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Jewish World Review Nov. 29, 2000 / 2 Kislev, 5761

Joseph Perkins

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Election 2000 racks up casualties -- THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION remains in doubt, notwithstanding the anything-but-impartial ruling Nov. 21 by the Florida Supreme Court (whose members are all Democrat appointees, including the chief justice, a former Clinton-Gore fund-raiser).

But there is no doubt that, in the wake of this electoral debacle, certain institutions and principles in this country have suffered irreparable damage. Among them:

  • The legal profession. Lawyers were held in low repute by most Americans even before this presidential election. Now they will be absolutely reviled.

    Indeed, no sooner had the polls closed in Florida than the pro-Democrat American Bar Association sent out an e-mail to its membership asking for 500 volunteers to go to Florida to help the Gore campaign use every legal maneuver possible to overturn the result of the Election Day vote tally and the machine recount.

    So now it's the lawyers, rather than Florida voters, who will determine the winner of the state's 25 electoral votes.

  • The media. The corrupting influence that the media has on the electoral process has been made abundantly clear during this election.

    Indeed, the networks were guilty of the most egregious offense by prematurely, and incorrectly, projecting Gore as the winner in Florida before the polls had closed in the Sunshine State.

    In so doing, they almost certainly depressed Republican votes, as the party faithful probably felt no reason to go to the polls since a Florida defeat meant that George W. Bush would not be elected.

    Of course, the networks couldn't care less if their premature call dampened the Republican turnout. But they are still kicking themselves for subsequently declaring Bush the winner in Florida and, then, taking back that projection.

    "You are probably furious with us, and I don't blame you," CBS news anchor Dan Rather told his viewers.

    Yet, Rather's colleagues in network news continue their efforts to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

    For instance, ABC News has had staff members calling Republican electors, asking them if they might consider changing their vote from Bush to Gore. Mary Hergert, one of Colorado's eight electors, says that the calls sound more like advocacy than journalistic inquiry.

    Indeed, by putting in play this cockeyed notion that some Bush electors might actually defect, Gore loyalists in the news media hope to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • The state of Florida. The nation's fourth most-populous state has made the United States the laughing stock of the world.

    How dare the United States presume to oversee elections in other countries, to adjudge whether another country's leaders have been freely and fairly elected, when Florida has been unable to declare a winner of its electoral votes after two weeks and multiple vote counts.

    And there is not one official in Florida having anything to do with the election, with the recounts, who doesn't have an obvious conflict of interest.

    The secretary of state was a delegate to the Republican National Convention (as the national news media have pointed out at every opportunity). The attorney general was the state chair of the Gore-Lieberman campaign (a fact that, for some reason, has gone largely unmentioned).

    Every lower court judge in Florida that has ruled on some aspect of the vote count and recount is a Democrat appointee. And, again, every member of the state's Supreme Court is a card-carrying Democrat. Yet, the only state official who has done the right thing and recused himself from making decisions that might influence the outcome of the Florida vote is Gov. Jeb Bush.

  • The 14th Amendment. The Constitution guarantees equal protection of the laws. County election officials in Florida, with the blessing this week of the state's high court, have turned this principle on its head.

    Indeed, by allowing Democrat officials to select four overwhelmingly Democratic counties (out of Florida's 67) to conduct a hand recount, the state of Florida has declared that certain of its residents, its voters, enjoy more-than-equal protection of the laws.

    This is why the outcome of the Florida vote count should be taken out of the hands of obviously partisan county election officials, out of the hands of obviously biased state judges and justices (most of whom play an active part in Democrat party politics), and into the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

For when state officials or state jurists abrogate the U.S. Constitution as they surely have in Florida, it is imperative that the nation's highest court intervene.

JWR periodic contributor Joseph Perkins is San Diego Union-Tribune columnist and a television commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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