Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Some Off Notes?

The generally astute ABC Note makes some curious points about the election results in Florida and New York. In Florida, the Note says:

Governor Bush, on the other hand, will be weakened by the ballot fiasco. Putting politics aside, he IS the governor, and he failed to insure that a working system was in place. Ordering the polls to stay open two additional hours was hardly a solution. Adding politics back in: all of this has the potential to revive the "get-the-Bushes-for-election-irregularity" energy that once promised to drive Democratic efforts in the Sunshine State this year. Republican bravado aside, honest GOPers will quietly say that if McBride holds on to his current lead, this is going to be a competitive race. The debacle in Florida, replete with yet more sound and video of frustrated voters, has and will continue to dominate what coverage there is of the primaries, while strategists on both sides sift for clues as to what the mess will mean for Jeb. Democrats charge that the mess represents yet another big Bush promise gone unkept, arguing that he pledged to fix the state's education system, child welfare system, and elections systems — and hasn't.

Perhaps the Note has something to back up a conclusion that the Governor of Florida will be weakened by a fiasco attributed in the media I have seen mostly to Democratic-controlled county governments. As the Note points out, Mr. Bush IS the Governor - not a county supervisor. Perhaps there are exit interviews or some other evidence showing that people who would otherwise have voted Republican (or Democrat-leaning voters who would otherwise not have voted at all in November notwithstanding problems with the state's education system and child welfare system) will now turn out and vote Democratic because of a voting fiasco in the Democratic primary, especially one attributable to Democratic county workers. That evidence would be interesting. Weird, but interesting.

With respect to New York, the Note opines:

New York was great for Democrats because wealthy self-funding candidate Thomas Golisano appears to have defeated GOP Gov. George Pataki for the Independence Party line on the November ballot, and is expected to spend millions to try to take the governorship away from the Governor.

Setting aside for a moment Pataki's huge warchest and his even bigger political skills (those are mega things, but put them aside), with New York you now have a heavily Democratic state; a heavily favored group of Democrats running for other offices; a candidate who will likely unite and turn out the Democratic base with his historic effort; the Clintons working hard to win this; and a multimillionaire who will pound Pataki with ads all fall, orchestrated by a wily, experienced consultant (Roger Stone) who remembers well his run-in with the Governor over Trump business.

All of which lands this race on the edge of the radar screen, while still not squarely front and center. But Republicans — who remain worried about the November message and practical implications of losing a lot of governorships this year — could now be facing races in New York and Florida that weeks ago looked like easy wins.

Except that the counterfactual in the prior paragraph ("Setting aside for a moment Pataki's huge warchest and his even bigger political skills (those are mega things, but put them aside)") is still needed to reach the conclusion that Republicans "could now be facing races in New York ... that weeks ago looked like easy wins." What is the purpose of this nonsense? And why stop with counterfactual assumptions that just "set aside" Mr. Pataki's huge warchest advantage and political skills (by the way, exactly what does this leave to consider? Pataki's hairdo?), why not just "assume for the moment" that Mr. Pataki has just had himself lobotomized and will announce a previously secret pederasty conviction? HEW-WHEE! Under that assumption New York Republicans could now really be facing a race in New York that weeks ago looked like an easy win! Who cares?

Further, the Clintons only declared their support for Carl McCall, the winner of the Democratic primary, a few days ago (against the interests of Mr. Clinton's own former cabinet member, Andrew Cuomo). That's hardly a sign the "Clintons [are] working hard to win this" - at least so far. Nor is any evidence put forward by the Note that Mr. McCall is "a candidate who will likely unite and turn out the Democratic base." Is Mr. McCall, an African-American, expected to embrace or repudiate Al Sharpton, for example? Which choice "unifies the base" of the New York Democratic Party?

Perhaps most remarkable of all is the Note's insistence that Thomas Golisano's "defeat" of Mr. Pataki in the Independence Party primary is really significant. Significant enough to make the election results in New York "great" for Democrats. How likely is this where Mr. Pataki almost beat Mr. Golisano in Mr. Golisano's own primary even though the New York Times says he spent more than $20 million on anti-Pataki television advertising and direct-mail appeals? In fact, the New York Times reports: "A statewide poll released Monday by Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion, had Pataki leading McCall, 51 percent to 34 percent, among registered voters."

Is it unfair to the Note authors to suggest that the whole collection of New York counterfactual and weak considerations almost seems to be a set up for the assertion that Mr.Golisano "will pound Pataki with ads all fall, orchestrated by a wily, experienced consultant (Roger Stone)?" Do none of the Note authors know Mr. Stone personally as a friend? They don't say they do.

So I guess they don't.

Do they?

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