Thursday, August 23, 2007

Signs Of GOP Trickery In The 2008 Election

I remarked in a blog the other day that a Giuliani-Clinton final in the 2008 presidential race would be a "bruising, no-quarters barred campaign" which could end in a presidency even more controversial than George W. Bush's.

But this could be the result even with other candidates, if a Republican trick, now being conjured up in California, comes to fruition. This is the proposed ballot measure that would apportion the state's 55 electoral votes on a basis of who won each congressional district, plus two to the overall winner of the state.

If California did this, and other states did not, it could tip the election to the Republican candidate, even though he got far fewer popular votes nationwide than the Democrat. This would not be "Californians For Equal Representation," the fraudulent name of the proposal, but a way to ruin American democracy.

Yes, I know Mr. Bush got elected in 2000, because he won more electoral votes (thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Florida recount case) than Democrat Al Gore, even though he got fewer popular votes. But that result was accepted in most of the country, because at least it was consistent with the winner-take-all state-by-state electoral vote system we have had historically. Other presidents had previously been elected with a minority of the popular vote.

What is worse about the GOP proposal in California is that it would skew the battleground, install a different system for different states and throw at least 20 California electoral votes to the losing Republican candidate in the state (assuming, as is generally expected, the Democrats carry California). That would be enough to tip the election and, if it happened, the whole country would feel it was desperately unfair.

Another part of the trickery being attempted in California is that such a ballot measure would probably be placed on the June primary ballot. Since the main presidential primary vote has already been moved to Feb. 5, there will be damn few incentives to vote in the state in June, and a minority of Republicans who came to the polls might be enough to pass the measure in a light turnout.

A New York Times editorial Wednesday said this constitutes an attempt to "rig elections in a way that would make it difficult for a Democrat to be elected president," and I cannot but agree.
Presumably, the Democrats would try to defeat it by encouraging their voters to come out in the otherwise meaningless June primary, but, if that did not suffice, the whole mess would have to be taken to court, possibly further clouding the election.

The country cannot and should not live with this. The Republicans should back off, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the numb skull who just opted for cutting back transportation funds in the state budget, should make it plain he will veto such a measure. The trouble is, we cannot count on the governor to be honest, he has been demonstrating that he is a shady character now for some time.

So this is one possible Republican trick that threatens the 2008 election. But it is not the only one.

I see in the same day's New York Times that former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who has not yet formally launched his presidential candidacy, is nonetheless, even before he gets in, attacking former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for backing gun control.

With all the crime in big cities, I can't imagine a New York mayor who wouldn't. The same day the Thompson attack story emerged, there was another gruesome crime story in Los Angeles, the murder without reason of a brother and sister while playing in their own South Los Angeles backyard, the shooters unknown.

Thompson, I'm beginning to believe, is a scoundrel of the Richard Nixon variety, ready to adopt any sleazy issue so as to throw mud on his opponent. He has been often called a respectable conservative alternative to Giuliani, Giuliani being a more moderate Republican on domestic issues. But there is a smell about Thompson's stand against gun control that won't easily go away.

On the Democratic side, for now at least, we have a fairer campaign.

But, frankly, I'm worried. It now appears that in the natural order of things, a Democrat may be elected next year, due to the unpopularity of the Iraq war and many other questions about the competency of the Bush Administration. If the Republicans feel they can only win with skulduggery, we really are in for a nasty election, and the results may not be consistent with a true democracy.

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Teresa Watanabe has a good story in today's L.A. Times about how Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, an important Jewish organization, has walked into a political cesspool, saying there was an Armenian genocide during World War I, but that he won't back the U.S. Congress saying so, on account of Turkish sensibilities.

Foxman, and others, can't have it both ways. France has been more honest by recognizing the genocide for the fact it was. The Turks are going to have to recognize and suitably atone for their own past actions, just as the Germans commendably have done with the World War II holocaust.

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