Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Revisionist History

I've often suspected that Antonin Scalia lived in an alternate reality, but this comment he made last night in New York proves it:
"U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the high court did not inject itself into the 2000 presidential election.

Speaking at the Time Warner Center last night, Scalia said: 'The election was dragged into the courts by the Gore people. We did not go looking for trouble.'"
Let's take a trip down memory lane.

First of all, the Gore people took the election problems into the courts because the state official in charge of the election -- the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign named Katherine Harris -- refused their state-sanctioned request for a manual recount. To characterize this as some kind of reckless, wild-eyed lawsuit is insane. (Especially since, as TPM reminds us, the most thorough recount analysis showed that Gore would, in fact, have won the state if he'd pressed for a complete statewide recount.)

Second, the case only leapt from the state courts to the U.S. Supreme Court because the Bush campaign appealed the decision of the Florida Supreme Court. For all of Bush's constant complaining about runaway lawsuits and federal appeals, he surely leapt at the chance to get his own complaints before the High Court. How Scalia can lay this at the feet of the Gore camp is beyond me. (It's called "Bush v. Gore" for a reason, Tony. Bush was the plaintiff, and therefore his name gets to come first.)

Third, the Supreme Court didn't have to take the case. Despite all the pundits' claims that there was a "constitutional crisis" going on with the recount, there wasn't anything of the sort. The Constitution has a specific means of resolution for a contested election, and the path to resolving it goes through Congress, and not the Supreme Court. You think someone who claims to defend the original meaning of the Constitution would understand that. Moreover, Scalia had long been at the forefront of arguing against federal interference in state affairs, especially in the realm of voting. Yet another "principle" that he quickly abandoned in the rush to hand the election to Bush.

I know the 2000 election is old news, and the insanity of Antonin Scalia is even older. But I still can't help getting mad.


S.W. Anderson said...

Excellent points, Otto Man, and well made.

I've always thought one thing about the 2000 election debacle winding up in the Supreme Court was especially appropriate: Florida is a big citrus state, and the Supremes sure knew how to pick a lemon.

Otto Man said...

Ha! Well said.

Mr Furious said...

Good one swa.

Yeah, I came across that story today, too. What complete bullshit. I just shake my head and wish we actually had a media and an opposition party when I read crap like that...

Thrillhous said...

Awesome post.

Smitty said...

Absolutely terrific post. Very well-said.

His statement is so....appropos to how the Bush camp says stuff: either they get caught in a bold faced lie, or they say something juuuuust outside the truth enough that they can cover their tracks with one of those "not what I meant" things. I mean...it's not even good spin.

I've been meaning to ask your (all of y'alls) opinion about something:

A few of us were nursing some Bell's Batch 7000 and discussing the upcoming 2006 elections. The impasse we reached is that some believed that the total sum of the past few months' worth of scandals in Washington would actually discourage people from voting. In other words, will people be so sick of the bullshit that they just throw up their hands and not vote at all, thinking that regardless of the options...we're screwed?

Tokyo Joe said...

Great post and you made a lot of good points, but you're missing how the Reps fundamentally see this issue. They see Gore as someone who lowered the entire election process by demanding a recount and reducing the overall credibility of the Office of the President. It doesn't matter to them who was right or who was wrong. What matters is the percieved integrity of the process was itself questioned. In similiar closely contested elections in the past, they had always just let the result stand (even Trudeau in a Doonesbury strip called Nixon "classy" for letting results stand). But to them, Gore had actually gone back on "his word" and dared to question what he had already concede. Gore's legacy is now percieved to be that no close election will ever be seen to be correct, thus reducing the legitimacy of almost any elected office. In the end I believe this ultimately hurt the dems since it gave the reps such a rallying point and a source of smugness in the '04 election (that and Michael Moore who must have been paid by Bush himself because you can't fake that sort of incompetence).

While I don't whole heartedly agree with this, there is an element of truth. Just because the emporer isn't wearing clothes, isn't always a good reason to point it out.

Otto Man said...


I think some people will be discouraged from voting in 2006, but they'll largely be Republican voters -- either libertarians in a furor over the GOP's spendthrift big government ways, the Religious Right folks who feel sold out for one reason or another, or general conservatives who are ashamed of what's going on in their name.

Independents love to rally around a "throw the bums out" theme, however, and this election should bring them out in droves. Bush is polling horribly among independents, too, so any of them that come out to the polls will move against the GOP.

And, needless to say, Democrats are going to be out in droves.

Otto Man said...

Tokyo Joe:

Good point about the "Sore Loserman" imagery that surrounded the Gore request for the recount. And, yes, the Republicans and the media trotted out the story about how Nixon nobly refused to contest the 1960 election, but there's one problem with that -- it simply wasn't true.

As described in brief
, Nixon and the RNC initiated recounts in eleven different states, sent campaign agents into eight states to conduct "field tests," and continued to maneuver to challenge the election right up to the point that Kennedy's victory was confirmed by the electoral college.

Tokyo Joe said...


Thanks for the info, but it doesn't quite sour the Nixon thing for me. From your link I get more of an impression that Nixon's people were the one's doing the recount while Nixon was already done. If nothing else, that's what a good staff does and by at least publicly accepting the results, Nixon gave it credibility.

Gore changed all that and while i don't think he completely undermined the Presidency, he ultimately gave the ultra left a huge sticking point that made them easily dissmissable (is that even a word?) by the undecideds.

S.W. Anderson said...

Tokyo Joe, you make an interesting case, but I don't agree.

Bush & Co. and the whole radical-right/neocon plague, and all the sugardaddies stuffing money down their Fruit of the Looms, are all — always — about anything to win.

They'd steal the pennies off a dead family member's eyes (to use an old expression) if they thought doing that would help them win.

I don't think notions of propriety had anything to do with it. Had Republicans been concerned about propriety, they wouldn't have let the RNC and Bush-Cheney campaign recruit and pay the way for out-of-state hell raisers to go to Florida in an effort to make the recount into an chaotic, ugly spectacle.

Tokyo Joe said...

SW, you bring up some good points, but I think you're missing a big part of it. Yes, Bush and his ilk have no respect for the system themselves, but they managed to keep quiet about it at the time. Even though all the players knew about the "alleged" dirty dealings, everyone still kept the illusion alive that the process was perfect. People from both sides have been fixing elections for centuries, but everyone kept the illusion alive. Since Gore was the one that opened the pandora's box, he takes the blame for "eroding" the trust in the office. Heck, the reps have used that as a subtle fall back almost since day one. Everytime someone said they "stole" the election, they fired back that they couldn't do their job with the support of the people.

I think we will see this truly come back and bite the Dems in the ass in the next big election. If the Dems finally get their act together and run a decent canidate (and it really shouldn't be anyone who's name rhythms with blinton), then the reps are going to first contest the results and then undermine the office until the President has an even more difficult job. This type of hypocracy happens all the time in DC on both sides.