- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 2004

Seattle stunner

The elections director in Seattle’s King County said yesterday that hundreds of absentee ballots were mistakenly rejected in the heavily Democratic stronghold — enough to swing the close governor’s race to Democrat Christine Gregoire.

A statewide hand recount is under way across Washington state after Republican Dino Rossi came out ahead of Mrs. Gregoire by just 42 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

Dean Logan, county elections director, said that tomorrow he will ask the county Canvass Board to amend the results of the Nov. 2 election in his county. Agreement is likely: Mr. Logan has a seat on the three-person board, and one of the other members is a Democrat.

Mr. Logan said election workers mistakenly rejected 561 absentee ballots because they thought signatures on the ballots did not match original voter-registration records, the Associated Press reports.

However, he said the signatures simply were not on file in the county’s computerized voter-registration system and that original registration records should have been checked.

One of the rejected ballots belonged to King County Council Chairman Larry Phillips, the Seattle Times reported.

Blogger power

“Bloggers received a lot of attention for helping to expose the fake documents backing up Dan Rather’s ‘60 Minutes’ story on President Bush and the Texas Air National Guard. But that’s only one of the interesting ways in which the Internet is empowering people and shaping political coverage,” John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“Indeed, the real power of bloggers in politics is how they interact with their mainstream media counterparts. Online journalism gives critics of the media a way to talk back, a platform from which to point out bias, hypocrisy and factual errors. And if the criticisms are on target, old-media institutions can’t help but take note. That’s exactly what just happened in South Dakota’s epic Senate race between Minority Leader Tom Daschle and his GOP challenger, John Thune,” Mr. Fund said.

“South Dakota Republicans decided that the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, which dominates the state’s media since it’s the only paper with a statewide circulation, was hopelessly biased in favor of Mr. Daschle. ‘The ability to use the Internet to circumvent concentrated media power became a 21st-century updating of 19th-century Dakota populism,’ says John Lauck, a history professor at the University of South Dakota who was allied with Mr. Thune.

“Mr. Lauck and several of his friends collaborated on blogs that constantly reminded voters of contradictions between Mr. Daschle’s voting record and his statements in South Dakota, as well as the Argus Leader’s refusal to acknowledge them.”

Electoral reality

“For the first time since before the New Deal, Republicans are now the majority party from the top of the ballot to the bottom. That’s reality — and we delude ourselves if we take false comfort in the closeness of our loss” in the presidential election, Democratic Leadership Council founder and chief executive officer Al From and president Bruce Reed write in the organization’s magazine, Blueprint.

“This was the second national election in a row — 2002 was the first — in which Republicans won a majority of the votes cast. That broke a string of three presidential elections and three congressional elections in a row in which neither party won a majority. Moreover, this election was the latest chapter in a four-decade swing to the Republicans that began after Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide victory,” the writers said.

“The dimensions of that swing — and our decline — are staggering. In 1964, Johnson won 60.6 percent of the popular vote and 90 percent of the electoral votes, and Democrats held 2-to-1 advantages in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and among governors and state legislators. Today, the Republicans not only control the White House and both houses of Congress, but a majority of statehouses and state legislatures. …

“In 1964, according to the University of Michigan, more than one-half of all Americans — 52 percent — identified themselves as Democrats, compared with 25 percent who identified themselves as Republicans and 24 percent as independents. In the 2004 election, party identification was dead even: 37 percent Democrat, 37 percent Republican, and 26 percent independent.

“We cannot assume this trend will end on its own. We know the Republicans will do everything they can to keep it going. It is up to Democrats to stop it.”

Burying the news

“Fake National Guard documents. Missing explosives. The draft. During the 2004 campaign, no story that made the president look bad was too petty, too contrived, or too false to command the attention of the establishment media,” Chris Weinkopf writes at the American Enterprise Online (www.taemag.com).

“Yet there was a key, last-minute development that reflected none too kindly on John Kerry. And it aroused almost no press attention whatsoever,” Mr. Weinkopf said.

“In the video he released just before the election, Osama bin Laden was rather clear about which candidate he wanted to lead the free world. It sure wasn’t George W. Bush, whom he savaged personally and at great length. According to some experts, OBL even threatened red states with attacks should they back the president.

“But the establishment media that swooned over the warnings of Michael Moore, and celebrated Bruce Springsteen’s endorsement of Kerry, did its utmost to ignore these warnings and deny this endorsement by the world’s premier terrorist.”

Lack of confidence

Sen. John McCain said yesterday he has “no confidence” in Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing the secretary’s handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops.

Speaking to the Associated Press in an hourlong interview, the Arizona Republican said his comments were not a call for Mr. Rumsfeld’s resignation. Asked about his confidence in the secretary’s leadership, Mr. McCain recalled fielding a similar question a couple of weeks ago.

“I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence,” Mr. McCain said. “I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops — linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc. There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue.”

Mr. McCain is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has oversight of military operations and influence over the Pentagon budget.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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