LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- As I predicted last night and again early this morning, the post-debate news cycle has been largely consumed by Donald Trump's refusal to pledge to respect the outcome of November's election. His message was quickly repudiated by his campaign manager, running mate, and other key allies -- and Trump himself "clarified" his remarks early Thursday. While his partial walk-back is welcome, he inflicted this wound on himself live, in front of 70 million-plus debate viewers. Polling shows that an overwhelming majority of US voters believe candidates should pledge to abide by electoral outcomes, and Trump's answer played poorly with Frank Luntz's focus group of undecided voters. What to make of this whole brouhaha? I discussed that question on Fox News earlier this afternoon, via Right Sightings:
In short, I argued that there's no excuse for Donald Trump's reckless insinuations and assertions that the whole system is fraudulent and rigged against him -- and that many of the liberals proclaiming to be deeply scandalized by his conduct refuse to acknowledge to this day that President Bush won Florida in 2000, in spite of the incontrovertible evidence. Some forms of undermining the legitimacy of election results and eroding public faith in the system are more acceptable than others, it seems. Philip Klein's balanced column on this partisan food fight is worth your time. A taste:
Back in 2000, Election Day was on Nov. 7, and it wasn't until Dec. 13 that Gore, after more than a month of lawsuits culminating in a Supreme Court decision, acknowledged that George W. Bush would be the next president. As my colleague Tim Carney has pointed out, liberals did not accept the result of the election, with Democrats even calling it a "coup." Even those who now talk about how Trump's comments are undermining democracy still challenge the legitimacy of the 2000 election result. It's an article of faith that the Supreme Court handed Bush the election in a purely partisan decision, even though, as Tim has detailed, an exhaustive media recount of the Florida ballots showed that Bush still would have won. Despite this, Bush was routinely referred to as "president-select." And Hillary Clinton has not been innocent in this...All of this having been said, it would also be unfair to suggest that what Trump is doing right now is in any way equivalent to the situation in 2000. In 2000, controversy erupted after an election in which Gore won the popular vote and came within a few hundred votes in the deciding state, in which 6 million votes were cast. So in theory, small voting irregularities or the treatment of a tiny percentage of ballots could have tipped the balance of the election. Gore, himself, did eventually concede once the legal process had played out. This is a lot different from Trump. Weeks before Election Day, just as he started tanking in polls, Trump preemptively began talking about the election system being "rigged," portraying a vast, widespread, nationwide conspiracy to deny him the presidency. It's an election that Clinton is poised to win by millions of votes and over 100 electoral votes.
Klein notes that Mrs. Clinton has fueled the 'Gore won' conspiracy over the years, calling Bush "selected," and averring that "a court took away a presidency." That second quote comes from way back in...2016. And via Allahpundit, here's sitting Congresswoman and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schutz peddling the lie just last year:
They caterwaul that Trump's (admittedly toxic and baseless) preemptive excuse-making for his likely loss is tearing at the very fabric of our republic, yet they're the same people who've endlessly repeated the debunked mantra that a presidential election was stolen by Bush and unjustly rigged by the Supreme Court. But that's different. Because shut up. I'll leave you with two items: First, Hillary running down the embarrassing litany of circumstances in which Trump has shrieked "rigged" when things didn't go his way (likely part of the reason his temperament numbers are in the toilet), followed by Trump's unhinged election night tweetstorm rejecting the validity of the 2012 presidential results:
Reminder as Trump won't commit to accepting election results, this was Trump on election night 2012: pic.twitter.com/TeKhA6OnUK— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) October 20, 2016
Question: Did Romney "choke like a dog," or was he robbed by fraudsters, Donald? Also, based on a fair amount of evidence, the only thing Trump may have been right about on that list was the outcome of the FBI's email scandal investigation.