Published November 23. 2012 4:00AM
We supposedly are a nation of gracious losers.
After every hard-fought contest - even pro hockey games in which hulking skaters have spent the previous couple of hours slamming opponents into the boards and trying to knock their teeth out - second-place finishers typically shake hands and congratulate the victors.
Evidently, though, Mitt Romney and his vanquished GOP minions - Fox News commentators, talk-radio troglodytes and other disenfranchised banner-wavers for the far right - subscribe to the sour grapes school of politics. They continue to talk trash about President Obama as if the election were tomorrow instead of more than two weeks ago, and just can't choke down the fact that the majority of voters don't agree with them.
It's like the scene in the 1941 classic "Citizen Kane," when fictional gubernatorial candidate Charles Foster Kane, as played by Orson Welles, holds up a prematurely printed newspaper with the headline he hoped would run, "Kane Elected," and then selects the alternative version, "Fraud at Polls."
A photograph supposedly snapped of Mr. Romney the other day pumping gas for his SUV at a Shell station in La Jolla, Calif., shows him in uncharacteristically rumpled attire and with an expression suggesting he has been infected by an acute case of post-election stress disorder.
The authenticity of the picture, now circulating widely on the Internet, hasn't been verified. In fact, aside from a brief concession speech in the early morning hours of Nov. 7 we've seen or heard little from the former Massachusetts governor.
Mr. Romney's only other comments after the election, made via a telephone conference call to wealthy campaign donors that was later leaked to the media, blamed his loss on "gifts" President Obama gave to African-Americans, Hispanics, women and young voters.
He was quoted as saying, "With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift. Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."
Meanwhile, distraught voters in a number of red states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, are circulating petitions calling for secession from the union.
Even though the United States just re-elected its first African-American president, it's as if we're getting ready to fight the Civil War again.
This nation already faces far too many immediate challenges - solving the debt crisis to avoid plunging off the fiscal cliff; trying to broker a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians; the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - to remain so sharply divided.
It's time for Mr. Romney and his followers to show some leadership and some class.
Extend a hand, if not in friendship, at least in acknowledgement that we are all Americans, and we can either stand as one or all fall together.