees to gain.And perhaps Wesley Clark, the incredibly shrinking candidate, is happy, even though in just seven weeks he has gone from being on the cover of NEWSWEEK to dropping out of Iowa and perhaps New Hampshire as well, where he has fallen to 4 percent. Still, he seems happy there in the durable bubble that seems to insulate him from reality. Having taken a crash course in the Democratic catechism, he has been denouncing what he says is the Bush administration's attempt to suppress dissent. ("No...
  • Handicapped On The Hill

    Washington, with the highest concentration of television cameras per acre in this galaxy, and with more journalists per capita than is wholesome, makes national names out of legislative luminaries such as Gary Hart, Birch Bayh, Howard Baker, Richard Lugar, John Glenn, Joseph Biden and other failed seekers of presidential nominations. Yet it is well known that only three serving members of the national legislature have been elected president--James Garfield, Warren Harding and John Kennedy.This year it is notable that the four serious Democratic presidential candidates from Congress--Sens. John Edwards, John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman and Rep. Dick Gephardt--are making smaller waves so far than a governor of a small state (Howard Dean of Vermont) and a general from a small war (Wesley Clark, conqueror, from the air, of Serbia).Who can explain all this? Christopher DeMuth, that's who. He is head of the American Enterprise Institute, and author of a soon to be published (in the January...
  • Paris Versus Philadelphia

    America's thinking about its engagement with the world is being bedeviled by the insistent asking of the wrong question, which is: how can we close the rift with Europe caused by the Bush administration's "unilateralism," which betokens wariness about international institutions and international law? The right question is: do we really want to close this rift?It reflects fundamental differences between American and European understandings of constitutional democracy. So argues Jed Rubenfeld in a mind-opening essay forthcoming in the Wilson Quarterly.Rubenfeld, a Yale Law School professor, wonders why America--which after 1945 was the principal progenitor of today's system of international organizations and law, including the United Nations--has come to be regarded as hostile to that project. His answer is that Cold-War unity between America and Europe disguised what is now patent: diametrically opposed American and European views of the objectives of international law and...
  • The European Project Sags

    From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, Europe is seething with resentment about one nation's hubris. The Continent reverberates with angry denunciations of that renegade nation's lawless unilateralism. No, the nation is not the usual suspect, the United States. It is France.This may be remembered as the month when the European project--the long, sometimes stealthy attempt to make the noun "Europe" denote a centralized political entity as well as a geographical region--began to collapse under the weight of its unrealism and undemocratic nature. Certainly the project has lost momentum, for two reasons. One is the behavior of the nation, France, that most ardently wants Europe to become a unified counter to American power. The other is the insurrection against their government by one of Europe's most deferential and state-broken people--the rarely turbulent Swedes.Proponents of an increasingly close union of decreasingly sovereign European nations--nations that "pool"...
  • Dean And Big Differences

    If it was not already as plain as a pikestaff, last week's events made it so: In 2004 there will be no talk, as there was in 2000, of the presidential election's being about "the narcissism of small differences." The differences between the parties are now sufficiently stark that even Wesley Clark, the retired Army general who fancies himself a president, has suddenly discovered, in his 59th year, that he is a Democrat.The next election will turn on big differences about two questions. What should be America's role in the world? And how should the Constitution be construed?Last week another of the Senate Democrats' filibusters against the most important of President Bush's appellate-court nominees succeeded when Miguel Estrada withdrew from consideration. Republicans will be eager to trumpet the Democrats' seven successes in blocking, as they probably will have done by next November, confirmation of: a Roman Catholic and Hispanic immigrant (Estrada), an African-American woman ...
  • Restoration At 346 Madison

    --MARY McCARTHY, "The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt" (1941)Some business stories are social parables. One such is the long, stately rise, then the swift, undignified descent, and now the resurrection of Brooks Brothers, the men's clothier that long ago became one of America's iconic brands.It was founded in 1818 near the southern tip of a mostly rural Manhattan. The day the store opened--the store that was to define American male gentility--the city council was fretting about swine in the streets.As Manhattanites moved north, so did the store, several times. By 1915 it had moved to 346 Madison, at the corner of 44th, a store with dark wood and soft lighting from Tiffany chandeliers. Not until 1928 did Brooks Brothers open a second store, on Newbury Street in Boston. But long before that, 346 Madison had become for many men the quiet definer of sartorial good taste.Generals Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Hooker bought Civil War uniforms from Brooks Brothers. Lincoln wore a Brooks...
  • THE PUBLIC? LET'S RECALL IT.

    What is to be done with the American people? They are so disappointing. Perhaps they should be recalled, and a new public elected. Given a chance by their moral tutors to behave virtuously, and tirelessly exhorted by those tutors to do so, they still don't.In 1974, as part of the political class's post-Watergate vow to sin no more, it adopted a less-than-painful penance. That class created for itself an entitlement. Egged on by political hygienists, a.k.a. campaign-finance reformers, Congress passed--and President Gerald Ford, then just two months in office and soon to be seeking election, signed--a law creating government funding of presidential campaigns. Because this has freed up, over the years, hundreds of millions of dollars of private political money for nonpresidential candidates, the entitlement was a benefit not only for presidential candidates, but for all the rest of the political class, too.The government would match the private contributions candidates receive of $250...
  • The Greening Of Chicago

    Chicago-- Thirty-five summers ago, in the angriest year of a boiling era, the forces of peace, love and understanding--they fancied themselves "flower power"--clashed violently at the Democratic Convention with the police of Mayor Richard Daley. Today the mayor of this famously muscular city-- big-shouldered hog butcher and stacker of wheat-practices flower power. His name is Richard Daley.The son is in his fourth four-year term. Chicago has been governed by him or his father for 35 of the 48 years since 1955. Chicago's name derives from an American Indian word meaning wild onion, and the city's motto "Urbs in Horto" means "city in a garden." Daley's green thumb has produced a city chock full of gardens.Including one on the roof of city hall. It has 20,000 plants of more than 150 species. And three beehives, which produce 60 pounds of honey a year. The hives are emblematic of the intensely practical nature of Daley's passion to prove that "nature can exist in an urban environment."A...
  • Dawnism In California

    Armies on the march are no match for a terrible idea whose time has come, and in California the terrible idea is an army on the march--an army of disgruntled voters exercising their ridiculous right to utter a collective "Oops!"California's constitution is riddled with early-20th-century Progressivism, the persuasion of the sort of people an English wit once called Dawnists--people who believe that there will be a dawn of perpetual happiness if the people are just allowed to work their will. California's constitution institutionalizes fickleness, giving the people the power to change their minds about elections by initiating recall votes.Eight months ago they re-elected Gov. Gray Davis, a chilly political careerist who seems even less competent than he is charming. But the vote was a robust expression of unenthusiasm. Beating a badly outspent and mistake-prone political rookie, Davis won just 47 percent of the vote, receiving 1.3 million fewer votes than in 1998.Soon after the...