NYTimes: "How Bush Took Florida: Mining the Overseas Absentee Vote"
July 14, 2001 9:44 PM   Subscribe

NYTimes: "How Bush Took Florida: Mining the Overseas Absentee Vote" "Their goal was simple: to count the maximum number of overseas ballots in counties won by Mr. Bush, particularly those with a high concentration of military voters, while seeking to disqualify overseas ballots in counties won by Vice President Al Gore.

A six-month investigation by The New York Times of this chapter in the closest presidential election in American history shows that the Republican effort had a decided impact. Under intense pressure from the Republicans, Florida officials accepted hundreds of overseas absentee ballots that failed to comply with state election laws. "
posted by owillis (71 comments total)

 
Yeah, it's me again. No, I won't "get over it".
posted by owillis at 9:57 PM on July 14, 2001


Buried 3/4 down in the article:

The Times study found no evidence of vote fraud by either party. In particular, while some voters admitted in interviews that they had cast illegal ballots after Election Day, the investigation found no support for the suspicions of Democrats that the Bush campaign had organized an effort to solicit late votes.

Rather, the Republicans poured their energy into the speedy delivery and liberal treatment of likely Bush ballots from abroad.


Maybe it's just because I'm in law school right now, but in an election as important and as close as this one, aggressive legal tactics like these seem perfectly acceptable.
posted by gd779 at 9:57 PM on July 14, 2001


I've heard law school will do that to you. :)

I must admit though, I'm almost as upset that Gore & Co. were not as "down and dirty" as the Republicans were as I am at Bush. PR, the media and sentiment were sadly running in Shrub's favor at the time though.

It's a modern failing I see in "traditional" liberals who believe good will triumph in the end, versus Clintonian Democrats (like myself) who see fit to roll in the pig slop with the opposition to get the job done. Where's Carville when ya need him?
posted by owillis at 10:20 PM on July 14, 2001


I don't know what bugs me more: the fact that Bush & his Supreme Ct. allies overturned a democratic election or how most Americans don't seem to care!

In either case, sad day for democracy, and sad day for America! I think the US has lost ALL moral ground as spokespersons for democratic ideals all over the world.

And owillis, I also "won't get over it."
posted by Rastafari at 10:52 PM on July 14, 2001


jpoulos = not over it either

The thing is, in this day and age, there's no sense in taking the moral high ground when it comes to shit like this, because (a) it will lose you elections like this one, and (b) the average American doesn't care anyway. Now, I don't suggest for a second that the Dems didn't try some of the same tactics in Florida that the Bushes did, but they didn't get down'n'dirty (as owillis said) to the same extent. (If they had, they would have won especially when you consider that, at least IMO, more Floridians went to the polls that day to vote for Gore.)

Where were the hordes of Democratic protestors pushing election officials around, like the Bushes had?
posted by jpoulos at 11:13 PM on July 14, 2001


The American people have not forgotten! The media largely is not covering it as an important issue if at all--no one wants to be caught with their pants down. The media is so beholden to advertising that any coverage objectively stating that the election was a statistical (at least electorally) draw would raise such ignorant cain, that it would make the right's no holds barred propaganda attack on the "liberal" media (don't wanna go there) in the era of Newt and Rush pale in comparison. Though the NYTimes is obviously a corporate media juggernaut itself, the rest have, from a business standpoint, safely let stories like this sink into obscurity.
posted by crasspastor at 11:26 PM on July 14, 2001


It's a modern failing I see in "traditional" liberals who believe good will triumph in the end, versus Clintonian Democrats (like myself) who see fit to roll in the pig slop with the opposition to get the job done.

Living in Canada, I can't claim to know precisely what you mean by "liberal," but... what's the point of doing it if you're not going to do it right? I do tend to swing left in my political views, but I would like to think that any stance I take will be true and have no need to roll in any sort of slop. "Triumph" is not important; having an honest voice in an equal democracy is.

Oh, and don't bother calling me naive, as I've already accepted myself as such. (And, yes, this affects us, too.)
posted by transient at 11:29 PM on July 14, 2001


Seeing as how neither this study nor any other conducted since the election demonstrating suspicious behavior, foulplay, and the like is actually going to change who our president is and will be for the next 3.5 years (though I sure wish they would), I have to ask: what's the point?

As has already been pointed out here, Americans just don't seem to care. And if Americans don't care, I don't see how any of these studies is really going to accomplish anything such as structural reforms in our election process.

I'm not going to ask everyone to get over it, since if you're not over it by now you're not going to get over it. Which is fine by me, since in all honesty it probably shouldn't be gotten over. Instead, I ask that any upset by these kind of reports actually DO something. Write a letter to your newspaper, your Congresspeople, your President, your state election board, your county canvassing board, whatever. I don't care if you're upset about this stuff, but they should.
posted by drywall at 11:31 PM on July 14, 2001


To call what happened "overturning a democratic election" seems to me to be going a bit far. Like others, I am becoming more convinced that some inappropriate (possibly even illegal) things were done on behalf of Bush. However, the only reason this had such an effect on the election is that the real, popular vote was so closely split between Bush and Gore as to make all the little errors and corruptions that go on in any election become far more important than they would normally be. If it's right to say that Bush stole the election, then it would have been just as right to say the same of Gore had he managed to take office. In truth, the vote was too close to call without being plagued by controversy; the controversy was fought out in the courts, and the courts made their decision in an arbitrary and partisan way, but it was no less true to the will of the people than any other decision would have been.
posted by moss at 11:38 PM on July 14, 2001


> Yeah, it's me again. No, I won't "get over it".

I like this guy. Principled. Persistent. He doesn't stop talking about what's right just because those with shorter attention spans have moved on to lesser subjects. Smart people will still be talking about this election in a hundred years.
posted by pracowity at 12:54 AM on July 15, 2001


If owillis is discussing this in a hundred years he’d be smart + immortal.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:10 AM on July 15, 2001


moss writes:
[...]and the courts made their decision in an arbitrary and partisan way, but it was no less true to the will of the people than any other decision would have been.


It's fascinating to watch a country storyboarding its own eventual nightmare.
posted by Opus Dark at 1:12 AM on July 15, 2001


> If owillis is discussing this in a hundred years
> he’d be smart + immortal.

Not necessarily immortal; just very old.

And of course I didn't mean that Oliver himself will still be talking about it, but he might be. If living 75 years is common with today's medicine, it may not be so very strange if Oliver lives another 100 years, assuming he gets through the next 50 or so in reasonable health.
posted by pracowity at 1:45 AM on July 15, 2001


The deciding number of votes was within the margin of error. Once that happens, all sorts of weird things become possible (e.g. one recount concluded that Gore won if you used the Bush campaign's counting method but lost by their own).

This wasn't a stolen election in the normal sense of the term - it never would have happened had either party run a decent candidate. Between Bush's stupidity and Gore's ethics problems and both candidates' general blandness, it's not surprising that so many voters effectively held their collective noses and voted for the candidate they considered slightly less objectionable. If either McCain or Bradley had made it out of the primaries, we could have avoided this circus.

(Note: people who are still griping that Bush lost the popular vote need to be beaten upside the head with a copy of the constitution)
posted by adamsc at 1:46 AM on July 15, 2001


It's these damn republicans....money-grubbing,screw the poor, anti-freedom, send the rich to heaven, Pat Robertson-supporting, tithe-giving, denial of homosexuality, minority hating(unless they make over 50 grand a year of course), faith-based, Reagan loving(for god knows why), Klan members who are bent on a non-existent arms race who are fucking this country raw.

Not only that, but they are breaking it off.
posted by ttrendel at 2:15 AM on July 15, 2001


Tha was a troll... I waited 10 minutes, but since no Bush-sponsored swat teams rapelled off of my roof and stormed the building, I figured it was safe to post.
posted by ttrendel at 2:17 AM on July 15, 2001


The flawed votes included ballots without postmarks, ballots postmarked after the election, ballots without witness signatures, ballots mailed from towns and cities within the United States and even ballots from voters who voted twice

I'm sorry but that's electoral fraud.

If it is true then the NY Times should be wandering down to the local police station with their evidence. If it's not true then they should shut up.

The time for moaning about the election result is coming to a close, get the evidence and press charges. The media war is what people don't care about, they care about electoral fraud.

But fighting through the media means the Democrats get to bitch and moan (hey, I'm doing it now) and the politicians get to keep their jobs. No change, no controversy, no rocking the boat.

Will anything happen? Will it bollocks. The Democrats don't want to go to court any more than the Republicans do.
posted by fullerine at 3:02 AM on July 15, 2001


> If it is true then the NY Times should be wandering
> down to the local police station with their evidence.
> If it's not true then they should shut up.

A paper should never shut up. A paper should report. In reporting, it does more than just quietly send an editor down to the police station to make a statement.

If what the paper alleges is false, someone's lawyers will be visiting it the next day and it will soon be forced to retract its allegations, endure embarrassment, and probably pay large sums to people it falsely accused of impropriety.

If what it alleges is true, regardless of whether the evidence is used in court and regardless of whether it is too late to right wrongs, the public will know the truth.

Why so annoyed? If you prefer baseball scores, you're reading the wrong section.
posted by pracowity at 3:43 AM on July 15, 2001


> If it is true then the NY Times should be wandering
> down to the local police station with their evidence.
> If it's not true then they should shut up.

It's the NY times, hardly a non-partisan group.
posted by revbrian at 4:27 AM on July 15, 2001


The GOp manipulated the ovrseas vores and took them illegally , knowing they were (as military are) pro-GOP; further, in another article, there is now the record of some last minute 95 calls to Rove, Bush in Texas etc whioch, when Jeb was asked about it (the votes at that point 300 apart) said I can't recall what the calls were about. As for law school: there is an overwhelming support among law school professors that the Surpre Counrt acted in a manner not consistent with the law (have seen the signed petition/statement).
Most people prefer to accept a stable if stolen govt than the chaos that otherwise might result, but ther is now a very dim light cast upon the democratic process.
posted by Postroad at 4:58 AM on July 15, 2001


It's the NY times, hardly a non-partisan group.

Ahem. If it were The Nation, I'd concede the point, but to believe that the "liberal media" squawk applies every single bloody time is just a little bit knee-jerk.

Most people prefer to accept a stable if stolen govt than the chaos that otherwise might result, but there is now a very dim light cast upon the democratic process.

Anyone checked Washington's grave for signs of disturbed earth, or at least subterranean oscillations?
posted by holgate at 5:13 AM on July 15, 2001


> Anyone checked Washington's grave for signs of
> disturbed earth, or at least subterranean oscillations?

I just checked. The grave's empty. There's a painful howling sound coming from the direction of the White House.
posted by pracowity at 5:51 AM on July 15, 2001


From the story:

In a Tallahassee "war room" within the offices of Ms. Harris, veteran Republican political consultants helped shape the post-election instructions to county canvassing boards.

After the election, the Florida Secretary of State let Republican strategists set up shop in her office, crafting the vote-counting instructions for county boards in her place.

A question for the Republican true believers out there: Why should anyone have confidence in the fairness of this process?

1,285 days and counting [self-link].
posted by rcade at 5:57 AM on July 15, 2001


Holgate: whny would anyone check DC to see if if there is a howling. We are talking about a national election and not the site of those who "won" If you think Americans have forgotten by now what took place, read this interview:
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/3750/askpolitex.htm
posted by Postroad at 6:03 AM on July 15, 2001


It's probably naive, but I find myself disgusted that something as fundamental as the electoral process can be so effortlessly manipulated. This is something I expect in Bolivia, not in Miami. Even more distasteful is the hubris shown by a partisan Supreme Court in their assumption that the American people will stand by like sheep while the entire electoral process is subverted. This nitwit in the Oval Office is not my biggest concern. What I do find frightening is that the highest court in the land, in order to preserve a conservative majority, blatantly ignored due process and selected a President.

This does not bode well for Roe v. Wade, the Bill of Rights, or civil liberties in general. This little triumvirate of the black robed secret society called the Supreme Court, big business (Cheney is one scary ass dude), and a complacent populace cannot be a good thing.

Maybe somebody can answer this question. How do you fire a Supreme Court justice. Presidents lose elections or have their power erode with a stain on a dress, members of Congress are dependent upon a fickle electorate for job security...but how the hell do you get rid of Supreme Court justices?
posted by cedar at 7:37 AM on July 15, 2001


I find myself disgusted that something as fundamental as the electoral process can be so effortlessly manipulated.

On the contrary, I'm certain there was a lot of effort involved.

how the hell do you get rid of Supreme Court justices?

The only sure way to "get rid of" a Supreme Court justice is -- well, you figure it out; I'm not going to have the Secret Service knocking at my door. Justices are appointed for life. You could try convincing them they should step down for the good of the country, but you might have some difficulty with that line of argument.
posted by kindall at 7:52 AM on July 15, 2001


for Revbrian: the Times has some left-leaning writers (editorial page) from time to time, but to call their three-page study non-objective should compel you to show where they are incorrect. In fact, it was the Times that quickly went along with "the winning candidate" and suggested it was time to move on. Now they are exploring what had taken place. If you can show me where their lengthy and full study is in error or prejudiced, I would be delighted to revise my view of this considered piece. He who assewrets (or implies) must prove--old principle in logic and in law. You asseret; now prove.
posted by Postroad at 7:56 AM on July 15, 2001


I'm gonna live 100 years? Sweet! Note to self: invest in bionics industry.

It's the NY times, hardly a non-partisan group.

The New York Times is the most respected newspaper in this country, and while even I do not like the influence they wield - it does not change the facts. (I'm supposing you'd prefer for the Republican Propaganda Office, er... I mean the Fox News Channel covered this?)

Let me be clear: If George W. Bush had truthfully won this election (as I believed he had when I went to bed election night) I would have been upset, but recognized that he won fair and square. I would still raise objection to his stance on issues, etc. but I would do that knowing he was really the president.

As things stand now he is a fraud and he is illegitimate. I don't expect anything to be done about this legally but if I can get one person to think critically about what happened I may have accomplished something. "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it", etc, etc.

Not to mention helps lay the groundwork for my 2012 campaign - vote Willis! :)
posted by owillis at 8:36 AM on July 15, 2001


I'm not convinced that the source of the report is relevant. Despite opinions about the editorial leanings of the NY Times, I have confidence in the fact and source checking that would go into a report of this scoop. They should be applauded for the thouroughness and distinct *lack* of editorialization in the story.

The early White House response does nothing to lessen my regard for the story...this business of, "the election is over, now you get over it" does not inspire confidence. At the risk of hyberbole, this is an issue that strikes at the very root of our Republic.

Their total (so far) lack of a coherent refutation the facts as outlined in the article (surely they have seen an advance copy) continues to show their utter lack of regard for the voters. Like it or not, the NY Times is the most influential newspaper in the world and it is inconcievable that the Republican administration pays so little heed to such a through indictment of the process that elected a President.
posted by cedar at 9:01 AM on July 15, 2001


Why so annoyed? If you prefer baseball scores, you're reading the wrong section.

Cricket Scores actually, but hey

Anyway, the reason I am annoyed is that there doesn't seem to be a concerted effort to find out what happened (except by the media)

I just feel this is too important to simply be another front page story. I am not saying the NY Times et al should stop reporting, I am saying that they should start to do something about the evidence that they have uncovered.

If they are correct, then the most powerful man on Earth cheated his way into that position. If I was at the NY Times I'd be screaming this to high heaven. This is the biggest scandal of the past decade and yet they seem to not want to run with it

Maybe I'm just too cynical.
posted by fullerine at 9:31 AM on July 15, 2001


cedar, supreme court justices can be impeached by congress.
posted by muta at 10:12 AM on July 15, 2001


Possible solution for future elections: let's institute a run-off style system, where a candidate must win 2/3 of all (electoral) votes cast. Until a party can field a candidate that garners such support, we maintain with the current Chief Executive. If no candidate earns 2/3 of the electoral vote by the time January 20th rolls around, have the Speaker of The House serve as the Pro-Tem prez.

Just a thought.
posted by davidmsc at 10:14 AM on July 15, 2001


davidmsc: Which means we end up with George W. Bush, President For Life? Aaaaiieeee!!!! Will he start wearing sunglasses all the time? Start getting smackered again since it wouldn't have an effect on his staying around? Anyway, a runoff would be OK. A clear majority or more would have to be won. But guess how much talk we've had about changing the system at all since the 2000 elections? None, except at the state and local level.
posted by raysmj at 10:59 AM on July 15, 2001


Now, I don't suggest for a second that the Dems didn't try some of the same tactics in Florida that the Bushes did

Regarding the lack of "down-n-dirty" from the Gore camp...

I think you guys are forgetting what the media coverage was like from Day 1. (Morning of November 8th: Lieberman planes flies down to Florida; Jeb Bush's helicopter touches down minutes later to welcome us to Bush country.) The Bushies were immediately spinning like they had already won the election, so the Gores should just back the fuck off -- and the American public was buying it.

We were fighting an uphill battle the whole way, and if we had used any unethical tactics, and we would have been spun as having "stolen" the election. We were given explicit instructions to conduct ourselves in the most ethical, apolitical manner as possible. And I'm proud to say that I know I did.
posted by jennak at 10:59 AM on July 15, 2001


Wow, what a powerful report. If you haven't read the entire (8 page) article, I highly suggest you read the last page, which details the Bush team's push to have rejected military absentee ballots looked at a second time.

I personally believe, as the Florida Supreme Court stated, that "the electorate's effecting its will through its balloting, not the hypertechnical compliance with statutes, is the object of holding an election." But it's obvious to me that agents of the Bush campaign encouraged nonsensical and inconsistent standards toward the counting of ballots that they knew would be in their favor.

This may've been legal (although as the article says, "not a single judge agreed with the Bush campaign's argument that Florida's postmarking requirements were invalid"), but it was certainly unethical.
posted by muta at 11:25 AM on July 15, 2001


See also. So, The White House dismisses this report as whining and says the only the most partisan of citizens still care about how the election was won (meaning that it was a sham and a Republican white wash, accent on white). This sounds more like something I heard in high school following the student body elections as mouthed by a school official who knows that the election really doesn't mean anything anyway.

The U.S. Presidential election is not, or should not be, a farce which is what, I think, it has become. I am not a Republican (big surprise) but if I were I'd be pissed that by the time most primaries rolled around there was only one candidate to "choose" from. And he's an idiot lacking even basic English language skills. This is a President who cancelled all press conferences he would be involved in so he doesn't have to answer any questions from the press and be "put on the spot" so he'd have to actually use his mouth for something other than simplistic, meaningless platitudes.

Can I sue the President for this? Or the Republican party? Or the Supreme Court? If it is true that no one is above the law, and if the Democratic party doesn't wish to bring these issues into the courtrooms to test exactly what happened, and who did it, then where does that leave us? This is not an issue of us versus them, Dems versus Reps, this is about a fundamental right in a supposedly free country "where every vote counts." If this is all true, and votes were negated, others allowed that shouldn;t have been, and everyone knows about it - what happens next time? And if I were the Democratic Party watching this, why wouldn't I sell my soul and do the exact same thing if the country and the courts allows it to happen?

Where, exactly, am I living?
posted by honkzilla at 11:36 AM on July 15, 2001


jennak wrote:
"I think you guys are forgetting what the media coverage was like from Day 1. (Morning of November 8th: Lieberman planes flies down to Florida; Jeb Bush's helicopter touches down minutes later to welcome us to Bush country.) "

How true this is, the power of media spin is incredible. I went to bed dejected picturing four years of the Shrub, was elated when I was awoken in the morning to a newfound Gore victory...and was checking the date on my passport by noon.

The early reports set the stage for a Bush victory and the Republican machine jumped on that with a vengeance. I respect the ethics of the Gore campaign in taking the high road, but I have little doubt that more aggressive legal tactics early on may have changed the result.

I take less satisfaction in an 'ethical' victory than I would in an environmentally and socially conscientious administration.
posted by cedar at 11:45 AM on July 15, 2001


cedar: "I think you guys are forgetting what the media coverage was like." how true that is

always remember: he who frames the debate, wins the debate.

my favorite quote from the article: "Inside Ms. Harris's war room, aides debated whether to grant an extension. Ms. Harris refused to budge. 'Katherine's job,' said Mr. Stipanovich, the Republican consultant advising Ms. Harris, 'was to bring this election in for a landing.'"

interesting look at political "hardball". I agree: this wasn't "effortless" by any stretch of the imagination.

don't be so quick to paint the NYT as "liberal". if you recall, they pretty much single-handedly created the whitewater scandal; some folks believe, invented it. (note that this article is a pretty sweeping indictment of the NYT in general.)

in any case, what is most interesting to me about this article is that a major corporate news publication is publicly questioning the legitimacy of the President of the United States.

think about that for a moment.
posted by rebeccablood at 1:01 PM on July 15, 2001


"supreme court justices can be impeached by congress"

Technically possible, but highly improbable. To my knowledge this has NEVER happened, even though there has been an attempt or two. Modern Supreme Court is shaping up to be the most powerful branch of government. (Which you probably have no problem with if you agree with their decisions, and think is unconscionable if you don't. I loved the Warren Court, even though, like the current Court, their decisions...shall we say "pushed the envelope"...of constitutional credibility.)

The Supremes have always...that's ALWAYS...been a political, policy making body. It's just that every once in a while they do something - Dredd Scott, Roe v. Wade, Bush v. Gore - that brings the fact to the foreground.
posted by edlark at 1:31 PM on July 15, 2001


Modern Supreme Court is shaping up to be the most powerful branch of government. (Which you probably have no problem with if you agree with their decisions, and think is unconscionable if you don't.

This is something I've never grasped. I get the checks and balances thing, but in practice it doesn't seem to work that way. If the executive and legislative branches are sworn to uphold the Constitution, and the Supreme Court *interprets* the Constitution, where is the check on the Supreme Court?

As the court of last resort I would like to see a few less split decisions. Is the Constitution so badly drawn that nine people can't manage to agree on what it means?

Interesting related story in todays NY Times.
posted by cedar at 1:40 PM on July 15, 2001


cedar: In theory, the states. That's a very good question. Try reading the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. These were written largely in reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were supposed to keep those who wanted the U.S. to be taken over by France under Napoleon under control and out of the country, but ended up harming those who just didn't agree with the Federalists. There was a Federalist Congress, a Federalist president (Adams) and Federalist judges who upheld the laws. The idea with the states is that they could "nullify" unconstitutional laws if no branch of the federal government would do the right thing. Neither Adams nor Madison ever said how this could be done, however, or rather exactly how many states would be needed for nullification.

The resolutions were interpreted quite broadly by some and twisted around to the point that John C. Calhoun thought South Carolina could just refuse to accept a tariff law against cotton. Again, making a long story short, but what such broad interpretations helped lead to the Civil War. People have in years since brought up the idea of a court of the states, but groups states could of course ignore the court's opinions, and what if they conflict with those of the Supreme Court?

In other words, this is a major Constitutional flaw that, thankfully, has really never come up in recent decades. This is my understanding, but I wouldn't mind hearing from some history students or *serious* history buffs.
posted by raysmj at 1:58 PM on July 15, 2001


[W]here is the check on the Supreme Court? Its members are appointed by the president, and confirmed by the Senate. Now, I have a question. I heard that this story appeared in print Sunday, but I saw it on nytimes.com at 9 a.m. (PST) all day Saturday... What exactly is the NYT's policy regrding updates to the website?
posted by rschram at 2:01 PM on July 15, 2001


don't most sunday papers come out on saturday?
posted by rebeccablood at 2:07 PM on July 15, 2001


Most of the Sunday NY Times, at least in terms of features, appears on the site on Saturday. And within New York, the Saturday edition contains many of the sections associated with the Sunday edition outside of the city.
posted by holgate at 2:18 PM on July 15, 2001


rschram: There's that check on it, yes. But it's very much a long-haul check, not an immediate or even moderate check. The other checks are moving jurisdiction (which Congress has done once in its history), impeachment of federal judges, funding of the court and the federal judiciary, etc. The Supreme Court also has no enforcement power, and depends upon its reputation and authority for such instead. If one party or ideological group controls the other two branches or even Congress, however, there is no significant short-term or moderate check on the court, whose members are unelected and serve for life terms with good behavior.

Otherwise, given the elite character of the institution, it would seem to me that unanimous or near-unanimous decisions on controversial issues would be best. But it didn't surprise me that the current court couldn't even get a complete majority, but a concurrent one. Ego city, with no real leadership coming from Rehnquist.
posted by raysmj at 2:29 PM on July 15, 2001


<aside>The Boston Globe has a Sunday edition that actually shows up on your doorstep Saturday morning. Or at least it used to. I'm not sure they still publish it.</aside>
posted by jpoulos at 2:40 PM on July 15, 2001


rschram: There's that check on it, yes. But it's very much a long-haul check, not an immediate or even moderate check. Well, besides the value of checking, there's at least equal if not greater value for the last word. You're describing a situation where there would not be a last word.
posted by rschram at 3:48 PM on July 15, 2001


Frankly, this entire debate is a waste of time. No one's opinion will be changed. Gore/Nader supporters will never accept the legitimacy of Bush, which is exactly what Gore wanted in the first place. And Bush supporters certainly aren't going to change their minds, either.

But feel free to continue if you want.

Oh, and you can get the Boston Sunday papers (and the NYT) in New England on Saturday afternoon if you're willing to buy it without the news section. The non-news part of the paper is delivered well in advance of the news section.
posted by ljromanoff at 4:01 PM on July 15, 2001


Frankly, this entire debate is a waste of time. No one's opinion will be changed.

Perhaps the debate isn't, but the research is, in its attempt to separate the facts (or a semblance thereof) from the hurricane of spin. After all, this is going to be taught in history and politics classes for decades to come, and it's the opinions of those generations that are at stake.

After all, the outcome of the Second World War is pretty well-established (to a certain extent; if you take the Chinese view of history, it's possibly too early to tell) but there's no statute of limitations on historical research of what actually took place. And a good thing too.
posted by holgate at 4:23 PM on July 15, 2001


rschram: There *is* a value for a last word, but how much of a value there is in 3-2-4 decisions in a case involving a presidential election or any mega-controversial case is hard to say. It bodes ill for the future of the federal courts, in my mind. Brown v. Board, the only comparably controversial case (Roe wasn't immediately controversial), was a 9-0 decision and handled with deft political skill, even if it took the Civil Rights Act to finally enforce the ruling everywhere. Even Roe was 7-2. With the election case, you're talking about issues at the heart of what a democratic society is all about. A 3-2-4 decision handed down by the least democratic branch of the U.S. government was pretty lame in such a case.
posted by raysmj at 4:27 PM on July 15, 2001


Perhaps the debate isn't, but the research is, in its attempt to separate the facts (or a semblance thereof) from the hurricane of spin. After all, this is going to be taught in history and politics classes for decades to come, and it's the opinions of those generations that are at stake.

I'm in complete agreement with you there, but if "a hurricane of spin" isn't an accurate definition of the MetaFilter comments section than I don't know what is.
posted by ljromanoff at 4:55 PM on July 15, 2001


rschram: Just for the record, I'm talking about controversial decisions of the modern era only. Constitutional issues have been decided with much more regularity since World War II. As for the rest . . . well, Marbury v. Madison was a unanimous decision, just for starters.
posted by raysmj at 4:58 PM on July 15, 2001


partisans on mefi??? say it ain't so!

;)
posted by rebeccablood at 5:25 PM on July 15, 2001


Frankly, this entire debate is a waste of time. No one's opinion will be changed. Gore/Nader supporters will never accept the legitimacy of Bush, which is exactly what Gore wanted in the first place. And Bush supporters certainly aren't going to change their minds, either.

I disagree. Making it this far through such a thread implies an interest and a willingness to consider other views. The dialogue in itself is valuable.

I wouldn't put Gore and Nader supporters in the same camp. The campaigns were run very differently and appealed to different constituencys. The 'viable' three party system remains a fantasy; it is self deluding to consider Nader a part of the equation. It would be a great thing, but it ain't here.

Regardless of my personal politics, I do believe that it is the process that matters. When that process is subverted (regardless of which bunch of wealthy white boys it benefits) we all suffer.

Well, at least, all of us in the US of A.
posted by cedar at 5:30 PM on July 15, 2001


this entire debate is a waste of time

Perhaps, although healthy debate is always of value if you actually believe that democracy is a viable way of running things. (And no, I don't think there are any better ways...)

The reason I'd say this debate is more or less moot from (non American here, so ad hominize my face off if you like) is that it's the one-set-of-scoundrels-or-another problem. The very people that make it to the position where they might be part of the machine that allows someone to stand for election are the very people that one wants as far away from any position of power as is possible. Are there many, if any, real differences between the way that the major candidates' parties would run the country? Personally, I doubt it. This is not something that is unique to American politics, of course, but the intensity dial, as in so many things American, is cranked up to 11. With the result, amongst many others, that despite heated arguments that keep appearing here and elsewhere about the left and the right, the actual width of polictical spectrum covered by viable political parties in America, at least from an outside perspective, appears to be mighty slim indeed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:49 PM on July 15, 2001


Ooops typo. I guess the polictical spectrum would be something Mr Clinton would be more aquainted with...

Somebody stop me please.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2001


> Ooops typo. I guess ... would be more aquainted with...

A typo in a correction. That's why it's best to let the typos go and hope people don't think you're just a crap speller.
posted by pracowity at 10:36 PM on July 15, 2001


Well, the second typo was deliberate...and sadly part of a sophomoric joke. Ah, forget it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:41 PM on July 15, 2001


No one's opinion will be changed. Gore/Nader supporters will never accept the legitimacy of Bush

This isn't true. As in any controversial issue, many people--perhaps most people--are unwilling to change their minds, but there are also many of us who are still working out where we stand on this question, and continuing to discuss it helps a lot. To put that more concretely: I voted for Nader. I accept the legitimacy of Bush.

I think the more interesting question, though, is the one that's been raised about the power of the Supreme Court in the system of checks and balances. I'll offer that the reason I'm comfortable with the basic idea of judicial review is that, in theory at least, the most the court can do is strike down an existing law as being unconstitutional--it can't create new laws. This seems in keeping with the rest of the system of checks and balances, which tends to play the different branches of government against each other in such a way that, when something is controversial, it becomes very likely that it won't be done. I do see a risk that the court can interpret the requirements of laws aggressively enough that, in effect, they're creating new policy. But is this what happened in Florida? It seems to me that all they did was block the possibility of a legal remedy for the initial count of the votes.
posted by moss at 11:39 PM on July 15, 2001


Living in Canada, I can't claim to know precisely what you mean by "liberal," but... what's the point of doing it if you're not going to do it right?

transient: Got caught up in the rest of the conversation and didn't address your point. The point is "doing it right" doesn't always work, and sometimes you need what works now.

Look, people had every right to vote for Ralph Nader. Ideally there would be multiple candidates to choose from. My view is that Nader voters realized they wouldn't receive the required 5% but voted with their conscience any way. A noble thing, but in part its responsible for installing a president who doesn't just enact a small part of their legislative agenda (Clinton) but instead repeals and institutes legislation stunningly harmful of their stance (Bush).

Some would say Gore alienated the left by moving center. But this is the same thing Clinton did in '96 after losing the House. He realized that if he campaigned in the middle (where most of America is), he could capture the left vote, get the center, and moderate - right. Sure, you put some of your pet issues under the table, but you sacrifice that for the greater good. Who was going to be better for the left - Bill Clinton or Bob Dole? See what I mean?
posted by owillis at 12:06 AM on July 16, 2001


moss: the most the court can do is strike down an existing law as being unconstitutional--it can't create new laws

Thanks, moss, for addressing that question from earlier. In other words, the Supremes are not instigators - there has to be a case for them to hear...someone in America has to announce, "I'll take this all the way to the Supreme Court!" before the ball starts rolling their way. Enough of a check on SCOTUS' power, I'd say.
posted by davidmsc at 12:26 AM on July 16, 2001


> Well, the second typo was deliberate...and sadly
> part of a sophomoric joke. Ah, forget it.

No, I got the joke. I meant that you misspelled "acquainted" in your correction of a different mis... Screw it. No one cares.


Back to this here Bush feller: where are America's angry young loners with triple-barreled names when you need them? No, no, no. That was a joke. Don't get your collective dander up, boys. The last thing I would want is a mythologized W. I want him to exit the presidency the painfully embarrassing slow way, just as he came in. Besides, imagine President Cheney.

But when do the impeachment proceedings begin? Because I have the feeling that that's how the American politics game will be played from now on. A president will never quite win before starting to lose. The current one didn't even get his hick boots up on the desk before it started.
posted by pracowity at 2:23 AM on July 16, 2001


don't most sunday papers come out on saturday?

A lot of papers produce a Saturday version of the Sunday paper called the bulldog edition that contains everything but the current news. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram sold its bulldog at stores but didn't offer it for delivery.
posted by rcade at 5:53 AM on July 16, 2001


This seems in keeping with the rest of the system of checks and balances, which tends to play the different branches of government against each other in such a way that, when something is controversial, it becomes very likely that it won't be done. I do see a risk that the court can interpret the requirements of laws aggressively enough that, in effect, they're creating new policy. But is this what happened in Florida? It seems to me that all they did was block the possibility of a legal remedy for the initial count of the votes.
posted by moss at 11:39 PM PST on July 15


All they did was block the possibility of a legal remedy of votes. Oh, that's all? Wow. What else could the most undemocratic branch (in fact, the intentionally counter-democratic branch) have done which would've been more controversial when intervening in a democratic election, in the country that for decades had the goal of making the world "safe for democracy?"
posted by raysmj at 7:23 AM on July 16, 2001


rschram: There *is* a value for a last word, but how much of a value there is in 3-2-4 decisions in a case involving a presidential election or any mega-controversial case is hard to say.

I thought Bush v. Gore was 4-3-2. In any event, there's the short term value of a "long haul" check. The political process of nomination over 20+ years produces a fractured yet definitive word on constitutional issues.

It bodes ill for the future of the federal courts, in my mind. Brown v. Board, the only comparably controversial case (Roe wasn't immediately controversial), was a 9-0 decision and handled with deft political skill, even if it took the Civil Rights Act to finally enforce the ruling everywhere. Even Roe was 7-2. With the election case, you're talking about issues at the heart of what a democratic society is all about. A 3-2-4 decision handed down by the least democratic branch of the U.S. government was pretty lame in such a case.

Well, this point was suggested by the NYT Greenhouse piece, which as linked above. To me, it sounds as though these are style points for appellate court decisions. I'll pose another view: Americans are not reassured by unanimity, they are reassured by the symbolic authority the public gives to the magic of legal interpretation.
posted by rschram at 8:30 AM on July 16, 2001


rschram: It's 3-4-2 or whatever depending on which way you look at the case. Seven thought the vote count as ordered by the Fla. Supreme Court was unconstitutional. But two of those seven didn't agree with stopping the count, that there was not enough time for a remedy.
posted by raysmj at 8:44 AM on July 16, 2001


Well, I know it's the Onion, but you can't find this tidbit in their archives, so I thought I'd post it here:

Gore Calls For Recount Of Supreme Court Vote

WASHINGTON, DC-- An increasingly desperate Al Gore called for a recount Tuesday of the U.S. Supreme Court's 9-0 decision in Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board. "There is reason to suspect that these nine votes were not properly counted and that as many as five justices who sided with Mr. Bush did not intend to do so," Gore said. "It is therefore in the best interest of our democracy for the U.S. Supreme Court to suspend judgment in this case until we can be absolutely certain that this court did, in fact, intend to rule in Mr. Bush's favor." Gore added that if his recount request is denied, he will file an appeal with the Interplanetary Supreme Court.

posted by MarkO at 8:53 AM on July 16, 2001


raysmj: What else could the most undemocratic branch (in fact, the intentionally counter-democratic branch) have done which would've been more controversial when intervening in a democratic election, in the country that for decades had the goal of making the world "safe for democracy?"

My point was to call attention to what they couldn't have done. The Supreme Court could not have given the election to Bush if the state of Florida had not already done so. The state of Florida alone could not have given the election to Bush had it not already been extremely close.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the original count in Florida was not done fairly. It had been suggested, though, that what happened in the election shows that the Supreme Court has too much power, and I think this suggestion is wrong. The most the court could have done is to demand a recount--what they did was to fail to excercise that power, for probably partisan reasons, when they should have excercised it.

To act as though President Bush is nothing more than a petty tyrant installed by the Supreme Court with no reference to the will of the people is to ignore the whole series of events that led up to the court decision--in particular, the popular vote, which no one can deny was very close. If there is something to be criticised in this election, it is the behavior of particular people--the members of the Supreme Court among them--and not the organisation of the government under the constitution.

In other words: I believe that the article that started this thread is doing exactly the sort of investigation that should be done.
posted by moss at 10:39 AM on July 16, 2001


rschram: The United States was built upon a foundation of reason, not magic. The Supreme Court, much like the rest of the federal government and the legal establishment, has long featured ceremony and other irrational elements (the use of Latin when there is no need for such, pretending to respect precedent, etc.). But the court *earned* its reputation over the years. It wasn't built it. To say that the court should have power of finality because of its magical powers is to act as if they have a divine right to rule. It's the Divine Right of Kings, redux. I hope you're wrong about the magic part, in total. If not, the seeds of the court's destruction have already been planted.

Also, moss, not suggesting that the court has too much power. Actually, it has no inherent enforcement power. I do have a major problem with them exercising power in this once instance, however, or being thought of as always final. Congress is sometimes final too, thanks, and the people have the ultimate say. If it becomes heard more often that the court's power is built upon magic, though, stronger checks on the court's power will be absolutely necessary.
posted by raysmj at 11:07 AM on July 16, 2001


It seems some of the Democrats may be asking for a congressional inquiry...
posted by owillis at 4:05 PM on July 16, 2001


rschram: The United States was built upon a foundation of reason, not magic.

Magic... 100% magical.

But the court *earned* its reputation over the years.

Reputation is one thing. You could make a case that the Court has unprecedented amounts of "political capital." Authority is another. In one sense, they are related, since the Court had to "earn" the right to judicial review. But now that it has this "right," its a question of the basis for its legitimacy, which I say has everything to do with magic.

It wasn't built it. To say that the court should have power of finality because of its magical powers is to act as if they have a divine right to rule. It's the Divine Right of Kings, redux.

No way, there are many forms of magic. For example "routinized charisma."

I hope you're wrong about the magic part, in total. If not, the seeds of the court's destruction have already been planted.

More magic, more better.
posted by rschram at 11:44 AM on July 17, 2001


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