SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2021
How Maddow and Gore are alike: Very early today, Kevin Drum's new post returned us to happier times.
His post appears beneath the headline shown below. We're incline to call the headline's claim perhaps a bit overstated:
Yes, Al Gore won Florida
Is it true? Is it true that Candidate Gore really won Florida in November 2000? It all depends on what the meaning of "really won Florida" is!
In his post, Kevin focuses on one of the findings from one of the (three) major reviews of the Florida election.
That review was called The Florida Ballots Project; its findings were released in November 2001. Kevin quotes a retrospective report from CNN explaining how it worked:
PAYSON-DENNEY (10/31/15): A national media consortium—composed of CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Tribune Company, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The St. Petersburg Times, and The Palm Beach Post—paid for the National Opinion Research Center, or NORC, at the University of Chicago to review 175,010 disputed Florida ballots—61,190 undervotes and 113,820 overvotes.
After examining those 175,010 ballots, NORC found that Gore would have won Florida by 60 to 171 votes if those ballots had been carefully examined by hand.
That may or may not be true; it all depends on how official teams of ballot examiners would have evaluated those ballots. For the record, there's little chance that any such review, involving undervotes and overvotes, would have resulted from the political procedures and laws which prevailed in Florida in real time.
That said, in the review of those ballots conducted by NORC, Gore ended up winning the state, by an extremely tiny margin. This takes us back to the happier times when the worst the liberal world had to fear was the presidency of George W. Bush!
Kevin's headline isn't exactly "wrong," though we'd say it may oversimply the situation a bit. For ourselves, we'd move past the narrow focus on those "disputed ballots" to consider two other factors which ended up delivering Florida to Bush.
One such factor was the bungled ballot design in several Florida jurisdictions. Almost surely, Gore lost several thousand votes in Palm Beach County alone due to that jurisdiction's confusing ballot design.
This was simple human error at its most consequential. Almost surely, if Palm Beach County had designed a less confusing ballot, Candidate Gore would have won the state, and the United States of America might not have gone into Iraq.
This was basic human error at its most consequential. History changed on a badly flawed ballot design! We're told that the unfeeling gods on Olympus held their sides as they laughed.
That ballot design—that unintentional human error—changed the course of world history. Of course, a second factor allowed Bush to squeak by with a very narrow official win, thereby changing the course of world history:
We refer to the way the liberal world sat around and sucked its thumbs as the mainstream press corps—not the right-wing noise machine—conducted a journalistic war against Gore from March 1999 right through to Election Day.
(And years beyond. When Gore gave a major speech in September 2002 warning against going into Iraq, leading hacks of the liberal press firmament called him every name in the book. All the other timorous careerists else kept their careerist traps shut.)
We liberals! We sat around and sucked out thumbs as this press corps war proceeded. The history went like this:
In February 1999 Bill Clinton escaped removal from office. In the following month, the angry mainstream press corps launched its War Against Gore.
At the time, it looked like this would be their last possible shot at Clinton, and they eagerly took it. Our deeply self-impressed liberal world was too dumb to see this happening and/or too compliant to complain.
Sixteen years later, this war was still being played out in some of the puzzling journalism aimed at Candidate Hillary Clinton. One example was the New York Times' maniacal pursuit of "emailgate," a maniacism which Drum often cited and railed against.
There too, our tribe was still too dumb to see this for what it was, or was perhaps too compliant to howl in complaint. For the most part, this can be scored as unintentional human error too.
In this case, our unintentional human error gave us the presidency of Donald J. Trump. And, as everybody knows, it's entirely possible that Donald J. Trump will run again in 2024, and he may even win.
Our point here is simple. In 1999 and 2000, our highly self-impressed liberal tribe was unable or unwilling to see what the mainstream press corps was doing. In truth, our tribe has never caught up with that remarkable story—a story whose extension through 2016 ended up giving us Trump.
Our tribe is very self-impressed. We constantly inform the world that we're the very smart ones. We've been this way forever.
That said, we weren't able to see what was happening then. Also, we've been unable, in the past thirteen years, to see how ridiculous Rachel Maddow's journalistic performance has been.
It isn't Maddow's fault that we've been unable to see this. It isn't her fault that her corporate owners put her on the air and paid her millions of dollars per year to entertain and dumbnify us.
"Honey, please stop your cooking," the Eternal Child said last Wednesday night. As a group, we're so dumb that we still think this gargantuan self-involvement and sense of entitlement is entertaining, endearing, amusing.
In fact. it's the ridiculous work of an absurdly ill-suited Eternal Child, one who didn't put herself on the air.
Human error rules the world—and error is unintentional. The fact that we couldn't see through this manifest nonsense doesn't mean that we're bad people, or that Maddow is.
It does mean that we're a badly flawed group of people who ought to get over ourselves.
In 1999 and 2000, we were too dumb to push back against what the press corps was doing. From 2008 right through last week, we were too dumb to see how childish, uninsightful, unhelpful Maddow's journalistic behavior has been.
Our human error has been widespread, and that isn't Maddow's fault. On the other hand, people are dead all over world because we keep making these errors.
We have a standard explanation for what has happened in recent years, as human tribes often do. Amerika is full of racists, we like to say. No part of the ongoing political problem could possibly start with Us.
If we don't shape up, could Trump win again? Plainly, yes, he could. This makes us think of the good old days, when we had nothing to fear but the war in Iraq itself.
As Maddow continues to gambol and play, are we on our way to something far worse? We'll offer more of these musings next week, but the short answer would be a "yes."