Democrats should pray that Gore losses
per Sunday Times (UK)
This is how we have been depicted in England. Some times it takes an outside observer to best see the ugliness of this larceny in process. This is an editorial from the Sunday Times of London-Nov. 26, 2000.
“IT IS clearer now than ever before that what we have been witnessing in America these past two weeks is something only a smidgen less than an attempted legal coup. I say “legal” coup because the law can sometimes be selectively used to circumvent the law. And I say “coup” because what has been going on is an attempt to snatch victory from the twice-declared winner in a manner that violates almost every principle of common sense, constitutional law and due process. Moreover, this was clearly a premeditated, conscious decision by Al Gore’s campaign. Gore didn’t blunder into this crisis. He planned for it, prepared for it and has been micro-managing every aspect of it from the beginning.
The first inklings came in the early hours of election night, November 8, when William Daley, the Gore campaign manager, declared to the throngs in Nashville that: “This campaign goes on!” Can you imagine a party leader in Britain, after a cliffhanger of a vote and a pending recount, saying that the “campaign” goes on? Campaigns are what happen before polling day. What happens afterwards is mere counting. And that counting should be done in as calm, as dispassionate and as sober an atmosphere as possible. When Daley injected that element of pure politics into the night, we should have known what was up. Even as he spoke, teams of Democratic lawyers, experts, thugs and spinners were being dispatched to Florida.
The war was on. As Daley was commandeering the troops, the Gore mouthpieces were already spinning on television. I was watching Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter with increasing disbelief at 4.30am. “I’m not talking about changing the rules or having the popular vote somehow supersede the electoral,” Alter presciently opined. “If you look at the history of close recounts in congressional races, they’re always disputed. You go precinct by precinct and then people say this recount wasn’t fair, we have to do it again. “And the result after weeks would be a lot of pressure to say instead of trying to sort out who really won Florida, let’s end this thing. You get a series of irregularities all over the state of Florida, pretty soon nobody can figure out who really won. What happens then?”
So the strategy was clear. The Gore team would throw every legal challenge they could at every recount they could find. They would routinely invoke the phrase “will of the people” at every convenient moment to keep reminding people that Gore had won the popular vote nationally. And they would simply assert something nobody properly knew – that if “the will of the people” were followed, Gore would be shown to have won Florida. The longer it went on, they surmised, the better chance they would have of saying, “This is such a mess, let’s just give the White House to the man with the most popular votes.” And they bet that the Republicans would be so blind-sided, they wouldn’t know what had hit them before it was too late.
There were obstacles to stealing an election, of course. The first problem for the Gore side was that Florida law mandated a certified result within a week of the election. If that happened, George W Bush would be declared the winner and Gore would look like a sore loser. So the Gore team went to the Florida Supreme Court demanding that it simply rescind Florida’s law. They knew the court would be on their side – it’s one of the most biased, liberal courts in the country. Only two months ago, the court simply struck down a ballot initiative legalizing lethal injection as a death penalty procedure, because the court thought it was “cruel and unusual punishment”. Forget the fact that voters had supported the measure by 73% to 27%.
Similarly, the court has barred 19 valid initiatives from even going before the voters in recent years – because the court, not the voters, regarded them as misleading. To get around this, Ward Connerly, the anti-affirmative action activist, proposed four different wordings for an initiative he tried to get before the voters. The Florida court simply struck all the wordings down as “confusing”. It is in favour of affirmative action and it believes its role is to stop voters from having a free vote on the matter. End of discussion. This is what judicial tyranny is. So the Goreites were not surprised when the court peremptorily stopped the legal certification of the result. The court cited confusing language in the law, which both says that Florida’s secretary of state must certify results a week after the election and also that she may make exceptions for late counties. Under the law, these questions are routinely settled by the secretary of state herself, who has “discretion” to resolve the matter. She can be overruled by the court only if her actions are “clearly erroneous”. Debatable they were – but “clearly erroneous”? Not a chance, as a lower court judge rightly ruled. Still, the Florida court was not one to let legal precedent guide its actions. It did the Gore team’s bidding, overruling the lower court, legalizing recounts with no firm rules for what constitutes a vote, and then setting an arbitrary date to complete them: today. Score one for the legal coup. So with this court behind them, Gore’s aides hired every hot-shot lawyer they could find and fought on. They first said that the Palm Beach “butterfly ballot” was illegal – and sowed confusion for several days. Haven’t heard of that blessed butterfly lately? It was ruled clearly legal by a judge last week, who barred any re-vote. Never mind. It was worth a try.
Then Gore tried the racial angle, declaring that black voters had been intimidated from voting by police, election workers and even dogs. Forget the fact that black turnout was at record levels and that, as yet, no such intimidation has been proved. It was enough to sow more confusion while Gore’s team tried to get hand recounts in four carefully selected counties where he had big victories.
In one of those counties, Broward, the Democratic-run canvassing board looked at the number of disputed ballots and concluded that a hand count was unnecessary. Lo and behold, a couple of days later, one of those Democrats was leaned on and unaccountably changed his mind. When it appeared in Palm Beach County that the hand-counts weren’t turning up enough votes for Gore, the Democratic-run canvassing board decided to change its rules on what constitutes a vote and allowed a mere indentation near a candidate’s name to be valid – the now famous “dimpled chad”. To defend the preposterous notion that such an indentation is a valid vote, the Gore lawyers cited a case in Illinois where such votes had been allowed in a recount.
Surprise, surprise, two days later the Chicago Tribune ran a story showing that that was simply untrue. Those dimpled ballots had never been ruled valid in such a case. The next day The Washington Post showed that such ballots had almost never been included as valid votes in any election in the country – with the exception of a case in Massachusetts, where the ballots had been spoilt by rain. Nevertheless, the Gore team fought on. In Dade County, when the deadline was approaching and Gore votes weren’t emerging quickly enough, the board decided to meet in a small room, exclude any Republican observers and the press, and count only those ballots that were disputed.
When this further change of the rules prompted a near-riot from vote-counters, the county decided to call off the entire recount. Undeterred, the Gore team sued the board to force a recount. That suit mercifully failed.
You could add to this litany of thuggishness the fanatical Gore effort to disqualify nearly 4,000 absentee ballots from military personnel for often piddling technical reasons. The assumption is that most of these votes are for Bush. In Democratic-run counties, therefore, about 70% of these ballots were thrown out as invalid.
Compare that with the 4% spoilt ballot rate in Palm Beach, and you can begin to see the ambition of the Democrats.
As I write, it’s still not clear whether Gore will be able to scrounge enough votes to eke out a victory over Bush today. But Gore has already said that if the final tally this evening doesn’t give him total victory, he will fight on and force further recounts. This is a man who will do anything to win: trash the constitution, get his lawyers to peddle falsehoods in court, change counting rules in mid-stream, gerry-rig recounts to favour him, intimidate anyone who stands in his way.
In a sign of how serious this has become, the Supreme Court has now decided to step in. It is almost unheard of for the United States Supreme Court to intervene in an electoral process that is rightly usually left to the state running the election. It is a sign, perhaps, that the justices in Washington have been able to see the travesty of justice and due process that the Gore team has been foisting on the election.
I will tell you one thing about this endgame. It is enough to make any fair-minded person realize that Gore is a danger to the country and to the constitution. He’s beginning to make Richard Nixon look magnanimous and Bill Clinton look honest. I once believed he was a good man, of serious purpose and honest intent. That belief is no longer tenable. He is a coldly ambitious man who is prepared to hold the country hostage to this trauma indefinitely and destroy his party’s slow march back to the centre of American politics in the process. We should all be praying that he doesn’t make it to the White House. But the people who should be praying hardest are the Democrats who still have faith in their party and reverence for their country.