Politics & Policy

Disorder in The Court

And stupidity in the voting booth.

I could be wrong, I really could be. But, I think that if I shoot myself in the foot, get drunk on Nyquil, decide to fall off the glue-sniffing wagon or do anything else that results in my inability to vote correctly, I have not been “disenfranchised.” Indeed, even if I’m too stoopid or impatient to read a ballot I have not been disenfranchised. I cannot believe it has come to this, but “disenfranchise” is, you know, a word with a meaning. It means to take away a right or privilege, particularly the right to vote.

Now, if I drop my ice-cream cone on the ground, nobody has taken it away. If I swear I meant to pick 12, 14, 22, 34, 56, and 57, and instead I picked 12, 14, 22, 34, 56, and 58, I am not entitled to Lotto winnings and — more importantly — no one has taken anything from me. If — and I swear this is the last example of an incredibly obvious point to sane people everywhere — I send my stockbroker an e-mail saying, “Immediately buy 1,000 shares of IBN!” my rights have not been usurped when it turns out I am the single largest investor in Infected Badger Nuggets Incorporated. Anyone with a bookie understands this concept.

Jesse Jackson — who may go down in history as legitimately one of the least patriotic public figures of the 20th century — is going around screaming that 19,000 Palm Beach oldsters and a few black people were “disenfranchised” because they couldn’t figure out a ballot that over 93% of other Gore voters could figure out. They are, in effect, arguing that there was a “disparate impact,” as the lawyers say. In other words, ballots cast by those too dumb to figure out how to cast them were disproportionately disqualified. Not only were these ballots publicized before the election, they were designed by Democrats so that they would be easier to read for old people. The thinking was that bigger type would aid those with bad vision. Who is to say that even more old-people ballots wouldn’t have been thrown out if they had been designed with prescription-bottle fine print? (And please do remember that 14,000 similar ballots were thrown out in 1996 in Palm Beach without Jesse Jackson finding the need to rhyme badly or Paul Begala to stock up on adult diapers.)

All of this may be sad, unfair, unfortunate, even a travesty — though I think it’s none of these things — but it does not approach, it doesn’t even resemble, “disenfranchisement.” But that doesn’t stop Jesse “No Regularity No Peace” Jackson, Paul “This ballot is Satan’s toilet paper!” Begala, Jack “Every time a Democrat votes an angel gets his wings” Quinn, and William “No count is over until we win it” Daley from reacting as if Jeb Bush had turned on the fire hoses at the polling-station door.


Of course, they’re calling them voting “irregularities” because they can’t use any of the fancy words that actually have any legal significance, like “fraud,” “malfeasance,” or “theft.” Instead, “irregularities” has become the new word for “completely legal and legitimate factors that resulted in an outcome we don’t like.”

I’d like to make one other point about our fellow citizens who are incapable of making the connection between these obscure hieroglyphic symbols experts call “arrows” to these other things the election lawyers call corresponding “holes.”

If — and I realize this is a stretch — if this had happened to Republicans the jokes by late-night comics, pundits like Alter, Begala, and Alterman, the New Republic gang, Hollywood hacks, and the rest would be unrelenting. I doubt I can convince many Democrats, but I think Republicans know that the media establishment’s bias is such that we would not stop hearing about how “This gives new meaning to the stupid party!” etc. if the GOP had screwed up. In that situation, there would be political cartoons of kids protesting failing grades on math tests because of “disturbing long-division irregularities.” Husbands would be telling wives, “I’m sorry honey I couldn’t take out the garbage due to some pervasive irregularities on Monday night football.”

Instead it is seen as mean-spirited to make the same sorts of jokes about Democrats. Well, I’m sorry, stupid is as stupid does. It is not racist or discriminatory to point out the hilarity of the Democratic argument that the future of the Republic should reside in the hands of a handful of people who are incapable of following instructions that literally millions of people around the country have no trouble with.

And speaking of jokes, I honestly thought the laugh track was going to kick in when Bill Daley said at his press conference yesterday that all of this amounted to “an injustice unparalleled in our history.” Was he raised by wolves? Because he certainly seems ignorant of the fact that his father stole votes like a Grateful Dead groupie stealing Cheetos at a 7-11 with a AWOL cashier.

The real tragedy of course is that the Gore campaign has decided it will go to the courts. As always, the party of lawyers has decided the road to the democratic good goes through our least democratic institution, the courts. The Democrats have somehow managed to convince large segments of the American public that judicial diktats are an appropriate expression of the popular will.

Voltaire said, “I was ruined but twice. Once when I lost a lawsuit and once when I won one.” That is the predicament Al Gore is putting himself and the country in. If he goes ahead with his campaign’s plan of unending legal battles and sophistry, he will have reduced the presidency and himself to a Judge Judy spectacle. After eight years, isn’t time for the rule of lawyers to come to an end?

Carthago delenda est.


1. First, I want to thank all of the readers out there who’ve helped make NRO the must-read web mag for our, for now, short national nightmare. Our traffic has been monumental and we owe it to you guys. Please stay with us as we continue to provide much of the news and commentary you can’t find out there. Remember, come back this weekend. We’ll be here; will you?

2. While I am thanking people, I should say that — due to cocktail irregularities — I failed to thank Jessica Kelsey, our webmistress, for her yeoman work on election night. I had mentioned Chris McEvoy and Kathryn Lopez but somehow neglected Jessica. We could not do what we do without her. To paraphrase Eric Idle, a day without Jessica is like something else without something else.

3. Okay, while I’m clearing the air, no, I wasn’t serious when I said 6 trillion people had visited NRO. How people could think I was serious is disturbing. You people might want to take extra time on your butterfly ballots.

4. I also did not mean to imply that NRO was going away after the election when I wrote that we had big plans for after the election. Many newcomers (and there have been scads of them) thought NRO was temporary. We are not temporary, you’re temporary. Nyah! Like the guy who overdosed on viagra said, there’s no telling how long this will last.

5. Many of you wanted to know what a “how’s your father” is. Because this is a family website all I can do is refer you to Austin Powers.

6. Speaking of Austin Powers, you should all know that I will be on something of a vacation from the 16th to 23rd. I will be going to London. I had planned on this vacation occurring during the presidential transition, not during day four of some Florida hearing. I’m still going. Don’t be surprised to hear from me from across the pond, though. I have writing obligations I can’t get out of without getting knee-capped like an independent contractor in the waste-removal industry.

7. Speaking of those commitments, my syndicated column now being carried by the Washington Times website, one of the two or three best newspaper websites in the country. If you are so inclined, it would stand me well if you could rack up some hits for me over there. They still have an old column up, but maybe the traffic spike will remind them to update it.

8. Speaking of asking you people to do my bidding, I want to clear the air about one thing. Recently a bunch of people have been emailing me to chastise my efforts to get myself on Hardball. A devoted NRO reader has been posting on Lucianne.com that people should spam Hardball to get them to have me on. While I think this is very flattering and I would love to do the show, I am orchestrating nothing. I learned my lesson when I encouraged spammers to contact the Hotline two years ago. They’ve more or less blacklisted me from their pages ever since.

9. For those of you who have access to the industry bible known as min’s New Media report, you should check out the glorious write-up of NRO in there. Very cool.

10. In case you missed it: Carthago delenda est.


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