Thomas Sowell

As for George W. Bush's legitimacy, there have been four men in this century who became president without getting a single vote for that office -- Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford -- and nobody questioned their legitimacy. They became president because of procedures prescribed by the Constitution of the United States -- and so did George W. Bush. The only difference is that Bush also had more than 49 million popular votes and 271 votes in the electoral college.

Hitler and Goebbels said that the people will believe any lie, if it is big enough and repeated often enough, loud enough. Now we are seeing that principle being applied in this country, with repeated assertions that Gore "really" won the popular vote in Florida but his votes just were not all counted. Yet those who are saying that have never demanded that votes be counted in Republican counties the same way that they were counted -- under the Florida Supreme Court's orders -- in selected Democratic counties. Early on, Gore rejected a statewide manual recount, for fear of losing.

Seven of the nine justices of the U. S. Supreme Court voted that the Florida Supreme Court's actions were unconstitutional. The only disagreement among these seven was whether it was already too late to try to hold a statewide manual recount, in view of approaching deadlines. Five said it was and two thought it wasn't. That is how the 5 to 4 vote emerged on the remedy.

But it was 7 to 2 that the Florida Supreme Court was wrong.

Yet most media people have raised no question about the Florida Supreme Court's legitimacy. No one except the U.S. Supreme Court asked where the Florida justices got the authority to take over the job of the election officials designated by the state law to make decisions on election procedures. Few in the media said anything about the dangerous precedent of a state court intervening in a federal election to create a one-sided way of selecting a President of the United States. It is Alice in Wonderland.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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