Almost every losing candidate who ran for office last week has conceded, except for Mogulthorpe. I found him sitting alone in the "Mogulthorpe for Congress" headquarters.
"Mogulthorpe," I said, it's been a week since you los the election by 30 percentage points. Don't you think it's time to concede?"
"Where does it say in the Constitution that a person who loses an election has a concede?"
"There's nothing in the Constitution," I admitted, "but it's just fair play. If you don't concede, you opponent can't make a victory statement."
"Aha," said Mogulthorpe, "that's just the point. I've cheated Zinnser out of making a patronizing speech congratulating me on the great campaign I waged. Is Zinnser still at his headquarters waiting to go on television to accept his victory?"
"Yes, and he's getting pretty angry. He's been standing in front of the microphone surrounded by his family and loyal supporters, waiting for you to throw in the towel for a week now. Tempers are short over there."
"Good," said Mogulthorpe, "it will serve Zinnser right for calling me a carpetbagger."
"It isn't just Zinnser," I told him, "Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, David Brinkley, Frank Reynolds and Barbara Walters are all standing by for your concession speech. They can't officially close out their 1978 election coverage unless you admit Zinnser won."
"Big deal. They gave my election to Zinnser two minutes after they went on the air last Tuesday, before even one box of ballots had been counted. Why should I care if they're still stuck in their studios?"
"It wasn't Walter, John, David, Frank or Barbara," I said. "It was their computers. You were just a born loser, and the computers knew it before any of the votes were tallied."
"I'm not conceding until the absentee ballots are counted," Mogulthorpe said.
"They have been counted. Zinnser got 6,003 votes and you got only one fraom a sailor on a nuclear submarine in the Arctic Ocean."
"I knew I should have spent more time campaigning on nuclear submarines," Mogulthorpe said.
"It wouldn't have made any difference. You just weren't meant to be a congressman."
"My wife didn't help me by running off with my campaign manager two weeks before the election," he said.
"You can't blame other people for your loss," I warned him.
"But they took all my television commercials with them."
"Now you're being picky. The point is that Zinnser beat you fair and square and you owe it to him to concede defeat."
"I don't owe him anything. Why should I congratulate him for humiliating me in front of the entire country?"
"Because we have to close the chapter on the 1978 elections. None of us can start writing about 1980 unless you admit Zinnser beat you. Are you just going to sit here for the next two years?"
"The rent has been paid on this place until June of 1979."
"But Mogulthorpe," I said, "there is more at stake than your own vanity. The whole nation is watching what you do. If you don't concede the election, it could start a trend and politicians all over the country may decide to refuse to admit they were licked. It could make for very messy television coverage. You owe it to your country to go on national television and say that you wish Zinnser all the luck in the world."
"Why?" he asked.
"Because Barbara Walters wants to go to bed."