Send in the clowns.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court reversed the Florida Supreme Court, which had ordered a hand count of all of Florida's counties. Seven justices found equal-protection problems with the manual recount, with two dissenters arguing that Florida could overcome its equal-protection problems.
Now comes the hysteria. Take attorney Alan Dershowitz, referred to by one Republican wag as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party. Before the decision, Dershowitz weighed in on the Republican attempt, as some put it, to "steal" the election. After Florida's vote certification, Dershowitz accused George W. Bush of beginning "a legal coup d'etat in suit and tie, defying the rule of law and saying 'I am anointing myself as president, I'm sending my transition team to Washington.'"
Oh, sure, Republican former vice-presidential candidate Jack Kemp accused Florida's liberal justices of attempting "a judicial coup d'etat," and stated that "the public is experiencing a lesson in the danger of judicial tyranny as exemplified in the Florida Supreme Court." But the steam coming from the left puts the Republican rhetoric to shame.
The National Organization for Women's Patricia Ireland, with her customary sensitivity, bellowed during a pro-Gore rally, "You know Bush and Cheney, they need a brain and a heart." Pardon me, didn't Cheney just suffer a heart attack? Just asking.
But for throw-kerosene-on-the-fire irresponsible rhetoric, we once
again turn to Rev. Jesse Jackson: "Today we stand surrounded, Jeb Bush on one hand, Miss Harris on the other, George W. and Cheney comin' from behind, the Supreme Court of Florida. But we will not surrender. Our hopes are alive. Our dreams are alive. Our faith is alive. God will see us through. It's dark, but the morning comes. Don't let them break your spirit."
Chris Lehane, spokesman for Vice President Al Gore, compared Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris to a Soviet "commissar" and labeled her a Bush "lackey," and Dershowitz referred to her as a "crook," "corrupt," and "a functionary of the Republican Party."
Democrats frequently criticize the Republican Party, given the influence of "fanatics" like the Christian Coalition or the NRA. But Dershowitz and Jackson reveal the strength of the Democratic Party's extremists. If the NRA possesses undue influence over the Republicans, what about trial lawyers, from whom the Democratic Party received $2.7 million in so-called soft money last year? Small wonder that cries for "tort reform" fall deaf on Democratic ears.
Jackson personifies another dimension of the Democratic Party -- its reliance on the monolithic black vote, a group that went 90 percent for Gore. This puts enormous pressure on Democrats to think in lockstep about issues like affirmative action and "racial profiling." Up next? A growing number of black leaders, like TransAfrica's Randall Robinson and Harvard lawyer Charles Ogletree, demand reparations for slavery. How can the Democratic Party look them in the face and say, "Dude, it's 2000. Get over it"?
Indeed, Gore routinely played the race card during the campaign. Before black church audiences, he criticized Justice Clarence Thomas, and likened his battle against George W. Bush to a struggle between good versus evil. "Deep within us," said Gore, "we each have the capacity for good and for evil. I am taught that good overcomes evil, if we choose that outcome. I feel it coming."
The 5-4 Supreme Court decision left liberals crying "foul." After all, this court struck down portions of gun control measures and laws like the Violence Against Women Act on the grounds that they interfere with states' rights. How can a pro-states'-rights court strike down the Florida Supreme Court's 4-3 decision granting Gore more time for manual recounts?
As the court said in its majority decision, "The right to vote is protected in more than the initial allocation of the franchise. Equal protection applies as well to the manner of its exercise. Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the state may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another." In other words, the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution cannot allow dimpled chads to be counted as a vote in one county, and not in another.
Both sides reduced their arguments to a single mantra. The Democrats said, "Let every vote count." Republicans said, "Don't change the rules after you play the game." Would the Republicans, as many say, have acted the same way under reversed circumstances? We'll never know, but Republicans passed on opportunities to attack razor-thin Gore margins of victory in Oregon, Iowa, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
Yes, both sides wanted to win. But the Bush position was, and remains, morally superior. But no matter. For, immediately after the Supreme Court decision, California Democratic Party campaign adviser Bob Mulholland declared the election "hijacked."
So, send in the clowns. Don't bother -- they're here.