Thursday, November 15, 2001

Apart from the elite media and a small, bitter band of partisans, including Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Jesse Jackson, the vast majority of Americans put the controversial 2000 presidential election behind them on Jan. 20, 2001, when President Bush took the oath of office. Even former Vice President Al Gore had moved on eons ago. In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the American homeland, many of the Democratic partisans still nursing wounds finally put the election behind them. Indeed, one former top Gore lieutenant utterly impressed with Mr. Bush’s performance after September 11 even told Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, “I’m glad Bush is in there and Gore is not.”

But the elite media refused to give up the cause, and seemed determined to prove that Mr. Bush stole the 2000 election from Mr. Gore. Now come the results of a massive media study of the Florida vote, a study underwritten to the tune of nearly $1 million by the New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and several other news organizations. It examined more than 175,000 disputed votes. These included about 61,000 so-called “undervotes” (ballots that were initially rejected for registering no presidential vote) and about 114,000 “overvotes” ballots that were rejected for registering either two votes for a single candidate or votes for two or more candidates.

Contrary to the presumed hopes of the elite media and the expectations of Mr. Gore’s campaign, the study concluded that Mr. Gore still would have lost the election even if the Florida recount were conducted according to the parameters sought by his legion of lawyers. Fearing the results of any recount that would have included “overvotes” because most of them were cast in counties that Mr. Gore had lost, the Gore campaign based its legal strategy on forcing recounts of “undervotes” only. If such a recount were limited to four heavily Democratic counties where Democratic officials would have dominated the process, which the Gore camp attempted to force, Mr. Bush still would have won. If the recount were conducted in accordance with the instructions of the Florida Supreme Court, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, Mr. Bush’s margin of victory would still have exceeded 400 votes.

The U.S. Supreme Court was therefore right to halt the Florida Supreme Court’s haphazard, multi-standard recount order that clearly violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws. And it also now appears that the elite media’s study has effectively vindicated the U.S. high court’s decision to do so. Perhaps now, even the likes of Messrs. McAuliffe and Jackson can finally move on, joining the rest of the nation.

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