When hypocrisy hangs thicker than manure, and smells even worse

This isn’t about either Larry Craig or David Vitter: may they both find peace (and perhaps a little tolerance for others) in their respective closets.  No, this has to do with something infinitely more important — an act of hypocrisy that involves nothing less than an attempt by the GOP to steal the 2008 presidential election, this time by way of California.

Travel with me, if you will, back to those gut-wrenching days following the voting in the 2000 presidential election.  George W. Bush — a new kind of Republican, as you’ll recall, a compassionate conservative and someone who preached humility and restraint in foreign affairs — had just been declared (by the media following the lead of Fox News) to be the winner of the election.  This despite the fact he received 500,000 less votes than Al Gore nationally and the winner in Florida remained unresolved.

As the days dragged on, with Bush’s “victory” ever more in doubt, Team Bush fought on in scorched earth style.  Pulling out all the stops they accused Gore, almost certainly the actual winner, of trying to steal the election.  They fought to stop Florida from counting legal votes, and moved aggressively in both Congress and the Florida legislature to declare Bush the winner whatever the result of the recount.   Finally, of course, they turned to a shamefully partisan Supreme Court to overturn the actual decision of the voters.

Oh — and there was another part to this take no prisoners strategy — something the GOP shouted from every mountaintop: Al Gore, they insisted again and again, was duty bound to voluntarily concede the election to Bush, whatever the merits of his position.  Patriotism, they said, demanded it.  The uncertainty over the election’s outcome would otherwise tear the nation apart.  Gore, by insisting on a recount, was throwing the nation into a dangerous and unnecessary constitutional crisis.

Here’s a particularly spiteful example from that charmer Peggy Noonan:

(Time) Why Gore Should Concede

Al Gore should hang it up. And then he should hang his head in shame. In a great irony of which he may someday become aware, Gore proved at the end of his presidential campaign what he had spent most of that campaign trying to disprove. In words and deeds, in photo ops and tactical decisions, he kept trying to demonstrate that he was not Bill Clinton. And now at the end, by putting the country through a terrible trauma to serve his own needs and retain personal power, he shows that if he is not a complete Clinton clone, he is at the very least a man who has absorbed and accepted the central ethos of Clintonism: “We’ll just have to win, then.” No matter what.

Ah, yes, the awful national trauma of an unsettled election (although the polls at the time showed that a clear majority of the American people favored taking the time necessary to reach the correct result).  It’s a wonder, if we give credence to the Republicans’ expressions of alarm, that the very walls of the republic didn’t come tumbling down.

*  *  *

Fast forward almost seven years.  Facing poor prospects of retaining the White House in 2008, GOP operatives are back at their old tricks — trying to steal an election.  And they’re doing it in a way which, should they succeed, will virtually guarantee a true constitutional crisis.  Setting their sights on the most important blue state of them all, they’re pushing an initiative in California for a constitutional amendment that would fundamentally change how the state’s electoral votes are awarded.

Under the current system — the same one followed in every other state except Maine and Nebraska — all of California’s 55 electoral votes go to the candidate who wins the statewide vote.  Were California to adopt the proposed ballot initiative, however, the electoral votes would be awarded according to the vote in each individual congressional district.  The practical effect would  likely be to take around 20 electoral votes from the Democratic nominee (who’s virtually certain to carry the state) and give them to the Republican nominee, making it much harder for the Democrat to win even if he/she carries the popular vote nationally.

As others have noted, the problem here isn’t per se with the idea of awarding electors based upon the results in congressional districts (as Maine and Nebraska do), but with doing so on a piecemeal basis, with a large Democratic leaning state like California dividing up its electors that way, when large Republican leaning states, like Texas, don’t.

Assuming Democrats respond aggressively (which it appears they will), there’s probably little chance the initiative will actually pass.  But if it does, a major constitutional crisis could very easily arise.  It’s right there in the United States Constitution: Article 2, Section 1:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

By the express language of the constitution, electors must be selected in the manner directed by the legislature, not under the initiative and referendum process.  In other words, the proposed initiative is probably unconstitutional.  But given what the Supreme Court did in Bush v. Gore, who can be confident that’s how the decision would actually come down? 

Timing now becomes critical: assuming the initiative garners the necessary signatures, the vote will occur in June at the time of the primary election, just five months before the general election.  It’s very unlikely the constitutional issues could be resolved that quickly.  This means, of course, that we would probably head into Election Day not knowing how California’s electors would ultimately be apportioned.  Assuming then the likely scenario that the Democrat wins California by a large margin overall, but the Republican gets the most votes in around 20 of the state’s congressional districts, 20 electoral votes would hang in the balance (the same number Ohio has).  In a close election (like the last two) that could easily throw the outcome of the whole election into doubt. 

Talk about uncertainty leading to national trauma.  It isn’t even clear which institution would ultimately resolve the crisis.  Would Congress decide the issue this time?  Or would the Supreme Court jump in again?  And unlike election 2000, this time the crisis wouldn’t even arguably arise out of the happenstance of an unusually close election, but out of deliberate manipulation of the process by one party with the goal of thwarting the public will.  Thinking about the popular fury such a standoff would be likely to produce should be enough to frighten anyone who truly loves this country. 

This would be a true constitutional crisis — one with the potential to tear the nation apart.

And isn’t it interesting how some of the very same people who so strongly insisted that it was Al Gore’s patriotic duty to give up rather than risk a constitutional crisis in election 2000, are perfectly happy to risk a much bigger one this time around when they think it might work to their advantage.

GOP — hypocrisy is thy name!   

5 Responses to “When hypocrisy hangs thicker than manure, and smells even worse”

  1. Chuck Says:

    Speaking of electoral votes, I seem to recall that not all electors are REQUIRED to vote the same way as the popular vote. (That might have changed over the years though.) I think an example of this came up in the 1800’s when the electors would travel by horse or something, and along the trip one of them chose his own guy instead of the popular vote in his state.

    Never did trust the electoral college anyway. Just done to allow the slave states to count slaves as 5/8 of a man so they could have more Reps. & Sens. to counteract more populated anti-slave Northern states.

    On the other hand, we should always be concerned with what de Tocqueville called “the power of the majority”. Because a majority wants it, doesn’t make it right, it can also be a mob action.

    In my humble opinion.

  2. FreeDem Says:

    Situational ethics has always been a Gang Of Pirates hallmark, but hardly ever so situational as this case. After gerrymandering Florida and Texas to create 30% more Republican Congressmen from those states, they now make a huge issue, widely talked and advertized in California, and dead quiet about in the Florida and Texas media.

    Just as in the y2k debacle a great deal of noise was made about Gore saying that late overseas votes should not be counted, even as they had a much more sophisticated process of aggressively challenging overseas votes that were cast in Democratic strongholds, and making noise to count even very late (like cast after the election) votes that they knew would favor them.

    The easiest way to tell if they are seriously fraudulent about something is to see what they are advertizing for and figure that the opposite is the real need.

    It is well beyond Hypocrisy, and needs to be called what it is Situational Propaganda. Their base has been told that Liberal beliefs in diversity is “Situational Ethics” and primed them to respond to that buzzword- it needs seriously shoved back down their throats.

  3. alwayshope Says:

    Ah yes, 2000.

    Yeah, I voted…..so what?

    I feel empowered when I leave that booth,
    My civic duty done with pride.
    I’ve made my mark, spoken my truth,
    And it will count, or so it’s implied.

    Now Gore, now Bush, now too close to call.
    And Florida holds the keys.
    Buccanan gets votes and hanging chads fall,
    Protesters show up in Rvs.

    Now count them, no don’t, and judges decide.
    Yes you can, or not, if you like..
    Palm Beach tries, Dade says, “nah, let it ride.”
    And Al’s finger slips out of the dike.

    Now Bush has the lead. WE WON ! They demand.
    Stop the count! Katherine Harris complies.
    And call up the highest court in the land.
    In case they see through all our lies.

    The Supremes agree they haven’t a clue.
    They kick it back to the Sunshine State.
    And a judge named Sauls know just what to do.
    He bangs his gavel and cleans the slate.

    No more counting, he says, it’s over and done.
    Back to the Supremes we must go.
    This time they eagerly declare that Bush won
    ‘Cause they can and they want to, you know.

    It’s over now! They exclaim from the ranch where he hides.
    And most admit that it’s true.
    But it feels all wrong deep down inside,
    “We the people” were not me and you.

    They were judges and lawyers and spinners.
    And the news folk of course had a hand.
    We could only watch as they picked the winners.
    With sadness I watch Al’s last stand.

    Al fought on with honor and lost with grace,
    He was a better man in the end.
    Dubya got a big boil on the side of his face,
    And called all his Daddy’s men.

    Well, at least it’s over, though we had no say.
    Judge Rehnquist always knows best.
    Those who own this country will now have their way.
    And a new chance to feather their nest.

    Now twice has Florida caused this fiasco.
    I suggest we cut it off, set it free!
    Maybe it’ll float on down to Castro
    And little Elian can go back to Disney.

    Dec. 2000

  4. moseybear Says:

    In 2000, the GOP played the “Supreme Court” card to hijack the POTUS. The public got wise to their treason. In 2004, they played the “Diebold voting machine & voter suppression card”. Again, the public got wise to the treachery. Now, in 2008, running out of cards to play, the GOP is playing the Electoral College card. By the time the public sees this, gets up to speed on the subject of the Electoral College, it, like in 2000 and 2004, will be a moot point.

    I hear that an independent film is being produced entitled “Vox Populus”, which is dealing with the injustice of the Electoral College. Good luck. The public’s misconception for support of the E.C. is wrongly rooted in the prevention of so-called “mob rule”. However, the word “mob” was meant more as an adjective than a noun. What could be more of a subversive “mob” than 7 un-elected lawyers whose nomination is forwarded by non other than the POTUS? The Supreme Court is both a mob — noun — and a mob — adjective. Who threw away ballots? Who locked themselves behind closed doors?

    Can’t wait for “Vox Populus” to blow the lid off the GOP’s plans for an Electoral College rigging of the 2008 election. How many citizens know that the Declaration of Independence, thanks to the Electoral College and GOP has been reduced to nothing more than a historical artifact? It is not law, despite the worst loss of American lives in our history — our Civil War. Thanks to the GOP, it was a horrific waste of lives and time. Lincoln is rolling over in his grave. SHAME.

  5. alincoln Says:

    You bet I am “rolling over”. I ran on the platform that the Declaration of Independence was not just law, but THE law — not from men — but from God. All men are created equal. Btw, before becoming POTUS, while just a lawyer, I wrote that “men” included women as well. You see, while the French consider their country in the feminine, Viva la France, it also includes the masculine. Not so with the English language. We use the masculine to refer to our County but it always meant to include — not exclude the femine. I wrote about including women long before you people got the idea. What part of “All men (including women) are created equal” don’t you understand? One “man”, one vote. That is what we fought our war of Independence on and later, I had to deal with this same issue while running for POTUS (see my Cooper’s Union speech).

    If you didn’t believe that the Declaration of Independence was supreme law, untouchable by the Constitution, then why did you elect me? Why did we fight the great Civil War? Are you telling me now that some “men” are more equal than other “men”? Seems so. A Wyoming or Ohio voter for POTUS is 1/5th more of “a man” than one in California. Who says so? The Supreme Court says so that’s who. The same Supreme Court that made a mockery of our great Civil War by asserting that the Constitution trumped the great Declaration of Independence. Thanks for wasting my time and lots of brave American lives who fought and died not for the Constitution, but for the Declaration. Remember Dred Scott? The Constitution allowed slavery. Is this the document you want to replace the Declaration with?

    No, corporations are not people but “artificial persons”. A man who is 1/5th of another man is not equal but 1/5th slave. Wake up you people and listen to what Benjamin Franklin warned us about. You have lost your republic while at the same time thinking you have preserved it. Director John Frankenheimer in his film, “The Manchurian Candidate” purposely used my image throughout the film indirectly to show how our domestic enemies distort the truth. Watch the film (again). Count how many times he uses my image while the real traitors are operating. Perhaps you missed it but I saw it straight-away.

    Next time you sing our National Anthem, remember that those words were penned not for the Constitution, but for the Declaration of Independence. For God’s sake, listen to what you are saying. Stop being Confederate sheep.



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