BUSH V. GORE
I do not want to get too far into the weeds of the Supreme Court’s decision in December of 2000. This spilt milk has already soured and dried in the annals of U.S. history. But thanks to my friend Dee Dee, I was sent this article written by Jeffrey Toobin (an American lawyer, author, and legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker), and it just got me imagining; “what if?”…
May 7, 2013
Justice O’Connor Regrets
Posted by Jeffrey Toobin
“Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired from the Supreme Court seven years ago, made some news the other day. In an interview with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, she expressed misgivings about one of the signature decisions of her judicial career: Bush v. Gore. ‘Maybe the Court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’ ‘ The case, she said, which effectively awarded the 2000 Presidential election to George W. Bush, ‘stirred up the public’ and ‘gave the Court a less than perfect reputation.’
It was not a full-fledged denunciation of the Court’s opinion, but it was a decided shift in O’Connor’s views. Ever since the decision in 2000, in which a five-Justice majority ended a recount of votes that had been ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, O’Connor has defended the result publicly. (She did so on “The Daily Show.”) I have heard O’Connor defend Bush v. Gore any number of times, at events ranging from law-school convocations to small dinner parties.
So what changed? The Republican Party—O’Connor’s Republican Party.”
This was for me an intriguing “time machine” puzzle. What if the Supreme Court had upheld the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to order a statewide recount, or as Justice O’Connor wondered aloud, what if they would have voted to just stay out of it (state’s rights, and all of that Republican rhetoric)?
As a good Democrat, I have always been of the opinion that had the Supreme Court stayed out of it, and a full statewide recount had proceeded, Gore would have won that election. For the record, however, that appears to have been wishful thinking on my part if the FactCheck.org article regarding a study done a year after the election is to be believed. “According to a massive months-long study commissioned by eight news organizations in 2001, George W. Bush probably still would have won even if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed a limited statewide recount to go forward as ordered by Florida’s highest court.” http://www.factcheck.org/2008/01/the-florida-recount-of-2000/
So, before I even play out my fantasy of a Gore 2000 win, I have to accept the mistaken view (which I have held all of these years) that Gore would have won were it not for the Supreme Court.
However, because I don’t want to screw up a perfectly good fantasy, I will proceed as if Sandra’s musing about the Supremes’ standing down on Bush v. Gore had come to pass, and that by some small miracle Al Gore had won Florida, by the smallest of margins, making him the 43rd President of the United States.
Personally, I think 9/11 would have likely happened no matter who was sitting in that new, barely warm, presidential chair a modest 8 months after he took office. It would take some other form of wishful thinking to believe that the new guys just coming into their jobs in the Gore Administration would have “connected the dots” any better than the new Bushwhackers did. As much as I would like to place 9/11 squarely in the lap of “W”, 9/11 was a system-wide failure that has taken years to repair and replace (at no small expense I might add).
With that huge assumption in place, imagine what the Republicans would have done with that Clinton/Gore 9/11 boondoggle in 2004. They almost certainly would have jammed that hysterical, I mean historical, fact up the backside of the Gore 2004 campaign as successfully as the Obama campaign did to McCain in 2008. I’m not sure Gore would have survived that onslaught in 2004.
One thing is for sure, however, a Gore Administration would have never invaded Iraq. To this very day, it remains a gaffe-and-a-half that George Jr. bought into Darth Cheney’s evil empire worldview about Iraq.
At the brand new George W. Bush Presidential Library, I appreciate that “W” will scold you if, when you are in the area called the “Decision Points Theater”, you select to not invade Iraq.
Unlike Rachael Maddow, however, I’d like to think “W” is compelled to remain as stupid as he looks, therefore, he continues to defend invading Iraq as his only choice; short of telling the U.S. military and the rest of the world that he was wrong of course. But George does not have it in him to admit such a huge mistake, so we get scolded in the “Decision Points Theater” if we choose to not invade Iraq; or as Jon Stewart calls it, “Disasterpiece Theater.”
I trust President Gore would have gone into Afghanistan, bitch-slapped the Taliban with a few million tons of weapons of mass destruction, and eventually hunted down and killed Bin Laden (taking a couple of years at least). The results of that would have been $200 billion dollars of spending, a couple hundred killed, and not the two trillion dollars (and counting) and almost 6,700 killed in Iraq and Afghanistan now.
The other thing I think we could have counted on from President Gore is a full-court-presidential-press on the issue of climate change. (I’ll give Al the benefit of the doubt that he would have had the good sense to back off of the term “global warming.”) Because of the science-deniers within the Republican Party, I’m not sure we would realistically be much further along than we are today. Because even if Gore had won, he still would have had to deal with a Republican Congress in both houses in 2001. Furthermore, President Gore would not have had the political juice to get the Kyoto Protocol through that Republican gauntlet.
The other fact that remains, if you will give me these few assumptions up to now, Al Gore would have almost certainly been a one term President. As I said, the Republicans would have convinced a majority of us that a President Bush would have never allowed 9/11 to happen, and they would have beaten that drum until we would have gone deaf. Had the military/C.I.A. caught and killed Bin Laden before the 2004 election, just maybe he would have had an outside chance of getting reelected, but even then I doubt it. Twelve years of Clinton then Gore would have left Americans looking for a change of pace, and because “W” would have come as close as he did in that elongated 2000 election, we would have seen that shit-eating grin again in 2004, and this time would have been the charm. Under that scenario he might have invaded the entire Middle East and Africa during the Arab Spring, putting us in an even bigger morass than he got us into in Iraq.
Plus, for us Obama fans, as I have speculated previously, I think it took a totally botched Afghanistan adventure and preemptive war in Iraq, a complete financial meltdown, and a Bush-weary nation to give the first African-American a snowball’s chance in heaven of getting elected President of the US.
Therefore, to finish up this walk down Twilight Zone Lane, I hated the Iraq War, and what it has done to our economy and those brave men and women who have died. I hate what Wall Street and the investment bankers were allowed to do to this economy. I also hate the idea that the first African-American President has brought racism back into plain sight while flushing the NRA leadership out into the open, showing their true intentions…selling more guns.
However, when it is all done and said, and the real history of this time is written, America has become a war-weary nation (finally), and maybe we have gotten that out of our systems for a while. Americans have still yet to see the jackals on Wall Street pay for their disgusting greed, but hope springs eternal. As for racism, it remains a sad fact of our nation’s past and present, but Obama helped to force us to deal with the fact that race as an issue is yet unresolved, along with the disgusting race-baiting of the NRA’s leadership. (President Obama has been a gift from the God’s if one is in the gun and ammunition producing industry.) The only good news is that racists have no place to hide because of their big mouths, and that will be seen as a very good thing in the long run.