Jewish World Review Dec. 15, 2000 / 18 Kislev, 5761
As it was, Gore gave the finest speech of his life, prompting thoughts of Shakespeare's words, long associated with the beheaded king of England, Charles I: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it." As much can be said of Al Gore's campaign.
But though Gore found it within himself to sail away from this mess majestically, one superb eight-minute speech cannot erase the damage his scorched earth tactics leave in their wake.
Yes, the nation will now give President-elect Bush a chance to lead, but the suspicion and rancor will not melt away so easily. Millions of Democrats now believe that an "activist" United States Supreme Court halted a recount that might have given the election to Al Gore in order to hand the presidency to George Bush.
In fact, it was only the intervention of the Florida Supreme Court that permitted the election result to remain in limbo for so long. Every other court in Florida (including several judges who were Democrats) had ruled against Gore. The U.S. Supreme Court attempted to reprove Florida's Supremes gently the first time. But when four members of that court steamrolled ahead with their wholesale revision of Florida's election code anyway, the U.S. Supreme Court (7-2) was left with little choice but to reverse a plainly unconstitutional intervention.
Liberals have charged conservatives with hypocrisy for welcoming the Supreme Court's participation in this controversy, but the charge is silly. The Florida Court should have demonstrated to everyone's satisfaction what conservatives mean by "activist" judges. They rewrote the Florida election code not once but twice to favor Al Gore. For the Supreme Court to let that stand would have been the real triumph of judicial activism. The Supreme Court merely reestablished the rule of law.
The most harmful effect of Gore's post-election effort will be the added cynicism and despair in the black community. Assisted by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Joseph Lowry, and others, Democrats purposely and falsely incited black voters to believe that they had been "disenfranchised" by the denial of a hand recount. They falsely suggested that thousands of votes were never counted, while also implying that a racist conspiracy was at work.
The truth, of course, is that this was a race between two rich, white guys -- one of whom wanted it so badly that he was willing to do almost anything to win (by his own admission). And since a Democrat ace in the hole is black antipathy toward Republicans, they played that particular card to the hilt.
In reality, all of the ballots were counted -- and not just once but
twice, as the law required. The machines counted the ballots of black voters in exactly the
same way as the ballots of every other group -- and as James Baker tirelessly pointed out; the
great thing about machines is that they are neither Democrats nor Republicans. Not every ballot
contained a vote, thus the new term "undervote." But as the U.S. Supreme Court found, a bunch
of partisans poring over ballots with magnifying glasses and then voting, two out of three,
about whom the voter intended to select, is not "counting." For his own selfish reason, Gore
wanted only the "undervote" in heavily Democratic districts "hand-counted," yet he dressed it
up in civil rights talk and soon had black Americans convinced that somehow this was about
disrespecting black voters. That kind of cynical use of people's sensitivities is
unconscionable, and it will take a lot more than one gracious speech to