Politics & Policy

Never Too Early to Grouse

Some exit polls on my state of mind.

O.K., now that I’m clean and sober like George W. after his 40th birthday, and I’ve had my coffee, tongue shaving, and a vigorous how’s-your-father, it’s time for us to revisit the situation. Never before has America more desperately needed a Uniter, Not a Divider; A Leader, not a follower; An iggy-the-bongo, not an iggy-the-piggy-wiggy. Is it just me or is that clock melting?

O.K., so maybe you can tell I’m a little over-stimulated this morning. And so, it seems, is everybody else. Here in Washington, conservatives were often fond of saying, “Man, the Washington Post is worthless this morning.” But we were always speaking at least a bit figuratively. Today, it’s literally true. There’s just no information in there. It went to press when several states were “too close to call.” It’s worthless like a 16 in blackjack; giving just enough to be inconvenient but not enough to be useful.

But we at NRO pride ourselves on being the Swiss Army knife of conservative journalism; sometimes a little clunky, pointy in parts, and surrounded by a vague odor of cheese — but, here’s the important part, always useful!

And I am one of these people who believes griping and sniping can be useful. So here is a brief list of the things that have me kicking cats today.

We’re hearing from a broad coalition of know-nothings, morons, and hacks that the electoral college has thwarted the “will of the people.” Horse hockey. No candidate won a majority of the popular vote. Whoever wins the Florida count, the national winner will have a plurality, not a majority. What’s so terrible about constitutional principles dictating which plurality-winning candidate gets the Oval Office? Moreover, an overwhelming majority of states elected George W. Bush.

Voting Machines. Instead of bleating about the archaic and outdated Electoral College, why not dump these cotton looms we call voting booths? As pointed out in today’s Wall Street Journal, these things date back to the 19th century. At my local liquor store I can get a phone card that can place a call to downtown Kinshasa; from my computer, I can buy a sack of rice from Indonesia or a thousand shares of Intel; at the ATM machine or on the telephone I can do a million highly confidential things. But when I go to the polling station I need an old lady in a Leave it to Beaver dress to look up my name in a book that looks like it should have a map from Raiders of the Lost Ark in it. I think online voting is evil and I am against it, but that doesn’t mean polling places need to have antediluvian technology. The reason, of course, that they do have these ancient gadgets is that they are easier to rig for the party machines.

Which brings me to this voter-fraud stuff. Jesse Jackson and his surrogates are trying to float the suggestion that blacks were denied the vote in Florida. They are nodding and winking at the idea of voter fraud. If there is any fraud in Florida, or elsewhere, I will bet dollars to doughnuts it’s at the hands of Democrats. They are the guys who’ve been buying votes from homeless people with smokes (“Ah, nothing says ‘Respect for Democracy’ like the cool taste of a Camel cigarette!”). They are the ones who went to Dick Gephardt’s former chief of staff who is now — conveniently enough — a Missouri judge, to have the St. Louis polls kept open to pad them with Democratic votes. The Democrats have a nice long history of this sort of thing and while I do not want to traffic in rumors, few people think fraud-fretters should fear the Florida GOP.

‐The real fraud in Missouri. I just took a break to watch Senator John Ashcroft give his concession speech. It was one of the classiest things I’ve seen in a long while. Despite numerous constitutional and legal problems with that race, Ashcroft rejected all efforts to question the result of the election. It was really quite stunning.

And so is the victory of Mrs. Carnahan. Well, wait. Technically, the people of Missouri elected a dead man. Missouri Democrats have successfully reversed their old trick of using dead people to elect living politicians.

Of course, the person they were actually voting for is Jean Carnahan. Now, I want to be very clear. Mrs. Carnahan seems like a decent lady who has suffered a terrible tragedy. But come on. She and her supporters say that she wants to keep her husband’s ideas “alive.” They talk about this “keeping the fires burning” and “keeping Mel’s flame alive.” But, on Sunday, when asked what issues she supports, Mrs. Carnahan told Cokie Roberts she wants “to ensure Social Security, to have a real Patients Bill of Rights, and a prescription drug plan under Medicare.” And she thinks it is “important to give targeted tax cuts too, to — to working families…,” blah blah blah.

These are the ideas that need to be “kept alive”? Was the flame of this liberal boilerplate really in danger of being snuffed out with the death of Mel Carnahan? Does nobody carry the torch for these ideas other than the Carnahan family? I mean I could swear I heard at least a couple of other people mention a “real” patient’s bill of rights and targeted tax cuts.

Her election was a disgusting exploitation of understandable popular sympathy. I don’t hold it against Mrs. Carnahan because she is surely sincere in her beliefs about her cause and loved ones. But it shows a certain cravenness of the Democratic party that at the national level they can say Al Gore obviously deserves to win because of his experience and turn around and shove an inexperienced grieving widow into the fray just so they can recapture the Senate.

Speaking of cravenness. I simply think my fellow New Yorkers should be ashamed of themselves.

More cravenness: Tensions were high enough before Jesse Jackson and his merry band of hacks decided to start making the Florida thing a racial incident. The cover article of the latest The New Republic — the chief cheerleader of the notion that Gore is the Messiah — offers a detailed analysis about how Republicans can’t win without playing the race card. And yet, here the election is over and Al Gore is still dispatching emissaries to charge racism for his political advantage. During the campaign, Gore’s surrogates relentlessly and shamefully played the race card, hyping racial animosities and fears. It was a disgusting tactic that the Bush campaign was foolish not to denounce. But at least I had thought that the Democrats would stop when voting was over. Apparently the buzzer never counts when the Democrats play the race card. Once again Al Gore shows his gift for leadership.

Even more cravenness. Jonathan Alter. What is wrong with this guy? His usual bias I could discount. His head-past-the-sphincter sycophancy toward Gore I could tolerate. But good golly, is he so determined to be the Sid Blumenthal of the Gore administration that he is willing to turn himself into a caricature of himself? I’ve clearly hit a popular nerve; after I mentioned him in this morning’s screed about a dozen people wrote in to offer their own tales of the man who makes Eleanor Clift look nuanced. Many pointed to Alter’s desperate gambits to create a groundswell for a Gore presidency. “I think he cited DNA evidence at one point, although it was late, so maybe I’m imagining that,” wrote one guy.

Now, I’d like to end on a positive note. First NRO did better yesterday than ever before. I don’t want to exaggerate, but 6 trillion people visited us over the course of the day yesterday. The true credit goes to the Herculean efforts of Chris McEvoy and Kathryn Lopez who stayed up until the wee hours keeping the flame of NRO alive. I’d like to offer huge props and a mega shout out to them, as Al Gore might say when on black radio.

When things calm down I will brief you on the post-election future of NRO. In the meantime, Keep Hope Alive.


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