Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mr. Obama: Get yourself some GOOD lawyers

Eric Alterman on the 2000 elections:

Shortly before the September 11 attacks, a Gallup Organization poll found that nearly half of Americans surveyed remain convinced that President Bush either "won on a technicality" or "stole the election." They were right, though this would have been difficult to discern based on the coverage the eventual release of the recount report received. The headlines read: "Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote" (New York Times) and "Florida Recounts Would Have Favored Bush" (Washington Post). These were misleading at best. What the NORC researchers really discovered was the Gore legal team's incredible incompetence. The lawyers happened, it turned out, to choose just about the only counting argument that would have lost Gore the election even had the court ruled in his favor. Lead member David Boies had explicitly ruled out a more inclusive recount of Florida's votes -- one that not only would have elected his man, but would have been immeasurably more fair to the people of Florida. Instead Boies asked the court to count "undervotes" but not "overvotes." Using that method, Bush did indeed outpoll Gore and the court's intervention did not ultimately make a difference. It was, perhaps, a perfect coda to a perfectly awful campaign.

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