It's been a long, exhausting week. If you're like us, you may be having feverish nightmares about counting ballots and flashing electoral maps. And you wake up confused about the intricacies of Florida election law and the ramifications of "pregnant chads." You keep listening to press conferences with Governor Bush's many lackeys, and it seems they repeatedly contradict themselves. Could it be? What follows is a rundown of the Bush campaign's arguments -- in all their shameless glory:
"When the election looks like it's going Gore's way, everyone should hold their horses and wait for the real numbers. When the election looks like it's going Bush's way, it's time to get on with the transition."
After the networks called the states of Florida and Pennsylvania for Al Gore, George W. Bush went on television proclaiming, "[T]he networks called this thing awfully early." He then sermonized, "I'm going to wait for them to count that and call the votes, and I think America ought to wait before they count all the votes, too." However, as the recounts have continued and Florida has waited for the last of the overseas absentee ballots to arrive, numerous advisers -- and the Governor himself -- have declared themselves the winners and accused Gore of being an attempted election thief.
"When a group of people is known to be liberal and Jewish, who are we to say that they wouldn't vote for the arch-conservative, near-neo-Nazi Pat Buchanan? When a group of people tends to vote Republican by a relatively small margin, we can assume without counting their votes that they support George W. Bush."
Palm Beach County residents have charged that the ballot was confusing enough to cause many residents to accidentally vote for Pat Buchanan thinking they were voting for Al Gore. In the overwhelmingly Democratic, overwhelmingly Jewish county, Buchanan did receive several thousand votes -- far more than he received in any other county. The Bush campaign has a simple explanation: "Palm Beach County is a Pat Buchanan stronghold and that's why Pat Buchanan received 3,407 votes there."
While the Bush campaign was willing to believe that thousands of Jews would vote for a notorious anti-Semite, it seems sure it can predict the votes of the overseas absentee voters, though their ballots have not been counted. As campaign spokeswoman Karen Hughes declared that Bush had already won Florida, and thus, the election, she claimed, "The only votes left to be counted are the overseas absentee ballots, which in the past have favored Republican candidates."
"When Al Gore supports law suits (filed by independent citizens) calling for an accurate recount in Florida, he's being a sore loser and forcing the country into a constitutional crisis. When the Bush campaign files a lawsuit to halt a recount that might go Gore's way, he's protecting every American's right to due process."
After voters brought suit charging that the Palm Beach County ballot was illegally confusing, the Gore campaign announced it supported their suit. On Friday, campaign representative James Baker III huffed, "The purpose of our national election is to establish a 'constitutional government,' not unending legal wrangling . . . For the good of the country and the sake of our standing in the world, the campaigning should end, and the business of an orderly transition should begin."
The next day, the Bush campaign filed its own lawsuit attempting to halt the recount. Explaining their legal wrangling, one Bush operative pontificated that the manual recount, "violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution of the United States, and every citizen's right to due process . . . Every person in this country is entitled to have their vote valued and weighted equally and to be counted by persons who do not have an interest in the outcome."
The suit prompted even conservative pit bull Richard Lowry to call the legal argument "weak" and the move a "desperation tactic." The federal court must have agreed, because on Monday, the judge ruled against the Bush campaign, allowing the recount to continue.
"Hand recounts are a terribly-flawed system, open to error and corruption. Except in Texas, where they're the most accurate measure of the vote."
Bush campaign staffers whipped themselves into a fury over the manual recount. James Baker III charged, "the more often ballots are recounted, especially by hand, the more likely it is that human errors, like lost ballots, and other risks, will be introduced. This frustrates the very reason why we have moved from hand counting to machine counting." In fact, Governor Bush signed a law in 1997 stating that, "A manual recount shall be conducted in preference to an electronic recount."
"George W. Bush wants to give the power back to the states and local communities. Except when it comes to elections Bush might lose. In which case the right thing to do is have the campaign try to overturn state and local elections procedures in federal court."
Governor Bush ran for president on a platform of taking power away from the federal government and giving it back to the states, local communities, and the people. He slammed his opponent for relying on the federal government. Yet in this election, the Bush campaign chose to file suit in federal court to stop Florida counties from holding manual recounts.
"When a Clinton-appointed judge rules that a Bush campaign lawsuit is meritless, he is a partisan hack. When an arch-Republican Bush campaign co-chairwoman decides to cut off the Florida recount, she is fairly interpreting the law."
After the Bush campaign chose to file suit in federal court, and federal judge Donald Middlebrooks refused to halt the manual recount, a Bush ally went on television, charging that Middlebrooks' ruling was biased because he is a Clinton appointee.
The same day, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris declared that Florida law requires that all counties report their final vote tallies by 5 p.m. on November 14 -- or forfeit their right to have their votes count in the state's total. Harris is a member of Florida Governor Jeb Bush's cabinet, was a co-chair of George W. Bush's presidential campaign, and was a Republican delegate who helped nominate Bush for president. Of Harris' pronouncement, Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said, "That's not a subjective decision -- that is an objective decision based on the laws of Florida."
And if you believe all that, we've got some beachfront property in New Mexico to sell you -- the most scenic spot on earth. Did we say New Mexico was the most scenic? What we meant was, boy have we got an idyllic Rocky Mountain home in Florida. And it's all for you . . . cheap.