On a day that could have been the defining moment in this election, the silence from the U.S. Supreme Court turned it into a day of unsatisfied anticipation. Signs of weariness were visible everywhere -- from the seclusion of the two presidential candidates, to the apparent weariness of the members of the media who cover them.
That was evident in the reports filed by Washington Post scribe Dana Milbank, who played the role of pool reporter for the members of the press staked out in Austin, Texas.
9:38 a.m. CST
Pool Report #1
Ladies and gentlemen of the press:
This pool report comes to you under extraordinary circumstances. It seems the Wall Street Journal, apparently deterred by the deep chill that has settled in Austin, has declined its pool duties today, leaving the next publication in line, alphabetically speaking, to assume this heavy obligation. Without a panicked, last-minute call to your correspondent from Dan Bartlett, the world might never know the following, crucial information: Governor Bush stayed home this morning.
To be more specific, he took his usual 30-minute national security briefing at the mansion (a full transcript of which will be provided in the second pool report), then decided to skip his morning work session at the capitol, much to the relief of the cameramen huddled outside. There was no reason given for this change in schedule; we can only assume that the governor, like the Wall Street Journal, was unable to face the inclement weather.
Our protagonist had phone calls with Baker and Evans this morning, and he met in person with Card at the mansion. He was also scheduled to have a mid-morning call with Cheney and Johnson to discuss what Bartlett euphemistically referred to as "personnel issues."
There is a slight chance the governor will visit his capitol office late in the morning; otherwise, we are advised to "expect the traditional mid-afternoon exercise" at the university. We have it from a reliable source that he will be using the treadmill. After that, he may go to his capitol office, or maybe not. 4:23 p.m. CST
Pool Report No. 2
It has come to the attention of your pool reporter that a minority of the court interpreted my earlier pool report as an attack on the hard-working men and women of the Wall Street Journal as feckless and unable to withstand the harsh climate of Austin. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the good and intrepid gentleman who was unable to fulfill his pool duty today will be on the job bright and early tomorrow, which promises to be as cold and nasty as today. Furthermore, your substitute pool reporter has been put through no hardship; his day has included a haircut, two trips to Starbucks, and extended viewing of CNN and MSNBC from the Stephen F. Austin hotel. All of which leads to the reason for this second pool report, which is to inform you that:
NOTHING IS HAPPENING.
Our charge has not left the executive mansion all day. There is reason to believe he is even more stir crazy than his press corps, because he lacks the freedom to go to Starbucks. Earlier indications from the Bush campaign were that the governor would be working out at the University of Texas, but your correspondent has learned that Bush has so far skipped his workout, which raises the possibility that he will Change the Tone from muscular to flabby. "We're going to go into rapid response," said spokesman Bartlett when asked about Bush's failure to exercise.
However, it can be told that Bush (hereafter referred to as PPOTUS, or Probable POTUS) has continued transition talks by phone with Cheney and Johnson. PPOTUS received a morning legal update, and moments ago spoke with Evans about his triumph in the Florida Supreme Court in the absentee ballot matter. Bartlett reports that it is his "understanding" that PPOTUS is "gratified" by the result.