- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2000

Landslide against right-eous Smith

This is in response to Kenneth Smith's Dec. 14 Op-Ed "Landslide Bush." Republicans claim that manual recounts in Florida were unfair because methods of counting the ballots differed from county to county. But how is it possible to have standard counting techniques when each county has its own type of polling machines and ballot forms?
Republicans say that voting methods should be determined by local people and government, not Washington. President-elect George W. Bush's lawyers, however, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that hand counts are flawed because counting methods vary from county to county. What happened to the Republican philosophy that local governments and institutions should make decisions instead of the federal government?
The election proved that liberals do not have a monopoly on hypocrisy and political double standards. The "holier than thou" right wing has revealed its true color, and it is no better than the left.
For those who occupy the middle: The good news is that Vice President Al Gore lost, the bad news is that Mr. Bush won. However, everyone will be safe regardless as long as Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is the country's true leader.
ARAYANA STHANAM
Birmingham, Ala.

Opinions such as those expressed by Kenneth Smith are why so many of us fear the right ("Landslide Bush," Dec. 14). Though he exhibits clear intelligence, he smacks of self-righteousness and demonstrates a frightening degree of adamancy toward his position.
Such a black-and-white view of the world may bring Mr. Smith comfort, but moderates, liberals and Democrats acknowledge that there is no single truth, and correspondingly, no perfect solution to a problem.
One can always find some element of "truth" and use it to justify a belief system, fulfilling one's psychological needs. Mr. Smith's opinion is correct in some ways, but his biases prevent him from seeing the larger truths.
Among the essential points he missed in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision:
The Florida Supreme Court did not specify hand counting standards because the state justices were fearful of countermanding the Florida Legislature's power (which the U.S. Supreme Court had warned against the previous week).
Most constitutional scholars believe that Dec. 18 was the critical deadline for appointing electors, not, as the U.S. Supreme Court determined, Dec. 12. Four of the nine justices balked at the majority ruling.
Though the Dec. 9 injunction on manual recounts imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court mortally wounded Vice President Al Gore's chances, the high court justified the stay on the grounds that the recount might cause Texas Gov. George W. Bush's case irreparable damage.
Most believe that the undervote recount could easily have been completed before Dec. 18, and that the Florida Supreme Court could have determined the standards of such a recount. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out, of the two options not counting any of the undercounted ballots or having a flawed count not counting the ballots was the greater evil.
But then if you accept any of these "truths," you would have to admit that Mr. Bush won the presidency illegitimately without winning Florida.
Because that creates untenable mental anguish, you look for whatever shreds of truth (such as the unfair recounting standards) will conceal the larger picture. We see what we want to see, and thus we're always right.
RICK CHILDS
Mendocino, Calif.

Armstrong Williams has his facts wrong

In his Commentary column condemning the American Medical Association (AMA) resolution calling for the distribution of the morning-after pill over the counter ("Ethical bypass of morning after pill," Dec. 15), Mr. Williams confuses emergency contraception pills with such abortion-inducing drugs as Mifeprex (RU-486).
Emergency contraception pills the subject of the AMA resolution are high dose birth-control pills that, when taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, can prevent an unintended pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed emergency contraception pills safe and effective and approved them for pregnancy prevention only, not for pregnancy termination.
Mifeprex, which appears to be the real target of Mr. Williams' column, is a different drug that is used to terminate pregnancies of up to seven weeks and is taken in combination with another drug, misoprostol. Mifeprex recently received FDA approval as a safe and effective option for early pregnancy termination and has been used safely by European women for more than a decade.
The AMA resolution Mr. Williams refers to in his column applies only to emergency contraception and does not call for the over-the-counter distribution of Mifeprex or any other abortion-inducing drug.
Mr. Williams is entitled to his opinion on the issues of abortion and emergency contraception, but he should make sure to base his argument on hard fact, not misinformation.
KATE MICHELMAN
President
National Abortion Rights Action League
Washington

Electoral votes allow protest votes

A key point is missing from your front-page story about the Electoral College ("Three 'faithless electors' could still give election to Gore," Dec. 15).
The article includes a description of an Internet campaign organized by two California college students. They hope to persuade presidential electors for Texas Gov. George W. Bush to switch their votes to Vice President Al Gore. The article says they believe that "the popular vote should prevail over the Electoral College."
According to the story, "tens of thousands" of people have expressed support for this position.
I find it frustrating that no news organization ever seems to question this premise. Yet the people who question the legitimacy of Mr. Bush's presidency never fail to raise the false argument that "Gore won the popular vote." Rest assured, they will repeat this endlessly for the next four years. It must be challenged.
The "popular vote" for president is meaningless under our Constitution. By adding together all the votes cast in 50 states and the District of Columbia, in separate elections for presidential electors, Gore got about 337,000 more votes than Mr. Bush. So what?
Neither of these candidates ran a campaign for the purpose of winning the "popular vote." Rather, each candidate's objective was to win a plurality of votes in key states, for the purpose of winning all of those states' electoral votes, with the ultimate goal of amassing at least 270. If winning the "popular vote" had been the goal, the result would certainly have been different.
Just yesterday, a friend from Virginia told me he voted for the Libertarian presidential candidate, Harry Browne, only because he was secure in the knowledge that the candidate he hoped to win, Mr. Bush, would handily win Virginia's 13 electoral votes with or without his support.
Likewise, "protest" votes cast for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in such states as Massachusetts, New York and other Democratic Party strongholds would certainly have been more wisely cast for Mr. Gore if the voter's objective was to help his preferred candidate win the national "popular vote."
In most states, "third party" voters have the luxury of strategically casting such votes only because the winner of their state's electoral votes is a foregone conclusion by Election Day.
This also raises the issue of voters from both major parties in such states as Wyoming, Vermont, Rhode Island, or even Texas, who did not bother to vote because the outcome in their states was never in doubt.
Millions of people surely would have had different motivations in casting their ballots if the goal had been to win the national "popular vote."
When partisans try to discredit the president-elect, they should not be allowed to get away with using the argument that "Gore won the popular vote."
That's nonsense, and the news media have an obligation to question it.
SCOTT E. HUCH
Falls Church

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