By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
"Those who cast the votes decide nothing.
Those who count the votes decide everything."
Its all almost over. President George "Dubya" Bush.
I could have lived with whatever decision was handed down by the United
States Supreme Court. As regular readers are aware, I have my preference. But, I buy the
sanctity of the institution of the Sups and believe the Justices offered their
honest interpretation even though I wish I could call "two out of three."
One of the many graphic emails going around poking fun at the Florida Election. Choose
the sticker of your liking.
Sadly, the Supreme Court Justices reflect the
right-leaning Presidents who appointed the majority of them. (By way of explanation,
"right-leaning" defines their identity on the political spectrum and in no way
reflects "correctness.") And more sadly, were likely, in the next four
years, of George "Dubya" to get a couple of more "right-leaners." It
is here where the true legacy of Presidents can be felt. A more conservative court will
have social and political impact for years beyond the presidents term. I worry about
our personal freedoms when the likes of Jim Baker are back into power. Im not
convinced Jims "leader," George "Dubya" Bush, is either a leader
or capable of making sound judgments on a level sophisticated enough to encompass all the
variables and historic ramifications. I believe Bush, our next President, relies too
heavily on his advisors and those of his father.
But, with that tirade over, when the Court speaks, I buy into it. And
as of this writing, Im fairly certain that it is all over for the Gore guys. So we
gotta get used to "Dubya."
I buy it, if it comes from the Supreme Court!
I wont, cant and you shouldnt if it was the act of
the Florida legislature. It would be outrageous for the legislature to attempt to assert
its will while the judicial process runs its course. The partisanship demonstrated in
Tallahassee is the stuff that gives American politicians the name, politicians.
Dan Conley, a former speech-writer for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley
(another great example of American politicians) and Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder spun an
interesting scenario on the salon.com website.
His is a theoretical reaction to what would have happened had the
Florida legislature, without court sanction, selected electors of their choice. Conley
suggests other states could follow suit and give the election to Al Gore.
According to Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, State
legislatures do have a constitutional right to choose electors for President. However, had
the Florida legislature proceeded, ignoring the existing legal challenges, according to
the salon.com article, "it would remove the only obstacle tradition
that prevents Democrats from taking similar action."
Great ideas are stolen from creative people. Thanx to my friend Dan
Rattiner, Editor & Publisher of Dans Papers in the Hamptons for
Attention: Tribune readers,
friends, elected officials make your predictions!
What will 2001 bring? I thought Id
ask you. Send me your predictions for the coming year and I will share as many as possible
in our pre-New Years edition.
As Dan said, "Nothing you say is
confidential and everything will be held against you."
Please email to me at:
MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com or fax to:
718-357-0972 or by mail: 174-15 Horace Harding Expwy,
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365.
Now, this might be a bit far fetched,
but so would the Florida legislatures premature action: The article identifies five
states won by Bush but controlled by Dem governors and legislatures who would be within
their "legal" rights to select Gore electors. Even
if these states chose to not give all their electors to Gore but merely divide the
electors proportionally by Congressional District won in the state as does Maine and
Nebraska, Gore would gain 17 electoral votes: "five in Georgia; four each in Missouri
and North Carolina; and two in Alabama and Mississippi."
Republicans have only two such states
(Republican governor and legislature) in which to retaliate Michigan and New
Jersey. However, the numbers arent there for the GOP. Could the Bush campaign mount
a meaningful challenge to such
action while defending legislative action in Florida?
Ah, you say, "What about
Congress?" They determine which electors ultimately get seated. However, the new
Senate is composed of 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats a tie is broken by the
presiding officer, Vice President Al Gore. One would expect the Republican House of
Representatives to try to seat Bush electors while the Gore tie breaking Senate would
logically go for Gore.
If youve been tuned into this
craziness since Election Day, you know when Congress cant resolve which elector
slate to seat, the states governor ultimately makes the determination.
No, were not thinking of Jeb Bush in
Florida, although should it go to Congress, Jeb ultimately might end up designating the
slate of electors for his brother.
Conleys article then hammered it all
home. "But if Democrats choose to retaliate in the legislatures, similar choices may
be up to Democratic governors Bob Holden (Missouri), Don Siegelman (Alabama), Roy Barnes
(Georgia), Ronnie Musgrove (Mississippi) and Mike Easley (North Carolina)."
Should the Florida legislature interfere
with the process before all legal challenges are exhausted, Conley suggests it would
render "every future presidential election outcome with a margin of less than 1
percent fair game for legislative meddling and partisan, state-by-state retaliation."
No, its not going to happen. This is
merely one well-conceived, rather bizarre scenario that is an outgrowth of the loss of
civility of our political process. Each year, each election, each political conflict seems
to become more and more mean spirited and divisive. Politics is no longer a philosophical
process where ideologies battle and balance for the common good. It has become a war where
people do battle for power and the spoils.
No wonder we are all skeptical.
Congratulations, Mr. Bush. We look forward
to a rich American language for the next four years.
We wish you well.
My Ballot My
This years election has had an interesting effect on our readers.
To respond and react, the folks of Queens have taken to verse. Heres PRESS reader Ed
Millers take on the Florida craziness:
My Ballot - My Vote
I did my duty,
And went to vote,
Cast my ballot
As if by rote.
I used the stylus,
Must have been dull,
Didnt punch through,
My vote was null.
I thought I voted,
It was a lie,
Punched the wrong hole
On the butterfly.
I marked my ballot,
Changed my mind,
Couldnt correct it,
If my candidate won,
It must have counted
But Ill never know
My choice was mounted.
What trust can I have
That Democracy works,
If the election process
Is so full of quirks.
Ed Miller, Jamaica
Spoke this past week to Morty Povman and
Jeff Gottlieb. They were reacting to my gentle mini-tirade on the use of public funds to
further political candidacies.
Both Morty and Jeff agreed with the points
I made in last weeks column and have assured me that Gottliebs candidacy for
the City Council will be kept away from Povmans Council office.
Jeff, as we stated last week, is running to
succeed Povman in the Council in the 2001. In this race are Borough Halls Barry
Grodenchik, Weprin Club President Jim Gennaro, and David Reich from the staff of a
Brooklyn state senator.
Last night, civic activist Morshed Alam
informed us that he too was in this race. At least for the moment, that makes five real
Were not sure all five Dems will stay
in, but what we are witnessing is a rejuvenated interest in public service brought about
by term limits.
Even though we have had our doubts about
term limits, attracting new blood to the political process is a positive thing.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com