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Jewish World Review Dec. 6, 2000 / 10 Kislev, 5761

Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly
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Consumer Reports

Gore's next task: Face reality -- THE RULING by Leon County Circuit Court Judge N. Sanders Sauls that demolished Al Gore's claim to another recount of the Florida vote in three selected Democratic counties very nearly finishes the Long Election. Gore is, of course, appealing to the Florida Supreme Court, but it is unlikely that even a court dominated by Democrats will overturn Judge Sauls's well-reasoned ruling. This is especially so in that he found against Gore not just in the interpretation of the law but on the evidence.

There also remain lawsuits brought by Democratic activists in Seminole and Martin counties; these beg the courts to throw out close to 25,000 absentee ballots on the grounds that election officials allowed Republicans to add voter identification numbers to a few thousand of the ballots. But in these challenges, no one is alleging fraud or anything close to it; the information the Republicans added was correct, Democrats had access to the same information and the Republicans' actions in no way manipulated the vote. It would be remarkably radical for the courts to disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters on the strength of this.

Even if the state Supreme Court overturns Judge Sauls and rules in favor of Gore, and even if the Democrats win the Seminole and Martin cases, Gore still will have no real chance of gaining the White House. This is so for two reasons: First, either of these rulings would be appealed and the odds are that Gore would lose the appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court signaled in its unanimous ruling Monday that it is watching the Florida Supreme Court for any signs of overreaching.

Second, there is not enough time to recount the ballots before the Dec. 12 deadline for Florida to choose its electors for the electoral college vote on Dec. 18. And Florida's Republican legislators, who control both houses, have made clear that they will choose the electors themselves rather than miss the Dec. 12 date. These electors would support Bush. The choice might then ultimately come before the House of Representatives, but here again, the numbers mean victory for Bush.

Since Gore ultimately cannot win, it is reckless and selfish of him to continue a fight that can only promise further wreckage. Rather than force this back into the U.S. Supreme Court or, far worse, into Congress, he should withdraw his pointless appeal and concede now. He should also publicly ask the Democrats waging the Seminole and Martin challenges to abandon their cases; he should remind them that he has based his challenge entirely on a call for counting every vote, and that he could not, in conscience, take the presidency on the strength of dis-counting some 25,000 votes.

But if Gore was the sort of man to do something of that nature, we wouldn't be where we are in the first place. So what, realistically, should he do?

He should tell his people, now, to stop employing the count-every-vote rhetoric, which argues, to tremendously destructive effect, that a Bush victory is illegitimate because potentially verdict-altering Gore votes were ignored. The assertion that the Gore effort was simply about making sure every vote was counted was always embarrassingly false. The votes were counted twice by machine, and Gore's efforts to hand count them were confined only to Democratic counties where Democratic-controlled canvassing boards might be expected to "find" some hundreds of Gore votes among thousands of dubious ballots. What is more, Democrats have, when it has suited them, as in Seminole and Martin counties and as with military ballots, sought to win through rejecting Republican votes.

What is more still, the so-called "uncounted" votes of Miami-Dade County are not uncounted; these are most likely ballots in which voters punched holes in other races but chose not to cast votes in the presidential contest. This happens, especially when you have candidates as uninspiring as Gore and Bush. As Gore must know, the tiny percentage of the vote that was "uncounted" in Miami-Dade is entirely in line with the percentage in past elections and with the national percentage in this election.

Gore should, when he finally accepts his loss, acknowledge that there was as full and as fair a count in Florida as could be achieved, and that he lost this count fully and fairly. He should publicly speak against the idea, already bruited by Democrats, of private parties employing Florida's sunshine laws to once again recount the Florida vote and determine who "really" won Florida, in an obvious effort to further delegitimize Bush's presidency.

As far as can be reasonably determined, George Bush really won Florida, and he really won the election, and it is past time for Al Gore to face reality.

Michael Kelly is the editor of National Journal. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


11/15/00: The Great Defender
11/02/00: The Democrats' delusion
10/26/00: Phony Truce
10/19/00: The Talking Cure
10/12/00: Doves' Day of Reckoning
10/05/00: Conan the veep
09/28/00: Dumb vs. Dishonest
09/21/00: Flapping furiously
09/14/00: Down AlGore's Memory Hole
08/24/00: AlGore's Flex-O-Joe
08/17/00: The Joyful Clinton Nation
08/09/00: A Calculated Risk
08/03/00: New Hope for Nice Guys
07/27/00: But What About Dad?
07/20/00: U.S. Handiwork In Sierra Leone
07/13/00: President With a Porpoise
07/06/00: The Importance of Being Earnest
06/29/00: A Press Obsession With the Death Penalty
06/21/00: Gore and the Goodies
06/15/00: Network Snooze
06/01/00: Sunshine on My Shoulders
05/24/00: Last Chance for a Hardened Prevaricator
05/17/00: Cuomo's Thought Police
05/10/00: Hammering DeLay
05/04/00: Some Closing Thoughts
04/28/00: Endangering Elian
04/19/00: Imitation Activism
04/12/00: Why they hate Bubba
04/05/00: Census and nonesense
03/29/00: The Stiffs and Their Statuettes
03/15/00: Anarchy in Kosovo
03/08/00: Reform joke
03/01/00:The Pinhead Factor
03/01/00: The Christian Right: Past Its Prime . . .
02/24/00: McCain's Majority
02/16/00: Sharpton's Supplicants
02/09/00: The GOP Pilgrims' Sad Tale
02/02/00: Fodder For the GOP
01/26/00: Million-Dollar Mediocrity
01/19/00: Campaign Reform: Let's Pretend
01/12/00: Never Again? Oh, Never Mind
01/05/00: Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In
12/22/99: Gore's TV Gambit
12/15/99: Campaigns Do Clarify
12/08/99: Kosovo's Killers
12/01/99: Not Ready for Prime Time?
11/24/99: The Company He Keeps
11/17/99: Republican Illusion
11/10/99: The Know-Nothing Media
11/03/99: Necessary Partisanship
10/27/99: Buchanan's Gift to George W. Bush
10/21/99: Who are the real friends of the poor?
10/14/99: Gore's 'courage'!?
10/08/99: Republican Stunts
09/23/99: Buchanan's folly
09/16/99: Beatty and Buchanan: That's Entertainment!
09/09/99: Puerto Rico Surprise (Cont'd)
09/02/99: Puerto Rico Surprise
08/12/99:The Age of No Class
08/05/99: Assessing Welfare Reform
07/29/99: On the Wrong Side
07/21/99: Mass Sentimentality
07/15/99: Blame Hillary
07/08/99: Guide to the Arts: For Your Summer Reading . . .
06/30/99: A Perfectly Clintonian Doctrine
06/25/99:Smorgasbord by the Sea
06/16/99: A National Calamity
06/09/99: Stumbling Forward
06/02/99: Commencement '90s-Style
05/26/99: Will we ever learn? Clintochio is a lying ...
05/19/99: Comforting Milosevic
05/13/99: Short-Order Strategists
05/06/99: Four Revolting Spectacles

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