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Jewish World Review Dec. 12, 2000/ 15 Kislev, 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Consumer Reports

It's time to raise
high Florida's standards -- THE COURTS, particularly the Florida Supreme Court, are repressing people and it's got to stop.

If the endless election has taught us anything, beyond an understanding of the matriculation procedures at the Electoral College, it's that we've got to have standards. We've got to show a little consideration for others. Above all, we've got to make people feel good about themselves. What else is government for?

This is the Democratic message, loud and clear, delivered ad nauseam morning, noon and through every night on every cable-TV channel between here and eternity. But some election judges in Florida just don't get it. And if you don't get it, you don't get it. It's enough to make a yellow dog cry, particularly a yellow dog whose motto is "others."

For example, when the judges in Broward County looked at the ballots the machines couldn't count, they tried really, really hard to figure out what the voter really meant when he/ she couldn't punch a hole in his/her ballot, or even put a dent or a dimple in it. Some judges held the ballot up to the light, to see whether the ballot could be pregnant with a dimple, and other judges went even farther, and looked to see who else the citizen had voted for in other races on the ballot. (It has never been made quite clear why the punching power of these worthies seemed to peter out only on the presidential line.)

In Palm Beach County, on the other hand, the election judges didn't pay attention to the dimples, pregnant or not, as if getting a ballot in a family way was not really any of the business of election judges.

This lack of a coherent or consistent standard is what seemed to bother the Supremes most yesterday. Justice David Souter, a bachelor who lived for decades past puberty with his mom (who may not have explained to him how ballots and other things actually get pregnant), told David Boies, Al Gore's $800-an-hour trial lawyer, that if the Supremes allow the recounts to go forward they might have to offer guidance as to how to count the chads, hanging, clinging, pregnant or otherwise.

"If we respond to this issue . . ." Mr. Justice Souter said, "I think we would have a responsibility to tell the Florida courts what to do about it."

Well, yes, of course, but if we really, really want to do the right thing we must not stand on the legal technicalities that only constipate the body politic. This is what the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton, the two theological giants of our age, and Prof. Alan Dershowitz, the eminent Harvard notability and perhaps the most brilliant ornament of the law in this century (just ask him), have been trying to tell us.

In the beginning, light years and 35 days ago, Professor Dershowitz identified the problem as the systematic disenfranchisement of "Holocaust survivors" who live in the million-dollar condos along Florida's gold coast, who were presumably disenfranchised by ancient Nazis from Auschwitz disguised as Republican election officials. (This part of the Dershowitz revelation is not clear). The instrument of disenfranchisement was the so-called "butterfly ballot," designed to confuse little old ladies who can handle a dozen bingo cards at once and detect with computerlike precision a 6-cent miscalculation of her share of the check when she's lunching with eight of her pals, but who cannot figure out what an arrow on a ballot meant when it pointed to the hole for Al and Joe.

When that argument died the little old ladies couldn't miss their tee times the Rev. Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton stepped up with the news that Bull Connor and Orval Faubus had been at work again repressing black voters. A record turnout in black precincts propelled the black vote to 16 percent of the statewide total, even though black voters make up just 13 percent of the electorate. You can imagine what the turnout would have been but for all those snarling police dogs and tumescent fire hoses. Many of these black precincts were equipped with only hand-me-down voting machines, which confused many first-time voters into voting twice.

Incredibly, these ballots were disqualified. But why shouldn't these voters have been allowed to vote twice? Such votes could have been considered reparations for all those times when they were not allowed to vote at all.

And what of all the voters, black and white, who would have voted but couldn't find a parking place, and went sadly home? Doesn't the state have an obligation to provide parking places to well-meaning citizens? What about voters who went out for a late lunch and couldn't make it through heavy traffic? Or those who would have voted if the election had been held on a more convenient day? Don't these people get any consideration?

What kind of rotten country is this, anyway?

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


12/08/00: A President Bush, and about time, too
12/05/00: Here come the judge --- and he's got a hook
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