It is not a huge stretch of pessimistic imagination to predict that this upcoming presidential election in the United States is likely to become a legal clusterfuck eclipsing the 2000 election debacle. No matter which candidate appears to win the election on November 2nd, I fear George Bush or John Kerry will unfortunately carry a scarlet letter of illegitimacy into their presidency. In the eyes of almost half of the population of the United States, either candidate will serve their term as president under a cloud of invalidity that will rival only that of Interim Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi in Iraq.
These angry supporters of the losing candidate aren't likely to launch mortars into the green zone encompassing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. No, they will wage war the civilized way. They will hire an army of lawyers and file lawsuits -- many, many lawsuits -- in every court they possibly can.
I'm not the only grouchy, pessimistic person prophesying doom. George Washington University Law School Professor and Legal Affairs editor for the The New Republic, Jeffrey Rosen, highlights the upcoming legal scenario that could be played out in court rooms all over America.
It's November 2, and the presidential election looks close in Ohio. An army of lawyers are dispatched by the Bush and Kerry campaigns to scour all 11,614 precincts in the state for any hint of voting irregularities. Within hours, both sides have filed competing suits in state courts challenging the standards for counting provisional, absentee, and military ballots, as well as for the use of different voting machines. Within days, Laurence Tribe and James Baker are filing petitions to the Supreme Court, arguing that Bush v. Gore--the case that decided the 2000 election--compels the justices to intervene. The justices, who once confidently predicted that Bush v. Gore would have no effect on future elections, are horrified. Even the Bush v. Gore dissenters are shocked at the mess the decision has created. After all, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Bush v. Gore a "one-of-a-kind case" as recently as February 2003 in a speech to San Diego law students, adding optimistically, "I doubt it will ever be cited as precedent by the court on anything."
Unfortunately, the hopes that Bush v. Gore would fade from memory like an embarrassing dinner guest have proved to be wildly mistaken. And, if the election is close, the nightmare scenario described above seems all too likely to come to pass.
Call it a nightmare scenario. I just choose to call it a post-election clusterfuck.
"What do you think? Donald Duck is going to decide it?"
Stories of voter registration irregularites, voter intimidation, or what I simply call ballot bullying are already flying out from both candidate's campaign camps faster than Girl Scouts running and screaming through the woods in the middle of the night because a grizzly bear in the tent is raiding all the good boxes of cookies.
Although hundreds of court rooms all over the country could be jammed with individual lawsuits based upon ballot bullying, the final outcome of the 2004 presidential election could easily be in front of the Supreme Court to decide -- again. According to John Hanna of AP news, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is hopeful that it won't come to that again.
When asked about the prospect of more litigation over the 2004 vote, Thomas said, "I would prefer not to have to decide it, but that joins a long list of things," adding: "It's my job."
Personally, I hope the Supreme Court doesn't have to select the next president this year either. I didn't care much for their choice the first time around in 2000.
I was sitting there with RNC chairman Ed Gillispie after eating a dinner that he kindly put on his Bush Cheney 2004 American Express Gold Card, picking the remnants of the filet mignon I had just eaten out of my teeth, when I asked him how he planned to win in the battleground state of Florida and get its 27 electoral votes.
"That's going to be easy," he said as he sipped on his Jack Daniels.
"But 2000 was a nail biter and you had Jeb ..." I started to interject.
"We got it covered. Don't worry. We have a bigger budget," he said as he unconsciously twirled the AMEX card around in his fingers. He continued, "We have sophisticated demographic databases, paid and volunteer action teams, and we know who to target."
He finished his drink off and swirled the ice around in his glass as he said, "You see, unlike the big cities on either coast where I couldn't pay the bravest Bush supporter to go in and disrupt a polling place in an inner city ghetto, Florida is a totally different scenario. Sure, it might get messy. People expect that. But, we've been working on this for some time and we do still have Jeb."
"You know, it's funny," he chuckled, "Voters in the U.S. aren't likely to hear about that anyway."
He continued, "People in the U.S. think everyone in the United Kingdom is on-board with the president 100 percent. Tony Blair tells them so. When he speaks, it gets played on the news. Hell, when a couple hundred Scots go to Iraq, we run stories about their 250 year old fighting tradition."
"You mean, like the Don't Forget About Poland thing?" I asked.
"Yeah, but even better. We've blocked the Bush-Cheney web site from those pesky, dentally-challenged Brits and we've got Bush supporters in the middle of our country thanking Jesus that the Highlander is on our side in Iraq, now".
I've been reading Brandon Starr's top ten non-policy reasons not to vote for George W. Bush.
Reason #10: Bush is lazy. Reason #9: Bush is careless with his words. Reason #8: Bush is super-secretive, to a dangerous level. Reason #7: Bush is incapable of changing his mind.
There is a place where flip-flopping is a highly celebrated activity. Recently, Helleena and members of her family on vacation spent the day at Sea World. Because it was the generally accepted notion that I would become exceedlingly grouchy trying to drag myself around a theme park all day long, I spent the day babysitting the broken kitty who also faces the same ambulatory challenges as I do.
I appreciate everyone on the main blogdrive tag board who kept me company and ultimately named the broken kitty, too. Skiddy is an appropriate name.
Here are a few dialup-friendly pix from Sea World.
With less than two weeks left before the United States elects a new president and determines the direction of the most powerful economic and military entity on this particular spinning ball of mud that we lovingly call Earth, a great number of people are interested in foretelling the outcome of this event.
Personally, I have been staring intently at my own childhood clairvoyant device -- the Magic 8 ball -- for some sign or answer when my own impatience overtakes me.
Other more exceptable methods of foretelling the future outcome of the 2004 Presidential Election are employed by various groups of people and their organizations. They simply ask people.
Asking people, or polling them, can be trickier than you would first imagine, however. As I tried to point out in Town Hall Tap Dance, after the Second Presidential Debate, who you ask does matter.
Every major news and media outlet conducts polling by phone and internet. My only instinct regarding their polling data is that it is likely to reflect their own audience's political tendencies. A FOX or CBS news poll is only likely to enlighten you to the views or political opinions already held by their core audiences. Does it really matter if they add leaners, likely voters, or independent voters to their polling sample?
Even still, with the race being so close, or tight, or evenly split, any delta-V in the polling data instantly becomes news here in the U.S, and then is parroted in various newspapers across the globe. Recently in the news cycle is Nickelodeon's polling result that apparently shows kids prefer John Kerry.
Seriously, who needs to listen to Rasmussen, Zogby or Gallup polling when your candidate has sweeped the Nickelodeon demographic? Don't be lulled in complacency or apathy if you do want some change in the United States. Get off your ass and vote for your candidate. If you're tired of the same old DNC-donkey and RNC-elephant, I'm sorry. Despite my own admiration for Ralph Nader and Michael Badnarik, it appears that the only place that a third party political species has any chance to win an election is on Disney's ToonTown.
Although he was unavailable for comment, Donald Rumsfeld's Commander in Chief has apparently also lost the Vulcan Vote.
The United States has been a house divided since George W. Bush took office four years ago and no matter who wins this upcoming election, my Magic 8 Ball doesn't predict any change in the political and cultural divisions that define and shape this great nation.