Public Eye 

Ever since the election dangled in the balance over the contested vote in Florida, I've had a secret Christmas wish: That George W. Bush would ascend to the presidency via the edict of a Republican-dominated Supreme Court and the dubious mandate of a flawed and even corrupt Florida electoral system.

I suspect many Democrats (of which I am not one) were nervously wishing for the same. The prospect of their man Gore moving into the White House after a chain of lawsuits and appeals, however legitimate, would leave the Democratic candidate impotent at best, impeached at worst.

Meanwhile, the Miami Herald, which has won numerous awards for its investigations of voting fraud, will count the Florida ballots, to do the work left undone by Florida's Republican secretary of state and Bush operative Katherine Harris. Then the results, so feared by the Bush junta, will be known to the nation. If it puts Gore in the lead, then the nation will see the Bush presidency as a fraud. If Bush remains on top, then there are still numerous irregularities casting doubt on even that result.

In the coming months, for example, we may learn more about the illegal, behind-the-scenes ballot application tampering in two Florida counties by Republican officials. Without this sneaky secretive work, which Democrats could not observe for fairness, Gore would have won the election.

And the media is descending on another story that casts further suspicion on the Bush reign. Shady and shoddy work by a Republican consulting firm led to the disenfranchisement of hundreds and possibly thousands of registered voters in mostly African-American precincts who were mistakenly identified as convicted "felons."

These issues will, I hope, mobilize not only much-needed election reform. It will energize rank-and-file Democratic voters who might be just a little pissed that, in this day and age, a Republican governor can seal a very questionable presidential election for his brother.

Meanwhile, this week, the media is by and large accepting the "can't we all just get along?" spin being proffered by politicians after Gore's concession speech. The stand-by-me tone was hardly questioned by CNN host Larry "Average Joe" King when he interviewed Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and Louisiana Democratic Sen. John Breaux, among others, just after Gore's address.

Like other media roundtables, the King interviews were a veritable lovefest, with each side trying to out-hug their opponents.

How about we just cut the crap? Bush's message of unity is about as sincere as his feeling for equal protection under the law and his recent offer of a cabinet post to Breaux. Such a move would inevitably lead to a senate majority for Republicans since Louisiana's republican governor would appoint Breaux's replacement. No doubt Dubya forgot that fact in the passion of his own magnanimity.

In the meantime, as Bush does the rounds hugging Democrats, he's all but dropped any real bipartisan agenda, promising instead to bully through a trillion-dollar tax cut though the proposal was a key issue of contention in the election. Election reform? No mention. Campaign finance reform? Forget it. Prescription drugs benefits? Later.

Instead, the candidate who talked about "humility" during the campaign is now on Capitol Hill speaking as if his election held a mandate for his campaign. The only reason W. is moving on up to the East Side is because a candidate far to the left of Gore managed to narrowly spoil things for the former Tennessee Senator, who won the nationwide popular vote.

What liberal media? If ever there was a case for the need of a liberal media machine, the 2000 election was it. For all the orchestrated whining from the right wing about the supposed liberal bias in the mainstream press, most mainstream media venues, even supposedly liberal National Public Radio, include opposing voices, from left and right of center.

The right-wing media machine feels no such obligation. The closest thing to an opposing voice on Rush Limbaugh's show is the occasional challenging caller who Limbaugh can silence with the turn of a knob. Can you name one outspoken, true liberal who has a nationally syndicated TV and radio show dedicated to exclusively anti-conservative, anti-Republican vitriol and pro-Democrat screed?

Speaking of Rush, recent programs have featured ads for an Al Gore wristwatch that shows the arms of the defeated VP stuffing ballot boxes. For some strange reason, the company didn't manufacture a corresponding George Bush watch. What kind of timepiece would symbolize Shrub's stance toward voting? A watch with 57.5 seconds in every minute, symbolizing the four percent of presidential votes undercounted in Palm Beach County? A stopwatch that stops counting as long as Bush's in the lead?

-- malcolm@csindy.com


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