Editorial by John Ziegler

The Most Outrageous Statements & Myths of the Florida Recount.

12/20/2000

OUTRAGEOUS STATEMENTS:

Al Gore: (Nov 27)
"Over 10,000 votes in Dade County have never been counted, not even once."

If the votes hadn't been counted, how do they know exactly how many there are? Those votes WERE counted TWICE, as "under votes."

Al Gore: (Nov 27)
"If the voters choose me."

Al, the election was 3 weeks ago. What's with the future tense?

Al Gore: (Nov 27)
The Dade County canvassing board was "prevented from recounting votes due to organized intimidation."

The reality is that only ONE member of the canvassing board even mentioned the protestors as a FACTOR in the decision to stop the hand recounts, no one was hurt or arrested, and there was NO evidence of any "organized intimidation."

Al Gore: (Nov 28)
After finding out 60% of the American people wanted him to concede, "I am quite sure that public opinion doesn't matter here, this is a legal matter."

I thought that during Impeachment, the WHOLE reason that we didn't see THAT "legal matter" through was because 60% of the American people didn't want us to!

Al Gore: (Nov 15)
After HIS minions verbally assaulted Katherine Harris, "I would like to urge all of those speaking for either of us to do their part to lift up this discourse, to refrain from using inflammatory language, and to avoid statements that could make it harder for our country to come together once the counting is over."

Too bad nothing changed, except the conservative members of the Florida Legislature and U.S. Supreme Court were added to the "search out and destroy" list.

Al Gore: (Dec 5)
After crying for weeks "count all the votes," Gore stated emphatically he is not a party to the Seminole County absentee ballot case where 15,000 votes could have been thrown out if the Gore supporter had his way. Gore then grossly misstated the facts of that case ("Democratic applications were thrown in the trash") and enthusiastically backed the side that was DIRECTLY contrary to his alleged vote counting philosophy.

Al Gore: (Nov 8)
"Despite the fact that Joe Lieberman and I won the POPULAR VOTE…."

That was not a fact in "evidence" at the time (it STILL may not be) and was COMPLETELY irrelevant, unless one was contemplating inciting an uprising against the Constitution.

William Daley: (Nov 8)
"The candidate who the voters preferred (not voted for) should be our next President."

Why didn't we just ask all those who didn't even get to the polls for whom they WOULD have voted had they gone?!

Harry Reid (Dem. Sen, NV): (Nov 9)
"The POPULAR vote is the fairer way to determine the President, RIGHT NOW."

Is TOTAL YARDAGE (and NOT points) the fairest way to determine who wins the Super Bowl? How about AFTER the game was already played under other rules?

Hillary Clinton: (Nov 9)
Calls for the end of the Electoral College during the recount of a Presidential election involving her husband's Vice President in which that candidate was likely to win the popular vote, but lose in the Electoral College.

I'm not sure which was more outrageous, Hillary's timing or her abject ignorance of the Constitution which requires ? of the states to approve of the abolition of the Electoral College which will NEVER happen because way more than ? of the states benefit from it.

Bill Clinton: (Nov 30):
"All the votes must be counted and they haven't been counted yet." "I believe more people intended to vote for Al Gore in Florida."

It was just a matter of time before Bill said something false/inappropriate during this process. Frankly I was surprised it took so long.

Dick Chaney: (Nov 30)
"I (not we or Governor Bush) have no control over the Florida Legislature."

I thought we might have another Al Haig, "I'm in charge here" moment, but luckily the media never noticed this slip up. Interestingly, Chaney answered the SAME question a few days later by saying, "WE have no control over……

Numerous Republican Handcount Observers:
Charged that ballots were being handled inappropriately, chads were being eaten, holes were being taped over, and votes were being created for Gore.

While there is no doubt that the hand recount process was VERY subjective and probably unconstitutional, there was little or no evidence to support these serious claims.

George W. Bush: (Nov 22)
"I am happy to report that Dick Chaney did not have a heart attack."

Oops, it turns out that Chaney DID have a minor heart attack and Bush should have (may have) already known that when he made the statement.

Joe Lieberman: (Dec 1):
Calling on Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature to reconsider its decision to be prepared to choose its own electors because it would be an "end run around our legitimate election process" and could lead us into a "constitutional crisis."

There is NO evidence that Jeb had ANYTHING to do with this move which the Florida Legislature had the OBLIGATION to undertake because the CONSITUTION requires it!

Robert Wexler (Dem, Cong, Palm Beach):
"Holocaust survivors came out of the polls weeping and called me horrified after realizing that they might have voted for Pat Buchanan because of the confusing ballot."

First of all, the implication here is that Buchanan is a Nazi. That is ridiculous, Buchanan actually had an uncle die in the Holocaust…. he fell off a guard watchtower. Secondly (and more seriously), it turned out that the vast majority of Buchanan's votes in Palm Beach came from BLACK precincts and the Gore campaign hired telemarketers to ask people in Palm Beach if the ballot had confused them.

David Boies (Gore lead attorney):
Stated to the Florida Supreme Court that dimpled chads had been counted as votes in a case upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Turns out that statement was totally false, as was the affidavit Boies had the lawyer in that case sign. However, Boies still managed to walk on water in the eyes of the media.

David Boies and Florida Supreme Court:
The Court asked Boies how many votes Gore had picked up in the Palm Beach hand recount. Boies said 215. The Court then order 215 to be deducted from Bush's margin.

There was only one problem here. According to the Democratic Election Supervisor Theresa LePore, Gore only picked up 174. Despite this inconvenient fact, the news media used the 215 figure in their new calculations until the U.S. Supreme Court halted the recount. How scary is it that the vote OFFICIAL vote total was, at least temporarily, wrongly determined by a LAWYER?!

Paul Begalla and James Carville:
Simply too numerous to mention here.

Chip Reid (NBC News):
(Reporting on the what the Gore camp had told him), "If she goes through with this the investigation into Katherine Harris will make Whitewater look like a picnic." "The Gore people are disappointed that their vote pickup is behind SCHEDULE in Broward County."

When exactly does a recount officially become a "vote pickup" and were the vote counters themselves aware that there was a schedule for that pickup?!

Jonathan Alter (MSNBC): (Nov 24)
"If thousands of Palm Beach voters had not been confused by an illegal ballot, we wouldn't even be here today because Al Gore would have won easily." (Nov 28) "I think Al Gore can withstand 60% of the American people wanting him to concede. Maybe if it gets to 80-90%, then he'll start to be under pressure to concede."

Were BOTH NBC and the Gore campaign paying Jonathan Alter, or is just the Gore campaign?

Claire Shipman (NBC): (Dec 8)
Reported moments BEFORE the Florida Supreme Court's final ruling that the decision was a major victory for Gore.

There was nothing wrong with her reporting the information she got from the Gore campaign (which turned out to be true), but how exactly did the Gore campaign know before anyone else and why was no one suspicious that this was clear evidence of a connection between the Florida Supreme Court and the Gore campaign?

Lois Frankel (Dem. Florida Leg.) (Dec 11)
"This move by the Republican State Legislature (to name a slate of Bush electors) is a purely partisan political ploy that has every indication that it came directly from the Bush campaign except a post mark from Austin, Texas."

Once again, this is an inflammatory statement with absolutely no evidence to support it and no apparent repercussions.

Dick Gephardt (Dem. Cong):(Dec 14)
"This election is illegitimate."

Can you imagine what would have happened to Tom Delay if he had said that about a Gore victory?

Jesse Jackson: (Dec 13)
"There is no honor or legitimacy when the loser wins. To win by this count, to ignore the recount, leaves the president illegitimate. The right-wing Supreme Court subsidized this illegitimate election." Jackson also compared his investigation of ALLEDGED voting irregularities in Florida to the bloody 1965 march for voting rights in Selma, Ala and the battle of Gettysburg.

What right does an unelected, self-appointed, trouble making, media whore from Illinois have to make these types of charges without evidence or foundation? Oh, I forgot. He is a black "leader." He can say anything he wants to.

Mikel Jones (Aide to Florida Cong. Alcee Hastings): (Dec 13)
"If the Supreme Court were made up of nine Scalias, I'd be working tending your fields."

To me this was the MOST outrageous statement of the entire process. Jones, a black man, showed in one absurdity the nature and depth of the racial divide in this country and the double standard in acceptable speech for blacks and whites.

MYTHS:

-- "The Butterfly ballot in Palm Beach was illegal."

Surprise! It turns out that it wasn't even close. In the end even the Democratic Florida Supreme Court basically said, "get this dog out of here."

-- "19,000 Palm Beach voters were "disenfranchised" by their confusion over the Palm Beach Ballot."

In reality, those who accidentally double punched their ballots because of "confusion" were allowed to try again, and many did.

-- "Holocaust survivors accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan."

The vast majority of Buchanan's mistaken votes actually came from predominantly black precincts.

-- "'Irregularities' properly allowed for hand recounts in 4 Democratic counties."

While the Palm Beach numbers WERE, in fact, outside the norm, there was NOTHING "irregular" about the other three counties except that they all had large blocks of Gore votes. It was ridiculous that this partial hand recount was given ANY credibility by the media and, ironically, in the end it probably eliminated any chance for Gore to win in the end.

-- "That Palm Beach, Broward, Volusia and Dade Counties were the only places that had large percentages of 'under votes.'"

In fact, 37 Florida counties had a higher percentage of under votes than Dade, and Broward was well within the normal range. Duval County had over twice as many (percentage wise) under-votes as Miami-Dade and, until the Florida Supreme Court inappropriately stepped, no one ever asked for a hand recount there where Bush won easily.

-- "Jeb Bush had influence over the recount process."

Jeb Bush recused himself from the process and his presence has actually HINDERED the Bush team because of this public perception.

-- "Republicans and Democrats acted equally badly in the recount process and had the situation been reversed each would have done exactly what the other did."

While I agree that both sides acted poorly at times, it is very important to note here that, as I originally predicted, it was the Democrats who CLEARLY declared war here and it is difficult to blame the Republicans (especially post-impeachment) for not wanting to show up to a gun fight with only a switch blade. Also, I truly believe that Bush would NEVER have supported the throwing out of military overseas ballots and disputed absentee ballots in Seminole and Martin counties. I also believe that Bush would have conceded LONG before Gore did.

-- "The American People showed great patience during the recount process in their willingness to let the process work its way out."

While it would be nice to believe that this was true and an indication that we have faith in our institutions, the evidence suggests that, amazingly, the reality was that most of the American people just didn't give a damn about what was happening. While about 1/3rd (as usual) did care, most of THEM viewed it as a mini soap opera that they didn't want to have end. I really believe that post-O.J., Impeachment, and the Florida recount, we are living in an age where we have seen SO many bizarre things that the standard of what has to happen to actually get our attention is now FRIGHTENINGLY high. In short, we feel as if we have seen almost everything and maybe we have. This may be one explanation for the recent slump in the movie industry.

-- "The black vote was suppressed in Florida by Republican intimidation."

There has not been ONE shred of evidence to support this inflammatory claim and the only FACT that we have in this area is that the black vote in Florida increased from 10% of the turnout in 1996 to 16% of the turnout in 2000. That is an increase of 60%! Either the Republicans did a much "better" job of intimidation in 1996 than in 2000, or this was simply irresponsible bunk.

-- "A dimpled chad is a legitimate basis to determine the voter's intent."

Florida had never counted dimpled chads before and (as previously noted) David Boies lied to the Florida Supreme Court about what an Illinois case had said on the subject. But the BEST argument (that I hardly ever heard) against the dimpled chad is that a dimpled chad DID NOT disqualify a ballot as an "over-vote" if it happened to occur on a ballot that already had a clear choice for President. To be logically consistent, if a dimpled chad can VALIDATE a ballot, it must also be able to INVALIDATE one. I happen to believe that, since humans were unable to duplicate the dimpled chad, that most of them were simply created by the machine searching for holes during the recount process.

-- "No one goes to the polls and doesn't vote for President."

This was used as an argument to look at the under-votes, but it is false. Nation wide, traditionally just over 1 % of ballots show no preference for President and the VAST majority of Florida counties (including those that had hand recounts) fell well within the normal range. I found it particularly galling that this myth survived for an election during which we were continually told that both candidates stunk.

-- "The Florida Legislature had no legal right to select its on slate of electors and to do so was to usurp the will of the people."

Not only did they have the CLEAR authority to do this under article two of the Constitution, but also a legitimate argument could be made that they had the OBLIGATION to step in and protect Florida's place at the Electoral College. BTW, just how did the Florida Legislature become so dominated by Republicans? Oh, that's right, it was the WILL OF THE PEOPLE.

-- "Hundreds of legitimate overseas military ballots were tossed out because of only a lack of postmark, over which the voter had no control."

This may have been the lone pro-Republican myth to become established in the public's consciousness. While Bush probably DID lose a few legitimate votes that were tossed out inappropriately by Democratic canvassing boards because they only lacked a postmark, the vast majority of those votes were actually not counted because the voter was not properly registered.

-- "An angry mob of Republican protesters intimidated the Miami-Dade canvassing board into stopping their hand recount."

Only one member of the Democratic canvassing board even mentioned the "mob" as a factor in the decision. No one was arrested and no one was hurt. The crowd was rightfully angry because the board had just decided to do their hand recount in a private room with no public scrutiny. Also, the reality is that Gore would likely have LOST votes had any fair recount been done of the remaining ballots in Miami-Dade because many of the most heavily Democratic districts had already been counted.

-- "Al Gore actually got more votes in Florida; he just can't prove it."

This myth is so pervasive that 70% of people polled by Reuters/NBC actually believe that Gore would have won a fair count. This is FAR from a certainty and I believe that the evidence STRONGLY suggests otherwise. Among the counties ordered to do hand recounts in the final ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, Bush received 400,000 more votes than Gore. In the other county (Miami-Dade) where a partial hand count had already been done, Bush held an advantage in the districts yet to be counted (and, in fact, had picked up about 54 votes there when the U.S. Supreme Court halted the recount). Of the 17 counties yet to be counted with either significant percentages or numbers of "under-votes," 12 of those were counties that Bush won easily, 3 were won by Gore and 2 were basically a tie. While much was made of almost 2,000 under-votes in black districts in Duval county, that still left over 3,000 in the rest of that county which went heavily for Bush. Depending on what standard was used to define a "vote," independent statisticians have estimated that Gore's chances of picking up enough votes to win was somewhere between one in a million, and one in 5,000.

BTW, the Orlando Sentinel just reported that Gore "picked up" 130 votes in Lake County in their "independent" count, but these were OVER-VOTES that even the Florida Supreme Court never ordered looked at and BY NO STANDARD are considered legal. Just because it is "clear" whom a voter intended to vote for, does not mean that they cast a legal ballot. My guess is that when these newspaper counts are completed that it will be deemed that Bush would have won a strict (legal) recount, but Gore would have won a more liberal (illegal) recount.

-- "Al Gore won more votes nationwide."

This is a myth that may actually be true. When it was being used to somehow strengthen Gore's "moral authority" to pursue legal remedies, it was not true at all because well over a million absentee ballots had yet to be counted in states that were not too close to call. There were rumors that California, for instance decided not to count over a million absentee ballots at all. Apparently they have now done so and Gore probably did indeed win the popular vote. However, had winning the POPULAR VOTE been the goal of the campaign I believe that Bush would have won that as well because he won more states where turnout was low (because Bush was certain to win) than Gore did.

-- "David Boies is a great attorney and almost won the Presidency for Al Gore."

Not only did Boies lie to the Florida Supreme Court at least twice (and both times they swallowed whole), but Boies may have done two things that actually cost his client his best chance at the White House. First, Boies (along with others) decided to only pursue hand recounts in four heavily Democratic counties, which, in the end, cost them valuable time. Secondly, when asked by the Florida Supreme Court if December 12th was indeed the "drop dead" date for counting, he said, "yes it is." It was on this basis that the U.S. Supreme Court ended up decided that there was no time left for a hand recount that was constitutional.

-- "Everyone acted in a purely partisan manner in this process."

I HATE the new definition and negative connotation of the word "partisan," because I believe that it insures (because it is assumed that no one tells the truth) that the bigger and best liar will always win. In this case there were MANY people who went against their "partisan" persuasions. Bush lead attorney Barry Richard is a Democrat. The attorney for Katherine Harris, Joe Block, is a Democrat. Katherine Harris' Chief Deputy (who was the very first to call on Gore to resign immediately after the Nov. 26th certification) is a Democrat. Florida Judges Terry Lewis, Sanders Sauls, Nikki Clark, all of whom ruled dramatically against Gore, are all Democrats. Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice, Charles Wells, who BLASTED his colleagues for sending the nation into a possible constitutional crisis, is a Democrat (as are the two others on that court who voted with him). Two Democratic members of the Florida Legislature voted to empanel a slate of Bush electors. Two liberals and two moderates on the U.S. Supreme Court voted that the hand counts were unconstitutional. Either the Republicans were on the side of "right" more often than not during this process, or Democrats make lousy partisans.

-- "The Florida and U.S. Supreme Courts were equally "partisan" and split in their final rulings."

If this was really the case, why was it that EVERYONE was SHOCKED by the Florida Supreme Court's overruling of Sanders Sauls (after they had ALREADY been chastised by the U.S. Supreme Court for overruling Terry Lewis), and NO ONE was surprised by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Florida Supreme Court had acted inappropriately? While the Florida court had three strong dissenters (all Democratic appointees), the highest court in the land voted 7-2 that the Florida remedy was clearly unconstitutional. But to me the ultimate proof that this is clearly a myth comes a look at the dissenting opinions in each decision.

The Florida court had its own Chief Justice decisively declare that the ruling was so egregious that it would not stand up to federal scrutiny, that it would send us into a constitutional crisis, and that it would permanently damage the reputation of the Florida Supreme Court as an institution. A few days later, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his MUCH quoted (and misinterpreted) dissent, "The identity of the loser (in this campaign) is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the law." At first, Stevens seems to be saying that the U.S. Supreme itself was not being impartial. However, what Stevens is REALLY saying here is that the federal court's ruling makes it look like the FLORIDA SUPREME COURT'S ruling was not impartial and, instead, politically motivated. In short, Stevens is saying that his court should not have made the Florida court look so bad because it undermines the confidence of the public in the court system as a WHOLE, not necessarily the U.S. Supreme Court in particular.

-- "It was inconsistent for conservative "state's rights" justices on the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the hand recounts and overrule the Florida Supreme Court."

This myth really bothers me because I have heard hardly anyone dispute it, even though it is absolutely false. While I can understand how some observers (especially those who are nitwits and who WANT to come to a certain conclusion) can conclude that "state's rights' judges who end up "determining" the results of a state election are being hypocritical, I believe that makes their claims no less bogus. The CORE belief of a "state's rights" (strict constructionist) judge is that the courts have no authority to violate the separation of powers by legislating from the bench. Quite simply, what the "conservatives" on the U.S. Supreme Court did was to stop a renegade court from creating new law (for the second time in two weeks) that just happened to benefit a candidate (for a FEDERAL position) who is a member of the same political party as the all of their members (three of which strongly dissented). In my view, it would be difficult to find a case of overturning a state court MORE consistent with the "conservative" judicial philosophy than this one. You can argue that the 5 "conservatives" (really 3 conservatives and 2 moderates, isn't amazing how O'Connor and Kennedy suddenly became conservatives in the media's eyes?) were wrong in their ruling, but you cannot say that they were inconsistent and therefore purely political.

-- "Al Gore could not have been more gracious in his concession speech."

While I was mildly surprised at what a good speech Gore gave, it certainly could have been more gracious and I am not sure that he deserves, or will receive (except from bleeding heart liberal media types like Chris Matthews) all that much credit for it. There were at least three moments in Gore's much-praised farewell (for now) address that I thought were clearly inappropriate. The first was rather subtle and missed by almost everyone. Gore quoted the defeated Stephan Douglas as saying to Abraham Lincoln, "Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I'm with you Mr. President, and God bless you." Gore then said, "In that same spirit…. May God bless his STEWARDSHIP of this country." It may seem like nitpicking to criticize Gore for not "blessing" Bush him self, but if it is no big deal then why didn't Gore just say that? Then Gore made it a point of empathizing that he "STRONGLY disagreed" with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. To me, the word "strongly" seemed pointless and petty and should have been saved to a later date after things had calmed down (and not just two paragraphs after he had called for the partisan rancor to end). Finally, while Gore did offer his "concession," it was not because he was admitting he lost. According to his speech, he was conceding "for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy." If that was really so important to him why didn't he concede weeks earlier? To me, you should not give someone "credit" for acting virtuously if they have no other viable alternative. Conceding the election after one of your own lawyers (Lawrence Tribe) and the head of your own party (Ed Rendell) have called on you to do so is not an act of grace and courage, but rather one of necessity. I guess one of the realities of modern living is that we so rarely see true grace and courage and are so desperate for it that even a poor facsimile can easily pass for the real thing.

Return to Editorials >>


Search JohnZiegler.com