Jewish World Review Dec. 29, 2004 / 18 Teves, 5765

Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann
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Conspiracies theorized, or conspiracies invoked?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | A theory advanced by John Harwood of The Wall Street Journal goes, more or less, that certain politicians are endeavoring to take advantage of the 20 percent of the population that the last Gallup Poll says is not fully convinced of the legitimacy of the last presidential election.


It seems fair to suggest that Sen. John Kerry just might be one of the politicians Harwood means.


Last Thursday night, his lead attorney on the ground in Ohio, Daniel J. Hoffheimer, issued a statement that constituted the third or fourth eyebrow-raiser from the Kerry camp in the post-election period.


In announcing that the Kerry-Edwards group would join the bid in Federal District Court in Ohio to preserve all "evidence" from the election and recount there, Mr. Hoffheimer said, on behalf of the senators, that such preservation was necessary because, "Only then can the integrity of the entire electoral process and the election of Bush-Cheney warrant the public trust."


After several Web columnists and bloggers joined me in questioning the bluntness of the phrase (one even wildly claiming this was a precursor to a Kerry "un-concession"), Hoffheimer changed his tone.


"I would caution the media not to read more into what the Kerry-Edwards campaign has said," Mr. Hoffheimer advised us by e-mail, "than what you hear in the plain meaning of our comments. There are many conspiracy theorists opining these days. There are many allegations of fraud. But this presidential election is over. The Bush-Cheney ticket has won. The Kerry-Edwards campaign has found no conspiracy and no fraud in Ohio, though there have been many irregularities that cry out to be fixed for future elections. Senator Kerry and we in Ohio intend to fix them. When all of the problems in Ohio are added together, however bad they are, they do not add up to a victory for Kerry-Edwards. Senator Kerry's fully-informed and extremely careful assessment the day after the election and before he conceded remains accurate today, notwithstanding all the details we have since learned."


The problem is, of course, that it was not some great, conspiracy-based, tin-foil-hat, piece of linguistic gymnastics, to infer from the conclusion to Mr. Hoffheimer's Thursday statement, that the Kerry-Edwards campaign did not believe that "the integrity of the entire electoral process and the election of Bush-Cheney" warranted the public trust. It is, in fact, to use Mr. Hoffheimer's phrase, "the plain meaning" of the first statement.


How do I know that? To borrow Chairman Sam Ervin's answer to that same question, as posed by John Ehrlichmann at the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973: "Because I can understand the English language. It's my mother's tongue."


The Kerry campaign spent much of 2004 being accused by its critics of trying to be all things to all people. It seems poised to continue to wear the bull's eye well into the New Year.

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The writer hosts MSNBC's “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” The news program, dedicated to all of the day’s top stories, telecasts weeknights, 8-9 p.m. ET. Comment by clicking here.



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