- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Stop and think

"The theft of the presidency proceeds apace," the New York Post said yesterday in a front-page editorial.

"A hand count of electoral returns began in four heavily Democratic Florida counties [Sunday] a shockingly subjective undertaking, front-end-loaded to deliver the Sunshine State, and thus the White House, to Vice President Al Gore," the newspaper said.

"But before that happens, the veep and his high-powered sidekicks need to think long and hard about what they'll do with a presidency that would amount to possession of stolen property.

"That is, a presidency devoid of moral authority to govern a prescription for civil dissonance that will make the Clinton years seem like small beer in comparison."

A harsh verdict

"Regrettably, and recklessly, during the past 100 hours the Gore campaign has begun to poison the wellspring of American democracy," William Bennett, the author and former education secretary, wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.

"We are beginning to see the early consequences: street demonstrations, protests, increasing acrimony and bitterness. Things will only get worse, far worse, if they prolong this ordeal. To use a favorite Gore campaign phrase, 'You ain't seen nothing yet.' "

Mr. Bennett noted that Richard Nixon took the high road 40 years ago when he decided not to challenge fraud-tainted results in Illinois and Texas, and that Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft did the same thing last week when he declined to pursue a court challenge of his loss to a dead man.

"But Mr. Gore has chosen a different path. Every day, it seems, he and his lieutenants pull a new trick out of their bag, challenge settled practices and issue irresponsible threats and baseless accusations. The end game is clear: to throw sand in the machinery of democracy and destabilize American presidential politics. I hope, and still believe, these efforts will fail. But whether they do or not, Mr. Gore is well on his way to earning the scorn of his countrymen and a harsh verdict from history."

Scandalous behavior

"The presidential election of 2000 is the impeachment drama of 1998-99 all over again. And Al Gore is Bill Clinton. Only Gore's behavior is worse worse because Clinton's misdeeds were of a gravity about which people might at least plausibly disagree," David Tell and William Kristol write in an editorial for the Weekly Standard.

"What Gore has done is directly challenge something explicitly articulated in the Constitution and therefore indisputable and indisputably central to our system of government: the mechanism by which we have selected our chief executives for more than 200 years. This is a rather big deal, is it not?

"No good can come of the massive confusion Gore's designated lieutenants have deliberately sown, in his name and at his behest, since Election Day last week. They have publicized unsubstantiated indeed, altogether baseless accusations of illegality against the popular-vote canvass conducted in Palm Beach County, Florida. They have loudly insisted that this purported illegality will be corrected only when Gore is finally awarded Florida's 25 decisive electoral votes whether or not it can ever be shown that his name was checked on a plurality of valid ballots originally cast in that state.

"Worst, perhaps, they have done violence to civic understanding in America by repeatedly suggesting that because Gore appears to have won a plurality of the nationwide popular vote, he somehow deserves Florida's electoral votes and thus the presidency."

The magazine added: "It is a scandal that any major-party presidential candidate should ever authorize such a claim to be made on his behalf."

Kennedy to quit post

Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy will step down as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the congressman's office announced yesterday.

Mr. Kennedy took the job two years ago with the objective of restoring Democrats to a majority in the House. He failed.

Mr. Kennedy wants to spend more time dealing with constituents, building a new home and tending to other personal matters, said Tony Marcella, the congressman's chief of staff.

The 33-year-old son of Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy instead has his sights set on a spot on the Appropriations Committee, the source of many lucrative projects for home districts, Mr. Marcella said.

In the past two years under Mr. Kennedy, the DCCC has nearly tripled the amount of money brought in, from $37 million to $97 million.

"He has also made it clear to the leadership he will continue to raise money for the party and to help candidates by traveling to places where he needed," Mr. Marcella said. "He might not have the title any more, but he's still going to work as hard as he can to have his reality come true, and that's to have a Democratic House in two years."

Tolerant nation

Regardless of whether Joseph I. Lieberman becomes the next vice president of the United States, his historic campaign as the first Jew on a major party ticket proved how tolerant the nation has become, Jewish leaders tell the Associated Press.

"This election confirms the complete acceptance of Jews in American society, if we needed any additional proof," said Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

Mr. Lieberman's candidacy was "not so much a breakthrough as a confirmation of the status of Jews," said Conservative Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of Jewish Theological Seminary.

The campaign "shows that being Jewish is not an impediment to any position in the land," said Ari L. Goldman, author of "Being Jewish" and a Columbia University journalism professor.

There wasn't any notable shift last week among Jewish voters, who are always heavily Democratic. Their 79 percent support for the 2000 Democratic ticket compares with 78 percent in 1996 and 80 percent in 1992, reporter Richard N. Ostling said.

Many Jews felt some private anxiety that the fall campaign would stir up anti-Semitism, said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. But it never happened, except for some activity "on the fringes," including Internet sites.

Exit polling showed 17 percent thought Mr. Lieberman's religion would be "more likely" to make him a good vice president and only 8 percent "less likely," while 72 percent saw no difference.

The last Senate race

"The winner of the Washington Senate race should become clear [today], when state election officials plan to finish counting ballots in King County, a Democratic stronghold that [Democratic] ex-Rep. Maria Cantwell carried, and smaller localities that back [Republican] Sen. Slade Gorton," Roll Call reports.

Mr. Gorton was clinging to a narrow lead. A Cantwell victory would move Democrats into a 50-50 tie in the Senate.

Equally matched

"For whoever ultimately captures the White House, the overriding political lesson of this election is that the nation's two partisan camps are now equally matched," the Los Angeles Times' Ronald Brownstein writes.

"Measured by the division of the popular vote between Republican Bush and Democrat Gore, the Electoral College results and the makeup of Congress, the two parties are more closely divided today than at any point since the late 19th century," Mr. Brownstein said.

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