Somehow or another the Republicans appear to be on the verge of shutting down the whole process of manual recounts in Florida. The only thing that may stand in their way now is public opinion and elite opinion – obviously two different things. So how do the prestige national dailies react on their editorial pages? Well, it’s pretty disappointing. The Washington Post has a typically supercilious, plague-on-both-your-houses complaint about how both campaigns have their spokesman saying some awfully un-nice things. (Did Chris Lehane really call Katherine Harris “Commissar Harris”? Chris, I’m on your side, man, trust me. But that kind of talk really doesn’t help matters.)
Anyway, back to my story. The Wash Post editorial is a pretty big disappointment. Characteristically they seem quite oblivious to the thought that there might be an issue of small-d democratic principle at stake here. Since when does David Broder get to write the unsigned editorials for the Post anyway?
The NYT editorial is a little more encouraging, praising the state court decision which agreed that Katherine Harris has discretion over what to do about accepting those overdue election returns, but encourages her not to exercise that discretion in the irresponsible and arbitrary way she seems to intend.
Apparently Bob Torricelli is still playing the nay-sayer, bucketing water into the Democratic boat rather than the other way around. Anyway, that’s what Kausfiles seems to imply that Torricelli did last night on Hardball. Talking Points would comment on this matter directly. But he’s currently visiting his girlfriend in New Haven and she doesn’t have cable TV so he has no direct evidence. He has to rely on Kaus.
The one half-way decent editorial on this is in USAToday. They basically make the standard anti-litigation argument. But they’re at least sensitive to the fact that the Republican strategy is to avoid accurate tabulation and avoid having everyone’s vote count. The real answer to this quagmire, they argue, is to have the whole state do a manual recount. (Note: here’s where my editorializing begins) That really is the one solution that no one should be able to argue with. It really will get the most accurate count. There would be no question of selective counting. And perhaps best of all the proposition would create sufficient uncertainty for both camps – a decent shot at winning or losing – that pressure might be applied to get both to agree in advance to honor the result without further grousing. (Secret word to fellow Democratic partisans: apparently the big Democratic counties are the ones that tend to have the machines most likely to miss votes. So even the fair way of settling this seems to lean in our favor – of course, that’s only because most people in Florida did apparently vote for Al Gore.)