- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Drawing the line

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial yesterday, urged the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature to overrule the Democratic-dominated state Supreme Court if the latter joins with other Democrats in an attempt to steal the presidency.

"The problem is, and it is a congenital one reaching far beyond Florida, is the squeamish GOP. It is not hard to imagine [Republican Secretary of State Katherine] Harris, under fire for being a Southern aristocrat rather than a New York sophisticate, buckling before a Florida Supreme Court ruling, rather than holding her ground to preserve the legislature's options.

"It is not hard to imagine the Florida legislature declining to exercise its Constitutional prerogatives. It is not hard to imagine an eventual U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the conservative justices defer to the principle of states rights and the liberal justices go with Gore," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"This is of course a way of saying that Republicans are constrained by principle while Democrats are not; that is, not any longer. Losing in the war of ideas since the Reagan era, Democrats have increasingly found refuge in unrestrained hardball.

"If a Robert Bork on the Supreme Court would spell generational change, smear and defeat him. If Newt Gingrich offers a revolution, tar him with ethics charges. If Kenneth Starr threatens to expose wrongdoing, smear him as the agent of a right-wing conspiracy. If George W. Bush threatens to win, expose 25-year-old wrongdoings and cut him up by saying he did not understand Social Security was a federal program which the Gore campaign surely knew was a patent lie."

The newspaper added: "If this republic is ever to get back to a politics of comity, these tactics have to be defeated. And if Mrs. Harris, the Florida legislature and conservative jurists do not draw the line at the theft of the presidency, where can it ever be drawn?"

Two worldviews

"If Bush had won the popular vote, but failed to prevail in the Electoral College after the mandated machine recount in Florida, he would not have fought the same battle Gore has," New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.

"Why? Because the Republican Party is the party of law, and the Bushies would have been hard-pressed to make the kind of anti-nomian case the Gore-ites are so comfortable making," Mr. Podhoretz said.

"Indeed, Republicans believe so strongly in the power and force of law that they spend most of their time arguing against new laws on the grounds that laws limit freedom in absolute ways and that there has to be a very good reason to impose such limits.

"The Democratic Party is the party of fairness. Laws are to be followed to the letter only if they are fair. If they're not, they are to be ignored or bent or blurred by judicial intervention.

"That's why Democrats have no problem passing new laws or arguing against the language of statutes that seem unfair to them. They consider law not an end in itself, but rather a framework for further discussion.

"Though we've been talking about the post-election fracas as a struggle between Democrats and Republicans, this really is a struggle between two worldviews the conservative worldview and the liberal worldview."

Mr. Podhoretz added: "The results of this [Florida Supreme Court] decision and the election's final outcome are going to usher in a period of protracted and pronounced philosophical division the likes of which we have not seen in many generations."

Canyon of distrust

"As the Florida Supreme Court mulls its decision about the propriety of including the hand counts, the political parties seem headed for mutually assured destruction," political pundit Laura Ingraham wrote in yesterday's USA Today.

"Deadlock. Gridlock. Law lock. The reason for all of the enmity goes far beyond the two candidates' distaste for losing. Election 2000 has become a duel to a political death because each side is terrified at the prospect of the other in power. Not just unhappy terrified," Miss Ingraham said.

"The Gore and Bush campaigns did their parts to fan the flames of fear in their parties. On Election Day, Democrats went into the polling booth thinking that a President Bush would roll back civil rights, women's rights and so on. Republicans were frightened that a President Gore would replace 'In God We Trust' with 'No Controlling Legal Authority.'

"This Grand Canyon of distrust separating Democrats and Republicans didn't form overnight. Its modern genesis was the Democratic defeat of Judge Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court. It got worse during the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, then widened even more during the string of Republican investigations of Bill Clinton that culminated in his impeachment. All of these events political equivalents of the O.J. trial deeply polarized the nation."

'Crank up the heat'

Craig Shirley, president of Craig Shirley and Associates, offers this advice to the Bush campaign and fellow Republicans:

"We need to get more people out there that are held in high esteem by the American people Elizabeth Dole, Bill Bennett to defend not only Bush but the Florida electoral system, and go after Gore for basically being a sore loser.

"Increase the partisanship, crank up the heat, and every notch up that they go, you go up two more notches. If you are going to be in the fight, then win the damn thing, or else don't be in the fight.

"PR affects everything, including how you are viewed, assuming you win this thing. Judges read newspapers and watch television just as much as anybody else does. Are they affected by public opinion? Sure.

"If you are winning the public relations battle with the American people, it is demoralizing to the opposition and energizing to your people, and tends to produce the result you want, which is for them to quit and go away."

Mr. Shirley's remarks were quoted in Legal Times.

Hillary vs. Conyers

Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, says her first act upon taking office will be to offer a constitutional amendment to do away with the Electoral College. But she may be surprised to find that one of her fiercest opponents will be Rep. John Conyers Jr., the liberal black Democrat from Michigan.

"The fact of the matter is it's clear that the minority vote has more clout within each state than it does in an aggregate fashion across the whole nation in a total vote tally," Mr. Conyers tells reporter John Berlau of Investor's Business Daily. "It gives them a little more opportunity to exert a strength that would affect the outcome."

Gopher's new goal

Former Rep. Fred Grandy, Iowa Republican, says he is taking his show on the road again.

Mr. Grandy, who used to play the character "Gopher" Smith on the TV series "The Love Boat," tells the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette that he is ready to get back into acting. Since exiting Congress at the end of 1993, Mr. Grandy has served as president of Goodwill Industries.

"I think I am still an actor. An actor believes your life is broken up into rehearsing a show, opening the show if it is a hit, closing if it is a flop, and rehearsing a new show."

He added: "I am looking for projects, adventures that kind of trip my trigger. I seriously doubt I will take just one job. I will look at teaching. I have rekindled my acting career. I can take various public-speaking positions. If you put it all together, it might be interesting."

Ballot bandits

World magazine, the Christian weekly edited by Marvin Olasky, who helped inspire George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism," has this headline on the cover of its Nov. 25 issue:

"Stick 'em up! This is a recount."

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