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Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2000/ 9 Kislev, 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Consumer Reports

Here come the judge ---
and he's got a hook -- SOMEBODY find the hook. We've got to get that guy outta here. It's all over, Al.

The educated good ol' boy with the improbable uptown name, N. Sanders Sauls, wrote finis in a Florida courtroom to Al Gore's improbable pursuit of a judicial presidency in plain and unadorned English, shorn of all but the necessary legalese that lawyers use to confuse us.

The vice president, said Judge Sauls, "failed to carry the requisite burden of proof."

George W.'s 537-vote margin is all he needs to win Florida's 25 electoral votes, certified by the State of Florida. That certification looks ever more likely to stand. Al can hide for a day or two longer, but there's no place left to run.

The plain English employed by Judge Sauls was contagious. David Boies, Al's $800-an-hour mouthpiece who usually uses two dozen $1.98 words when two or three of the nickel-and-dime variety would suffice, said it with unaccustomed economy: "They won. We lost. We're appealing."

Well, of course. But this time there seems to be scant grounds for appeal. Even this Florida Supreme Court will be limited to a consideration of the law, and whether Judge Sauls interpreted it correctly. But not the evidence. The evidence is wholly within the purview of the trial court. The trial court said Al had none. The law, as set out by Judge Sauls, looks clear enough.

Not only that, but the Florida court is aware, at the cost of considerable pain and humiliation, that a higher court is looking closely over the shoulders of the men and women on the Tallahassee bench. If it's any consolation to Al, and it isn't, he's not the only player who got a spanking yesterday. The Florida supremes took an awful public licking at the hands of the United States Supreme Court, which barely disguised its contempt for the Tallahassee handiwork.

"After reviewing the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court," the justices in Washington said, "we find that there is considerable uncertainty as to the precise grounds for the decision."

There was more: "It is fundamental that state courts be left free and unfettered by us in interpreting their state constitutions. But it is equally important that ambiguous or obscure adjudications by state courts do not stand as barriers to a determination by this court of the validity under the federal constitution of state action. Intelligent exercise of our appellate powers compels us to ask for the elimination of the obscurities and ambiguities from the opinions of such cases."

Stripped of the polite language judges invariably use in expressing their contempt for hacks of the bar, the court was saying: "It's fairly obvious that you ladies and gents can't write in the English language, but you can't read it, either." You could almost hear Ruth Bader Ginsburg whispering to David H. Souter: "Hiring the handicapped is a wonderful and noble thing to do, but do they have to put the seven biggest dopes in Florida on the state Supreme Court?" Or Antonin Scalia saying, sotto voce, to Clarence Thomas: "Did the mail-order barber and beauty college where the Florida supremes got their law degrees never require any of them to attend class?"

This entire post-election charade, unique in the annals of the bizarre, reeks of partisan guile and the cultivation of illiteracy in the pursuit of ignorance. The fundamental argument employed by Al and his lawyers is that his voters are too dumb to punch holes in paper, and Democrats ought to be allowed to count the votes as many times as it takes to come up with the correct sums. Al's first "victims" were the elderly Jewish widows of Palm Beach "Holocaust survivors" in the tender description of the Left Rev. Jesse Jackson, the man who famously called New York City "Hymietown." The Jewish widows thought maybe they might have cast their votes for Pat Buchanan.

When all the crocodile tears were wrung from that exercise, the eminent Baptist divine argued that it wasn't just elderly Jewish widows who had been disenfranchised, but African Americans, too, who were so confused by the complexities of the ballot (designed by deceitful white folks) and oppressed by wicked segregationists with snarling police dogs that thousands of black voters had run from the polling places in terror. It was worse than Selma, or at least as bad as Soweto. Wasn't that Bull Connor with a fire hose? Or maybe it was Orval Faubus with a horse whip. Just like Republicans to call two Democrats back from the dead to do the dirty work. How else explain the record turnout of black voters?

This is the measure of Al's contempt for the rituals of democracy. "I'll do anything to win," Al told us during the campaign that is now but a distant echo in tin ears. But this time, maybe, the bad guys won't win after all.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


11/28/00: Cry no tears for Al, lawyers are the losers
11/21/00: The useful loathing of America's sons
11/17/00: When this is all over, we spray for lawyers
11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach

11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck

11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours

11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings

10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice

10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell

10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights

10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools

10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief

10/06/00: AlGore's black problem

10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote

10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio

09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp

09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes

09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply

09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'

09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye

09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset

09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap

08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal

08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost

08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash

08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme

08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser

08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy

07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers

07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself

07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?

07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?

07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit

07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink

07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season

07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results

07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate

06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!

06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve

06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman

06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat

06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation

06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'

06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch

06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak

05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper

05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks

05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes

05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example

05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans

05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales

05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man

05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat

05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary

04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood

04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks

04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go

04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno

04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)

04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts

03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table

03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day

03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult

03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology

03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain

03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden