By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
This game of appearances also works against the Republicans, however, if they should feel Florida slipping from their grasp and move for recounts in other states. If Florida goes for Gore, the Republicans must petition for recounts in Wisconsin, New Mexico and Oregon: Only by reversing Gore’s narrow victory in all three states could Bush then get to 269 electoral votes, creating a tie in the Electoral College and throwing the election into the House. But Oregon law mandates that a recount be conducted entirely by hand, which would make the Bush campaign look perfectly ridiculous after it has spent the past week arguing with increasing venom that hand recounts are the greatest threat to American democracy since Josef Stalin.
Which is to say, if the hand recounts are upheld and end up giving Florida to Gore, the Bush forces probably can‘t rely on either the courts or the other states to save them. At that point, it’s up to the legislative branch to throw the election to Bush. If Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris balks at certifying a Gore slate of electors, the Florida Legislature -- both houses of which are controlled by the GOP -- could decide to substitute itself for the state‘s voters. By the terms of an obscure federal law, if no slate of electors is certified by December 12, the legislature may appoint a slate of its own liking. An equally obscure federal law gives Congress the authority to reject the vote of electors if it deems that vote ”not regularly given,“ whatever that means. This would require a majority vote by both House and Senate, and as of this writing, it’s not clear whether the Senate will have a 51-49 Republican margin or be divided evenly.
Who, then, would be the less legitimate president -- Al, son of Albert, or George, son of George? Republicans are already threatening to be the terrors of the earth should Gore prevail; and certainly, they‘ve been working the illegitimacy angle longer than the Dems. For right-wing rank-and-filers and for the yahoo cabal that heads up the House GOP, Bill Clinton was never America’s legitimate president. House Republican leader Dick Armey repeatedly called Clinton ”your president“ when talking to Democrats, and now threatens that congressional Republicans will either boycott or refuse to stand during a Gore inaugural. The polling is showing that roughly a quarter of all voters would consider Bush an illegitimate president, but that around 40 percent would feel that way toward Gore. That is, the illegitimacy of Al is a belief that unifies nearly all Republicans. Somehow, the very thought of a Gore presidency has come to signify for them their continuing inability to drive a stake through Bill Clinton‘s heart; it is prima facie evidence of Satan’s meddling in the affairs of men.
Look at the polling, listen to the talk shows, factor in the Democrats‘ normal irresolution, and you can only conclude that a Bush presidency would encounter fewer challenges to its very existence than would Gore’s. But I wonder. If Gore prevails in the hand recounts, he‘ll have the authority of the courts to justify his rule, and Americans are accustomed to viewing the courts as the rightful arbiters of constitutional conflict. If Bush then prevails over those courts, however, it will be by virtue of the maneuvering, in plain view, of the same congressional leadership that brought us impeachment and the government shutdown of 1996. Just let the congressional GOP take control of the presidential election, and I guarantee you: Tepid Democrats, PTA presidents and soccer moms will sit whenever W. enters the room, and soon become as loony as Bob Barr.