Jewish World Review Nov. 13, 2000/ 15 Mar-Cheshvan 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- I DON'T AGREE with much of what Jonathan Schell, The Nation's "Peace and Disarmament Correspondent," writes, but in that weekly's Nov. 27 issue, which went to press the day after the election, one sentence of his was entirely sensible. Schell said, in the context of interpreting the events of last Tuesday, "It is better to reflect for a moment on our political confusion."
The intolerable situation in Florida-with both the Democrats and Republicans race-baiting and finger-pointing, everybody's judgment clouded by paranoia and sleep deprivation-is so volatile that I fear any lengthy column of mine could be rendered moot in less than 24 hours.
That said, I do have a few points to share with readers.
1. Bring on the castor oil, for MUGGER sure blew it by predicting a massive, Reagan-like victory for George W. Bush. I didn't arrive at that errant conclusion by mere partisanship or my profound disgust with the elite Beltway reporters and pundits who wore "Gore 2000" t-shirts throughout this campaign.
Rather, by sifting through internal data obtained from both the Bush and Gore camps, as well as the extravagant number of polls, and by watching both candidates campaign in the final week, I presented an honest opinion about what the outcome would be. I take no comfort in the fact that almost every other journalist who hazarded a guess on the election was wrong as well, particularly since my own was so far out of kilter in favor of Bush's popular and electoral vote totals.
2. Like most journalists, I was glued to the tube on Tuesday and Wednesday for almost 15 hours, finally going to sleep at 8:30 a.m. One thing is clear: the network and cable television stations have done the nation a monstrous disservice by treating the election as if it were the Super Bowl. Voter News Service (VNS) provided exit poll and vote-count information to major news outlets that led to faulty conclusions that in turn resulted in skewing the electoral process. When Florida was prematurely "projected" for Al Gore, thus giving the likes of Tom Brokaw, Judy Woodruff, Dan Rather, Brit Hume, etc., the license to claim that a Bush victory was unlikely, it no doubt discouraged GOP voters in different time zones, where the polls were still open, from casting ballots.
The same thing happened in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was declared the winner before 9 p.m.-Jimmy Carter's early concession didn't help, either-which undoubtedly caused Democrats to stay home, causing lost votes for congressional candidates in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific time zones.
The print media, because of the time lag, can't be blamed for this fiasco. But I'm certain that the tv networks, in the quest for ratings-as evidenced by their heinous nonstop coverage of stories like Princess Di's death, the O.J. Simpson saga, John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane crash and the Columbine massacre-have now eclipsed even trial lawyers like Alan Dershowitz as objects of contempt among the nation's citizens.
3. MSNBC's Paul Begala, who worked with the Gore campaign, was particularly obnoxious early Wednesday morning when it was announced that Bush had carried Florida and therefore won the presidency. He immediately blamed Ralph Nader-obviously, he wasn't alone in making this despicable charge-for ruining his candidate's chance for victory. Funny, when Ross Perot won 19 percent of the vote in 1992, probably causing the defeat of President Bush, I don't remember similar whining from the Republican side.
The gall of men and women like Begala, casting Nader as a villain because he chose to run for president, an opportunity most Americans over the age of 35 have the constitutional right to exercise, boggles the mind.
4. The Nation, in its current editorial, makes some rash comments that are beyond the pale even for that crackpot magazine. Two remarks stand out. "Another inescapable message of Election 2000-one of Nader's main themes but also the banner held aloft by Republican maverick John McCain [I wonder if The Nation's editors feel that McCain's pro-life stance is one of a "maverick"]-is the public's utter disgust with the money-drenched political system."
Says who? Was that question on the ballot last Tuesday? The Nation may have "utter disgust" with the current campaign finance laws, but it's by no means certain the American citizenry does.
I find ironic the wrath directed at Sen. Joseph Lieberman. The editorialist writes: "[I]f Gore should win, the Democrats would lose a Senate seat because Joe Lieberman got greedy and insisted on running for two offices at once." "Greedy," eh? Some might call that potshot anti-Semitic.
Also in The Nation, "The Beat" columnist John Nichols was despondent that the Democrats didn't retake Congress. In an incredibly contradictory sentence-for this magazine-Nichols writes: "There was even more disappointment in the results of the House, where an expensive two-year Democratic drive to win the seven Republican seats needed to take back the House failed." I guess when Patrick Kennedy, the Democrats' chief fundraiser for House elections, entertains donors at his family's compound, raking in soft money by the trunkload, that's okay, since the wealthy young Rhode Islander is a man of the people. When Tom DeLay, however, raises money for his Republican colleagues, writers like Nichols want to haul him into court.
5. Finally, Gore's campaign chairman William Daley is a prime example of a politician the left-wing should despise, but doesn't, because he's a Democrat. At a press conference on Nov. 9, Daley, in laying plans to hijack the election from Bush should the Florida recount hold up in the Governor's favor, spoke just like his late father, the legendary political crook Richard Daley, of Cook County fame. Daley said, in complaining about balloting in Florida: "If the will of the people is to prevail, Al Gore should be awarded a victory in Florida, and be our next president."
Daley's Republican counterpart, Don Evans, testily shot back a few hours later: "The Democrats, who are politicizing and distorting these events, risk doing so at the expense of our democracy. Our democratic process calls for a vote on Election Day; it does not call for us to continue voting until someone likes the outcome."
Meanwhile, the stock markets are tanking and the rest of the world is wondering
just what kind of democracy the United States actually has in place. One thing
seems certain: if the Florida recount, when all the absentee ballots still
outstanding are tallied, isn't to Gore's satisfaction, he'll try to overturn the
results through litigation. That, in turn, will trigger hundreds of recounts and
similar lawsuits across the country, not just in the presidential election, but
in any contest that was very close. Irregularities, fraud and theft-by both
parties-are an unfortunate reality in all U.S. elections. Not just in precincts,
towns, cities or states where Al Gore wants to