As we hand-count our blessings ...

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Date: Wed Nov 22 2000 - 06:07:11 PST

A declaration of bias, first: I voted unenthusiastically for Gore, one big
hunk of my reluctance coming from what strikes me as an inability to connect
with people even (or especially) when he's right, and one big hunk of my vote
coming from my distrust and dismay of the Republican party's long (it dates
back at least to Reconstruction) penchant for claiming, whenever they're
under stress, that to disagree with them is unAmerican, unpatriotic, that the
stars and stripes is really the Republican flag and Dems aren't legitimate.
The fact that recent events have proven both prejudices soundly based is
beside the point.

What's factual is this: Democracy is premised on the notion that process is
more important than result. We follow the process, and whoever wins, wins.
The loser concedes and lives on to fight another day THIS LAST IS NO SMALL
VIRTUE of representative government. There are plenty of examples, current
ones, where the loser of an on-paper-scrupulously run election had best leave
the country. Singapore is one. You don't scorch earth in these United States
of Demurica, because you live here, too.

We can argue to hell and gone about the process, but it prevails, and at a
certain point you have to say it is bigger than I.

And that's what troubles me now, more about Bush than about Gore (and I think
I have extracted my bias from my weighing here). First, it's pretty clear
that if all the votes had been cast perfectly, Gore would have won Florida.
There's the screamingly clear error in the voting in Palm Beach County, a
statistical anomaly that just won't hunt. Add to that another 20,000 or so (I
think that's the number) ballots thrown out in Duval county because idiotic
Democratic get-out-the-vote people told equally idiotic voters, in black
neighborhoods, "make sure you mark a vote on each page" resulting in an
unnaturally high proprotion of ballots marked for two presidential
candidates. Then there are the dimples. (I don't see why people are
complaining about dimples; I think dimples are cute, and when I see them, my
intent is obvious.) Please don't complain about Democrats herding voters to
the polls. Both sides did their best to do that, and in particular the GOP
worked the military and absentees hard.

(Sidenote here: Given what we know about Palm Beach and Duval, it seems the
exit polls were accurate when they showed Gore likely to win. I saw some of
that data at 3 pm and 4 pm on election day. The networks might actually be
commended here: They waited a bit on their call until they could see actual
vote tabulations that matched the exit poll data, then called it for Gore.
What they couldn't see was the mistaken balloting in two very populous
counties; and once they saw contrary data coming in, they reversed

Even with all this, it's terribly close--if there'd been a foolproof voting
system, Gore'd have won fair and square by the most delicate of whiskers.
Given that, he's not trying to steal anything. I don't think Bush is trying
to steal anything, either. But the machines aren't foolproof, any more than
people are. The manufacturers say they can get 99.9 to 99.99% accuracy--even
the latter standard, for new machines in perfect condition (find one), is
enough to account for the difference.

It was obvious from the start that there are two standards for counting votes
under these circumstances: "do your best" and "tough noogies." If you took
"do your best" to its greatest extreme, it would include adjusting those
obviously incorrect Buchanan votes in Palm Beach County, and conceivably
trying legal action in Duval County. If you took "tough noogies" to extreme,
it would include throwing out all military votes that didn't have postmarks,
because that's what the law says, and tough noogies. The Goreites floated
that propostion, but quickly backed down from it--my guess would be that when
history lets us into the files we'll see that it was Big Al himself who
called the Florida AG and said "don't go there." Overall, theBushites have
been holding out for "tough noogies" except for military people; and the
Goreites have gone for "do your best".

It's clear also that of all the inalienable rights, the right to vote is the
foundation, and that the right implies the right to have your vote counted:
i.e. anyone with half an ear for the nuances of history would know that the
ruling by the Supremes would come down on the side of R -E -S-P -E-C-T.

And that's where process comes in. The process is set, and it's pretty
obviously fair. Dimples are an issue, yes. Maybe they won't need to come into

Gore's already made it plain, four times, that he'll abide by the outcome of
the process. First by his concession call election night and retraction of
it--he was ready to lose. Second by his call the other day to meet with W.
Third in what strikes me as an act very gentlemanlike and respectful of
process, Gore abandoned any effort to get technical with the Buchanan
anomaly. That concession (and yes, Gore made it when he made his offer to
meet with W) was a very big deal and an exemplary (if obvioulsy called for)
bow to Process. And fourth by his yesterday's reiteration of the offer to
meet with W in a show of national unity and respect for the Constitution.
Sure, the first time he made that offer it was a political stroke--a subtle
masterstroke, from an often klutzy guy--but Bush had a way to accept it
without seeming to be the little boy following the leaderly example of the
Vice President: He could have had his Daddy call Ford, and had Ford call
Carter, and had Ford and Carter call W and Al and suggest they meet for a
drink somewhere, and issue a statement saying "God Bless America and the

And this is what I'm looking for and rather appalled not to have heard. There
comes a time when the client has to tell the lawyer to get out from behind
the wheel and sit in the back seat. That time has come. The boil's cleared up
and Bush needs to say a word about Process. It's time for each of them to
agree--hell, they can do a split-screen news conference from Austin and
Washington--that the process is in place, Monday's it, Tom DeLie stays in his
cage and David Boytoy goes back to taking on real threats to our liberty.

As for dimples: I can't resist 'em, but that's my bias. Probably there are
others on this list who love it when some Chad or Ron or John is suspended in
a corner.


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