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Jewish World Review Dec. 7, 2000 / 11 Kislev 5761

Don Feder

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The Dems fallback position -- delegitimize Bush -- WITH EACH PASSING DAY, it becomes more apparent why the Democratic Party refuses to concede this election: so that when Gov. George W. Bush is finally sworn in as our 43rd president, the office will be worthless.

Unlike Vice President Al Gore, his party isn't in denial. Democrats have chosen to go along with Gore's obsession to make it impossible for Bush to govern.

That it's disastrous for the country to have a president whose legitimacy is questioned doesn't even enter into their calculations.

For the next four years, they will repeat, mantra fashion the following: Gore won the popular vote. Bush was elected president with the electoral votes of a state where his margin of victory was .009 percent. Given that thousands of Democratic votes were "undercounted," it's probable that the vice president was the real winner in Florida, hence of the presidency. Bush stole the election.

Virtually any close election can be contested in this way. The only difference in Florida, besides its exceptional closeness, is the exceptional job Democrats have done of challenging the outcome with incessant allegations of miscounting, voter confusion and intimidation by rampaging Republican mobs.

If Florida is in doubt, so is Gore's supposed lead in the popular vote nationally.

It appears that Gore took 49 percent of the popular vote, while Bush got 48 percent. The day after the election, the vice president was ahead by about 358,000 votes out of more than 103 million cast. However, that tally did not include absentee ballots, which some states are still counting. As these tend to break Republican, by the time the dust settles, Gore's narrow lead could evaporate.

Not that it matters. The outcome of this election will be decided like every other presidential contest for the past 200 years -- as specified by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution -- in the Electoral College. There, Bush will have the only majority that ultimately counts.

When Bush becomes president, will he have less of a mandate than his immediate predecessor? In 1992, Bill Clinton won the White House with 43 percent of the vote, the lowest percentage of the popular vote of any president elected in this century.

In other words, the future perjurer was rejected by 57 percent of the electorate. To underscore the point, two years later his party lost both houses of Congress. Yet there was no talk of Clinton lacking a mandate. Even after four years in office (and buoyed by a strong economy), the playboy of the Western world was re-elected as a minority president, with 49.2 percent of the vote.

Last year, Clinton became the first elected president to be impeached. Only a partisan vote in the Senate prevented his removal from office. He admitted to carrying on an affair in the White House and lying to the American people, most of whom believed he lied under oath, as well.

Yet as soon as the Senate trial was over, it was back to business as if nothing extraordinary had happened.

Within days of his acquittal, Clinton was on the move, dragging us into the most dubious foreign-policy adventure in our history -- the war on Yugoslavia.

For almost two years, he's continued to appoint federal judges, sign executive orders and vigorously pursue an agenda including permanent normal trade relations for China, the decimation of our military and opposition to any broad-based tax cut. No one questioned his legitimacy.

Bush's effectiveness will depend on his attitude. If he's timid, if he allows the media to put him on the defensive (with cries of Groundswell George), the public will wonder if he really is the president.

On the other hand, if Bush takes the following posture, he will succeed: "I won a hard-fought election against an incumbent party that had the economy in its favor. My positions on taxes, Social Security, national defense and judicial appointments were clear cut. And I intend to do everything in my power to put them into effect."

The American people will have an opportunity to reassess the situation in congressional elections now less than two years away. In the meantime, they deserve a president whose authority is not in doubt. Since Nov. 7, Democrats have done everything in their power to deny them that.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate