SEND IN THE CLOWNS!
The nascent Bush Administration is about to taint itself
Saturday, November 11, 2000
by RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON
OK... now all of this is getting positively ridiculous!: the Bush people are bringing a lawsuit in Federal court attempting to stop all the recounts in the State of Florida (that is, they are asking a FEDERAL judge to interfere with STATE election law) which has about as much chance of success as the Gore people's attempt to get the 19,200 invalidated ballots in Palm Beach County re-counted or re-voted. What's at stake here is no longer who wins a Presidential Election: a whole four-year Administration's ability to lead the Nation is now being threatened- but not by their opponents: no, it is the people who are working to secure the victory for that nascent Administration who are apparently so stupid they are about to shoot themselves in the foot!
Governor Bush of Texas, as it is, is going to have one hell of a time being the "unifier, not a divider" he consistently claimed he could be if he were elected President: I have already outlined my sentiments along these lines in my previous Commentary (along with the reasons why "The Green Papers" called FLORIDA for the Texas Republican and is, despite a few angry e-mails re: why we did so, sticking to it for the time being). But do his minions have to now go about interfering with an orderly determination of the outcome and, therefore, complicate matters for George W. Bush even further? Just what ARE these people thinking? Or, perhaps, it is all precisely because the heat of this battle has not allowed them to think very clearly: nothing else- outside of abject foolishness (or arrogance, which is just foolishness in a different form) explains their actions.
Why is the Bush campaign acting as if the Presidential Election has to be decided once and for all a minute from now? There is still plenty of time to resolve this: the recounts have until 14 November to be completed; the overseas absentee ballots can still be counted if they come in by 17 November; under Federal law, a State does not have to make an uncontestable determination as to who gets its Electoral Vote until 12 December; the Electors don't even meet until 18 December. Why the rush to judgment all of a sudden?
The Bush people claim they want the final determination in Florida to be fair (though, as I've already argued in that previous Commentary, this election can no longer be fair anyway)- but read carefully some of the rather bizarre statements former Secretary of State James Baker has made on behalf of Governor Bush's being declared elected of late: about how the Gore people want to keep recounting until they get a result they like (think about that for a moment, now- use your brains and parse Baker's comment carefully: for if a recount becomes one that the Gore people would like, it means the original count- giving Bush Florida's 25 electoral votes and, with it, the Presidency- would be wrong, wouldn't it? and, if the call of Florida as Bush's is wrong, how could George W. Bush then legitimately claim the Presidency?! I surely hope that Mr. Baker is not here condoning the stealing of an election- but then, if this is not his intent [and I am certainly not claiming in any way that it is], why are the recounts [keep in mind I am not speaking here about the LEGAL recourses the Gore campaign is taking- I am only talking about making sure the votes- AS CAST- in Florida are correctly tabulated!] such an issue for Mr. Baker and the Bush campaign??!! It makes no sense!!)
Further disturbing (and, indeed, much more so) is all this talk by Baker that "we all know" the overseas ballots are going to eventually give the State of Florida to Governor Bush: well, contrary to what Mr. Baker claims, we DON'T know! We can certainly surmise (and "The Green Papers" has done just that by calling Florida for the Texas Governor)- but we won't KNOW until the last vote is counted officially, will we? Most people thought the St. Louis Rams were going to whup the Tennessee Titans in the last Super Bowl: the Rams did, in fact, win- but not by the margin a lot of people expected. We didn't cancel the Super Bowl because a large majority of football fans thought the Rams were going to win; the game was played anyway- and the Titans, 1 yard away, could very well have beaten the Rams last January. Likewise, let's find out what the final score is in Florida before putting pressure on Vice President Gore to concede this election- eh, guys? Things are bad enough as it is!
My educated guess is that the Bush people- despite all outward appearances and actions- are now not anywhere near as confident that Florida will be decided in their favor as they were Wednesday (8 November) forenoon. I don't think they were mentally prepared for a +1748 to +327 drop in their margin as a result of the preliminary recount (they probably expected the recount margin to drop- as I myself did- to about 1000 or 1100, give or take: maybe 900 at worst and then let those overseas ballots push Bush's margin back up to a more comfortable level). Now those overseas ballots become even more important to their cause, for a manual count in Palm Beach and other Democratic stronghold counties (such as Broward and Dade) risks dropping this margin even further (or so they must be thinking: nothing else could explain their Federal lawsuit). The Bush people are now sweating bullets- perhaps even running scared- but I just don't see how they can legally block county election officials from authorizing a manual recount upon the request of a candidate: Florida Statutes 102.266(4) gives a candidate a right to request a manual recount in a County and gives the COUNTY election officials the sole authority to approve one.
My concern now is that the motivations of the Bush people in Florida may not, after all, be totally on the "up and up". Why talk about having Al Gore concede defeat on the basis of what we THINK the vote out of Florida might be? Why otherwise call for a concession by the Democrats before the recounts are all completed and all the overseas ballots are in?? Why attempt to have a Federal court block those very recounts (which, after all, are authorized under Florida state election law)???
The Bush people are now doing a very good job of pouring
gasoline over the fire. The nascent Bush Administration was formerly in grave
danger of achieving a Pyrrhic victory at best; now any such victory may
turn out to be positively pyrotechnic!