- The Washington Times - Friday, December 1, 2000

Out of touch

In all three interviews with TV network anchormen Wednesday night, Al Gore displayed a complete lack of understanding on how supermarket scanners or computers, for that matter really work.

None of the network anchors picked up on Mr. Gore's misstatements, the Media Research Center reports.

Asked by CBS' Dan Rather about how "George Bush's argument is that those votes have gone through a machine at least once, and many of them have gone through twice, and it's his argument that they have been counted," Mr. Gore replied: "They haven't been counted. It's just like the supermarket checkout line where that scanner misses some of the items and the clerk has to go back and write it in by hand. They look at it, see what it says and write it in. We trust the people to make up for the mistakes in the machines."

Twice during his answer Mr. Gore used his hands to mimic handwriting something as he put the fingers of one hand together, as if holding a pen, and wiggled them above the open palm on his other hand.

In response to a similar inquiry from NBC's Tom Brokaw, Mr. Gore outlined the same supermarket analogy and, as he mimicked handwriting, asserted that when the scanner does not pick up on an item you don't get it for free as "they write down the amount by hand. And that's because computers make mistakes."

The Media Research Center's Brent Baker commented: "Of course, as anyone who has been in a grocery store in the last 15 or so years knows, grocery scanners work off bar codes and so when one is not read the cashier enters the actual bar code number sequence. But not by hand. They use the keypad which comes with computer terminals."

Democrats made great sport of a similar flub by President Bush when, during a trip to a grocery store, he expressed admiration for a bar-code scanner.

The party of "the people, not the powerful" cried that this proved how out of touch was Mr. Bush, the prep school son of a U.S. senator, just like Mr. Gore.

For example, the documentary "The War Room" showed lead Clinton-Gore cheerleader James Carville exhorting volunteers and aides in the 1992 campaign into a frenzy of righteousness, telling them over and over that if Mr. Bush won, "You're gonna get a guy that doesn't know what a grocery store scanner is, and everything else."

Tired of Al

"Television gave Al Gore a second shot at winning the election and it can just as easily take it away from him especially if he insists on facing the cameras all the time," New York Post columnist Adam Buckman writes.

"His last two appearances on TV from the front lawn of his official residence, Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon, were so off-putting they must have played a key role in turning the tide of public opinion against his cause, at least according to the polls.

"I can't tell you how many people have told me they can no longer stand to hear Al Gore defend his fight for a vote count," Mr. Buckman said.

"And that includes people who voted for him because of how impressed they were with how he comported himself on TV in the debates and other public venues in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

"These days, though, they've grown sick of hearing him talk about upholding 'the will of the people' and preserving democracy as if he's the only one who cares about these things."

The columnist added: "Maybe someone should mention to his handlers that few people nowadays buy the kind of sanctimonious bunkum he's peddling on the tube."

The chad revolt

"You have finally made a big mistake," radio talk show host Dennis Prager says in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal addressed to Democrats.

"You probably never thought you would live to see middle America and mainstream Republicans galvanized to resist your ongoing takeover of America. But like other power-hungry groups in history, you didn't know when to hold back. Your party and its standard bearer, Al Gore, have attempted to thwart an election not in the quiet of the night (as in 1960) but in daylight, before the cameras of the world. And finally we have begun to resist," Mr. Prager said.

"Most of us have never attended a political demonstration. Most of us are not particularly political, preferring work, family, sports, and communal associations to political activism. But now we are angry. By golly, even Bob Dole is angry. Republicans are actually organizing demonstrations. Such activism is so rare that 'conservative activist' is an oxymoron. But for the time being you have changed that. Call it the Chad revolt.

"In fact, it is thanks to your changing ballot-counting rules, your emphasis on hand counts in only those Florida districts you dominate, your invalidation of military ballots, your sending of Jesse Jackson to rouse race-based anger and of Alan Dershowitz to smear Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, that many of us have decided, finally, to fight back."

Gangster confederacy

Democratic pollster Pat Caddell, who once plied his trade for Jimmy Carter, says his party has betrayed its heritage.

"I'm a liberal Democrat. I started in Florida politics. I've worked for George McGovern. I worked for Jimmy Carter. I've worked for Teddy Kennedy, Mario Cuomo. Nobody can question, I think, my credentials and convictions," Mr. Caddell said Monday on MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews."

"But I have to tell you, at this point it's hard to believe that my party, the party that I've belonged to since my great-great-grandfather of my family, has become no longer a party of principles, but has been hijacked by a confederacy of gangsters who need to take power by whatever means and whatever canards they can say."

Read my eyelids

"Peter Jennings says he wasn't grimacing after George W. Bush's speech last Sunday night and that he's not biased against Bush," the New York Post's Don Kaplan reports.

"And Jennings also says that viewers shouldn't read too much into his facial expressions in which he continually fluttered his eyelids and closed his eyes entirely while assessing Bush's speech," Mr. Kaplan writes.

"Some viewers who watched Jennings' coverage of Bush's speech charged in e-mails to the ABC anchor that he appeared to grimace after Bush appeared on national TV to give his 'acceptance speech' after being certified the winner of Florida.

" 'There were a lot of e-mail messages that suggested the look on my face after Bush spoke last night was disapproving even biased,' Jennings wrote in his daily e-mail message on Monday."

Mr. Jennings added: "Actually, I was struck by the fact that it was a very serious moment and we treated it accordingly."

Limited influence

"If this year's presidential election proved anything it is that the earlier talk about the political importance of governors was overblown," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes.

Mr. Rothenberg noted that Republican Govs. John Engler of Michigan, Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, Tommy G. Thompson of Wisconsin, Gary E. Johnson of New Mexico, George Ryan of Illinois, Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, George E. Pataki of New York, John G. Rowland of Connecticut and Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts were unable to deliver their states for George W. Bush. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may or may not be an exception.

"Governors, even those with high job approval and personal ratings, simply can't 'deliver' their states any more than any politician can 'deliver' his or her supporters to another candidate. Voters see enough of the White House contenders to evaluate them and to make up their own minds about who they will vote for," Mr. Rothenberg said.

"Governors, of course, can influence some races, but their clout is usually limited to primaries or low-visibility contests where the voters know relatively little about the candidates."

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