- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 1, 2000

Looking back at last year, we are glad we are not in the business of politics because we would have spent the rest of the year nursing a terrific headache trying to make sense of what went on in Florida.

In the late great Florida free-for-all, the Democrats claimed that they were cheated out of votes in traditionally Democratic strongholds because the ballots and instructions were too hard to understand. They pointed out that there were not similar errors in Republican districts. Were the Democrats saying, in effect, that Democrats are dumber than Republicans? Were Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Joe Lieberman seeking to be elected by the dumber portion of the electorate? If that is the case, why bother with debates? Why not just get right to the heart of the matter and give out six packs of Budweiser instead of position papers?

And what about Jesse Jackson? He said that African-Americans were discouraged from voting. Florida today is God's waiting room for Jews, not Mississippi in 1951. How do you discourage someone from voting who wants to vote? Do you give them wrong directions to the local school house? Tell them that the air conditioning is not working at the polling place and all the drug stores in the neighborhood had run out of deodorants? Do you tell them that it's a formal dress event and they were supposed to RSVP if they intended to vote or, that they might miss the early bird special at the delicatessen if they took the time to vote?

On the other hand, what about the people in central Florida, primarily Bush voters, who were really discouraged from voting. If you were in central Florida, sitting back in your trailer park, having dinner, and every television network told you that all of Florida's electoral votes were already declared for Mr. Gore, would you get out of bed to stand in line to cast a vote for something that had already been decided? Of course not, unless there is something about standing in line that gets you personally excited. The truth is, in most parts of Florida, nobody stands in lines unless there is a special on prunes at the supermarket.

In the movie "Destry Rides Again" Marlene Dietrich plays the owner of a saloon in the West, and sings the song "See What The Boys in The Back Room Will Have." The public may feel that in Florida they dance to this tune when they pick their judges.

We all tend to view Florida through a prism as a resort and retirement state. But at its core it is a Southern state, in spitting distance of Mississippi, with Alabama and Georgia as its immediate neighbors. After watching the Florida Supreme Court in action perhaps more than a few people believed that the way they must pick their judges is by some good old boys, sitting in a back room, around the spittoon, with the one getting a bull's-eye naming the next Supreme Court justice.

Given what we now know about how U.S. Supreme Court justices feel about members of the Florida Supreme Court, it is unlikely there will ever be a judge from the Florida Supreme Court sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court. And if one is ever sent there by the Senate, the other judges will make sure that the only office available to him is a small room with a sign on the door, a tile floor, a mirror and running water.

The last election proved to be very expensive in many ways. Legions of TV analysts were hired and exhausted themselves by running from camera to camera and court house steps to court house steps. What if O.J. Simpson would have been inconsiderate enough to murder his wife during the Florida election mess? There would have been none of the usual cast of legal analysts available for the expected panels, and even Geraldo might have ended up talking to an empty desk or have been reduced to calling upon Joey Buttafuoco for an in-depth discussion of our legal system.

During the Florida fiasco TV programs that ran the gamut from soap operas to emergency room shows were unwatched. The daytime TV judges were scolding litigants without a viewer audience because people could see the real thing on the tube at the same price. Newspapers were unread because anybody watching television was aware of events that occurred hours after the paper was printed. And the weekly news magazines were only of historical interest because by the time the postmen delivered them, they were, at best, only good to be put away in closets to be sold years later in flea markets along with the magazines reporting on the Cuban missile crisis. And in the end, after tens of thousands of TV reports, debates, panels of experts, demonstrations, Mr. Lieberman holding up to the light thousands of matzos to see if the holes were completely punched through and armies of lawyers temporarily moving to Florida, it was the U.S. Supreme Court that decided the election the way it should have come out in the first place.

We have a simple solution to end future election problems. It will save billions of dollars, shorten elections, allow lawyers to stay home and continue to chase ambulances and allow people not to miss their favorite soap operas or sitcoms get rid of chads and even the voting machines themselves. The idea is simply to cut out the middleman.

Let the Supreme Court choose who wins, as it did in the last presidential election. That way nobody will have to get out of bed to vote except the nine justices.

Jackie Mason is a comedian and Raoul Felder is an attorney.

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