- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2000

One of the more Dada-esque elements of this post-election limbo is the spectacle of Gore campaign chairman William Daley delivering lectures to the nation on election ethics. Mr. Daley, of course, is the youngest son of Chicago's former Mayor Richard J. Daley, the infamous political boss of the Cook County Democratic machine, who is best remembered for the political crime of the century stealing Illinois for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election against Richard M. Nixon.
Nixon's decision, equally patriotic and politically savvy, to concede defeat to Kennedy has been duly weighed as Americans seek instruction, even comfort, in the past. In the same context, the deep historical irony of Mr. Daley's political heredity has been widely observed. In the rush of events, however, it seems to have registered only as the merest scrap chad? of political trivia. The question is whether Mr. Daley and the tradition he was born to are really so insignificant as the nation teeters on the clawing chaos that is now Florida.
The most significant difference could be that where Daley the Elder was primarily nocturnal, padding Cook County returns in the dark of election night, Daley the Younger prefers to work his brand of electoral finesse in broad daylight, after the fact. This time around, the Democrats don't seem to be relying on such cloak-and-daggerish devices as the "cemetery vote" or old-time ballot stuffing, exemplified by the Chicago voting machine that Nixon once noted as having recorded 121 votes for 43 voters. Instead, the 21st-century political heist necessitates the projection of chaos, "disenfranchisement" and political illegitimacy. This volatile mix is put to use to manufacture the case for the outrageously subjective and easily manipulated practice of hand-counting ballots in four Democratic counties.
The Gore campaign has made it clear that it wants to win more than it wants to be fair. For example, when asked on Saturday about deadlines Republicans have missed to demand hand-counts in GOP strongholds, Mr. Daley replied, "Fine. Everybody had a chance. The law is the law." Is Mr. Daley troubled by the fact that hand-counts involve the, at best, iffy art of discerning voter intent, opening the process to manipulation? "Under Florida law this is allowed," he replied. What about the free interpretation of sketchy ballot marks? "I think they base that upon evidence that's there. They don't just make that up."
Comforting thought. Meanwhile, there may be something to be said for William Daley's blackjack approach to law and politics: no fancy subterfuge here. He plays to win at any cost. What's important to remember, of course, is that so does his boss.

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