- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2000

The real story

John R. Lott Jr., a senior research scholar at the Yale University Law School, says the media are focusing on the wrong story in Florida.
All the attention has been on the supposed misbegotten votes for Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan in Palm Beach County votes that Democrats say were intended for Al Gore. But with "16,695 registered members of the American Reform, Reform and Independent parties, Palm Beach is a hotbed of Reform Party activity," Mr. Lott points out.
"Indeed, it has the second highest total Reform and Independent party membership of any county in the state," he said in an op-ed piece yesterday in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
On the other hand, the media have ignored the suppression of the Republican vote in Florida's western Panhandle as the result of the TV networks' declaring the state for Mr. Gore before 8 p.m. Polls were still open in the Panhandle, and Mr. Lott after examining Republican turnout in those counties from 1988 to 2000 concludes that the TV networks cost George W. Bush a minimum of 10,000 votes there.
Based on the damage the TV networks have done to democracy in this country, Mr. Lott said they should seriously consider abolishing exit polls to forecast election results.

The coming fury

"It is now a certainty that whoever finally wins this election will be considered an illegitimate president by tens of millions of politically engaged Americans," New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.
"If Gore prevails, conservatives will believe his victory is a mockery of the rule of law. If Bush prevails, liberals will believe that narrow legalism will have trumped the popular will. The people who hold these opinions will not forget them, as some are complacently predicting. They are the Americans who live and breathe politics and ideology," Mr. Podhoretz said.
"After the victor is clear, polls will certainly reveal the country is uniting behind the president-elect. Don't believe them. They will involve the 100 million Americans over the age of 18 who did not cast a vote in this election, and they will say whatever sounds nicest and most pleasing.
"Those unengaged folk are the only reason America will maintain any sort of political stability in the coming few years and they will not be of any use when the dragon's fire begins to spew forth from the mouths of those, in Washington and across the country, who believe the election has been stolen from their man."

Gas on the fire

"As the accusations and lawsuits proliferate in Florida, the struggle over last week's election results may have already reached a level that dangerously weakens whoever finally wins the White House," the Los Angeles Times' Ronald Brownstein writes, citing "analysts in both parties."
"Both George W. Bush and Al Gore hoped that this election would allow them to quell the partisan hostilities that have immobilized Washington for much of President Clinton's two terms and reached an especially toxic level since his impeachment trial. Instead, the battle over Florida's 25 electoral votes has thrown new fuel on the smoldering resentment between the parties," Mr. Brownstein said.
" 'It's really as if a whole new natural gas pipeline was put in,' said Bill Miller, an Austin, Texas-based consultant who works with both parties. 'The flame is burning very hot right now.'
"If Bush is declared the Florida winner and thus claims the White House, most Democrats are likely to believe he won only because many ballots intended for Gore were not counted. That conclusion will only deepen if Florida's Republican secretary of state succeeds in cutting off manual recounts of the ballots after 5 p.m. EST [yesterday]. If recounts proceed and Gore edges ahead to win Florida and the presidency, Republicans will surely think the election has been stolen a sentiment conservatives are already expressing. Either way, the losing side in one of the closest elections in U.S. history is likely to think the winners cheated to take the prize."

The Gore railroad

" 'Seek and ye shall find,' says the Good Book. No one puts more faith in this proposition than the vice president's lawyers: Given the time, they know, Democratic counters in Democratic counties seeking more votes for the Democratic candidate for president will find them," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Indeed, Time.com already reports that when helpful election officials in Pinellas County, which went for Al Gore, 'removed the chaff from ballots before they were submitted for recount by the machines, Gore-Lieberman picked up an additional 417 votes,' " the newspaper observed in an editorial yesterday.
"It is hard not to admit the obvious: The Gore campaign is trying to railroad a victory. Nothing captures the true intentions behind this strategy better than the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board's announcement of its 2-1 decision to proceed with a hand count. They held this press conference at 2 a.m. Sunday, in the middle of the night. An excerpt appears below.
"Canvassing board member Carol Roberts walked everyone through her math there could be 1,900 more votes for Mr. Gore out there! and then voted to go ahead with a full hand count. Ms. Roberts was joined in this 2-1 decision by Theresa LePore, a Democrat, and arguably the 2000 election's single most controversial person: She is the designer of the now infamous Palm Beach butterfly ballot.

Buchanan weighs in

As if Palm Beach County election officials didn't have enough to worry about, a third presidential candidate has waded into the Florida firestorm.
Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, through his Washington attorney, complained late Monday that Palm Beach officials had not notified him of details of a manual recount. Such notification is required under Florida law, wrote attorney Thomas M. Buchanan, and the Reform Party candidate demanded that the county cease any hand recounting.
"In the event that you refuse to stop the recount and allow Mr. Buchanan or a member of the Reform Party to participate in the process, we will have no choice but to seek injunctive relief to stop the process in its track," the lawyer wrote.
Thomas Buchanan, who is the brother of the candidate, said yesterday he had received no response from Palm Beach County and was considering filing a lawsuit.

Gunfight

Twenty-six Texas state legislators have announced they will sue 19 cities and five counties across the nation in defense of the right to bear arms.
The defendants in the suit, scheduled to be brought today, have sought to bankrupt gun makers with a series of lawsuits blaming the gun industry for violence in their locales.
"Folks, this is no laughing matter," said state Rep. Suzanna Hupp. "The events that have transpired as a direct result of the lawsuits threaten, and may irrevocably damage, the right of Americans to keep and bear arms. More must be done to protect our constitutional rights."
Among the cities stalking gun makers are Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Atlanta.
The Civil Liberties Defense Foundation and the Young Conservatives of Texas are joining in the countersuit.

No sense of irony

The Rand Corporation, which appeared to take sides in the presidential election, held a news conference yesterday to release a report it said would help the winning candidate get off to a running start.
The corporation, with no sense of irony, said it had organized a Transition 2001 panel of about 50 leading experts and former high officials of both parties to prepare recommendations for the new president.
If Republican George W. Bush should be the next president, it is not clear how much interest he will have in anything produced by the Rand Corporation.
Rand released a long study in July that said Texas schools were among the best in the country, boosting Mr. Bush's credentials as an education reformer. But in the closing weeks of a tight campaign, the corporation turned around and released a short "study paper" that questioned the earlier study. The author of that report then went on television and, backed by the Gore campaign, suggested that Texas schools were not very good.

County by county

USA Today notes that George W. Bush won a majority of the vote in 2,434 counties, while Al Gore was the winning candidate in 677 counties. The Gore counties had a square mileage of 580,134 and a population of 127 million, while the Bush counties covered 2,427,039 square miles with a population of 143 million.
Since 1990, according to USA Today analyst Paul Overberg, the counties won by Mr. Bush have grown at an average rate of 14 percent, compared with the 5 percent growth rate in the Gore counties.

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