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November 01, 2004


I think you need to add a third sentence to the pledge:

My standards for what constitutes "reasonably fair, reasonably square" will not differ based on who won the election.

The problem I have with this pledge is: what if, as seems possible, the new president will not have won "reasonably fair, reasonably square"? Between lawsuits, recounts and the like, this will be the nastiest post-election election of all time and the "reasonably" loophole is wide enough to drive a truck through it.

My rule is much simpler: whoever gets inaugurated on January 21st is the President. Period. You don't have to like it, you just have to accept it. I add, as a caveat, a rule similar to their pledge about accepting reasonable election results -- I don't want to condone arbitrary overturning of electoral results -- but, frankly, that's secondary to the Big Kahuna: regardless of my perception of the legitimacy of the process, whoever's inaugurated in January is the Real President.

I'll take the pledge, with or without kenB's amendment, and using 'reasonably fair' in a way that lets in a whole lot. I accepted Bush last time, despite all the problems, and I will do it again if necessary.

What is this, a loyalty oath? "I pledge allegiance to George Bush,and to the Republic..."

I am obligated to obey the law. The law does not require me to be nice. Like recognizing a court decision, you have a right to even a frivolous appeal, and I thought the right to criticize what you thought was an incorrect decision.

Study the concept of "legitimacy" why don't ya? This ain't a football game. Moral legitimacy is earned in governance. Both Johnson & Nixon lost moral legitimacy before they lost legal office. And maybe Clinton for a part of the nation.

I honestly don't understand this.

Bob M: I am not talking about accepting only Bush; I thought it went without saying that I'd accept Kerry as legitimate under similar circumstances. Nor am I talking about being nice or not criticizing whoever is elected: I think I get to criticize whoever is President, thanks to the first amendment.

I was saying that whoever is elected, if the election is 'reasonably fair, reasonably square', I will accept that person as legitimate. (Meaning, 'legitimately President', not 'morally wonderful' or 'immune from criticism'.) And also, that my definition of 'reasonably fair' is expansive. The reason for this is that I think that our tradition of democratic government, in which losers accept their loss and begin trying to figure out how to win next time, is extremely important, and that it will not survive repeated claims by losers that the election was unfair and that its results should not be accepted. This does not mean that I would never refuse to regard a President as legitimate -- there are scenarios in which I would. But it does mean that I think there's a weighty presumption against doing so.

To me, it's about loyalty not to Bush or Kerry, but to the country and its system of government.

To me, it's about loyalty not to Bush or Kerry, but to the country and its system of government.

Right. The part of the original post I don't like is the implication that the people who've been making those charges against Bush are genuinely questioning his legitimacy. None of them, to my knowledge, are suggesting that the citizens and government officials are not obligated to obey this administration's rules and regulations, or that the army should march on DC and replace Bush with Gore. The "Re-Select Bush" stuff is just politics.

And same with all the muttering against Clinton from the right, or whatever other example one wants to use. People tend to take statements from the "other side" too seriously. If anyone wants to take the pledge, great -- all it is is an agreement about the level of discourse. Everyone in this country has shown their loyalty by continuing to obey the laws of the nation, regardless of their political rhetoric.

Nope. All I saw at that site was a long polemic about how bad President Clinton, Michael Moore, and all lefties were and are. But that we should all just forgive and forget.

You want my support for a pledge? Fine--be happy to give it. But I won't (and more inclined to work against such a pledge) if it's couched in terms that the rightwing was somehow justified in its attacks on Clinton and that Michael Moore represents some terrorist threat. I'm not signing up to anything that requires acceptance of revisionist history.

There are two definitions of "legitimate" here. One is, he is Constitutionally empowered to act as the President. The other is that the process by which he arrived at that was fair & complied with the letter and spirit of the law.

Only the first is dangerous. But this oath-or-what-have you seeks to conflate the difference.

What if your answer is "yes" to one and "no" to the other? Can't you put up a bumper sticker that expresses the view that you answer "no" to number two? "Re-defeat Bush", "Selected not elected," etc. bumper stickers were not serious suggestions that Gore should have taken extra-legal action or that Bush is not legally empowered to act as the President.

And people will differ as to what is reasonably fair and reasonably square. And even if they try in all good faith to apply the standards for what is fair and square regardless of whether their candidate wins, I think it is inevitable that their views will be affected by who wins.

Let's leave out Bush v. Gore's legal merits, and which side you think was right. Does anyone here believe that the vote would have come out the same way had the candidates' legal positions been switched?

And Bush v. Gore depended on legal arguments, whereas the question of whether the election was "reasonably fair, reasonably square" also depends on one's evaluation of the various factual allegations flying back and forth. I pretty much trust Kerry's basic honesty. I pretty much don't trust Bush any further than I could throw him. I'm not going to be able to just switch that off, no matter how hard I try.

We simply need more specifics here, hilzoy. I suspect you are saying it is immoral in some sense to violate the "social contract" by questioning the legality of the process, as historically worked out in a particular case.
Ok. Let us compare Bush v Gore to Roe v Wade.

Both became the law of the land. Any events resulting from those decisions were legal. But a pro-lifer can criticize the Justices and the decision in any number of ways, and may say that tho abortions may be legal, Roe v Wade did not make abortions moral or acceptable.

The "legitimacy" of abortion, provided legally by Roe v Wade, is very much morally questioned because of "mistakes" made during the process.

I'm not about to pledge either in the form in which Von has them, but obviously:

Whoever takes office on 21st January 2005, providing they do so within the forms of law, is the legitimate President of the United States of America, and deserves to be accepted as such by all.

Bush did not win the 2000 election by any definition of the word "win" except that he succeeded in getting himself into office: he lost the election and got himself legitimately appointed. But he was legitimately appointed, and he has been the lawful President since 21st January 2001. To deny that or to challenge it would be folly.

I sincerely hope that whoever wins this year, wins by a sufficient margin in enough states that a debacle like 2000 cannot happen.

I sincerely hope that whoever wins this year, does not win by illegal suppression of votes, whether done indirectly using scrub lists or challenges at the polling station, or directly using Diebold.

And honestly, if the 2000 election had gone to Congress, and Tom Delay had gotten Bush into the White House, Bush would have been legitimate.

In my opinion, Bush v Gore was such an intrusion of SCOTUS in an area they had been specifically excluded from in 1886 Law, that Bush was not even a legally legitimate President.

2) In a very close election, moral legitimacy can be gained by governing from the center, as Truman, Kennedy, Nixon, and after a learning period, Clinton did. Bush did not even attempt to gain the acceptance of those who voted against him. I do not expect him to act any differently in a second term.

While we're hoping, I sincerely hope for some kind of movement to produce, either at the state or federal level, a uniform, unified mechanism to deal with the specter of electoral results significantly within the margin of error. "Ties" should not (need to) be broken by the courts except as a last resort.

I'm often amazed at what isn't talked about at this website...

We have a post today on a useless pledge and abortion... while the bin Laden tape recently released has been reported to say:

"In a section of his speech in which he harshly criticized George W. Bush, bin Laden stated: β€œAny U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security.”"

If this is true it seems as if the MSM is keeping everyone in the dark about it... I find that interesting.

You don't have to like it, you just have to accept it.

I agree with this.

Blue, you can always request an open thread.

It's the day before the election, Blue. Someone post an open thread for catblogging and I'll tell you about the cute yet manipulative behavior of my beloved cat. Other than that, people blog what they choose to blog?

I doubt the readers of this site need to pledge to behave like adults, nor do I think they haven't been doing so already.

The more significant threat resides in a Kerry win. The Republicans almost engineered a coupe d'etat against the previous Democratic president, one who was unequivocally elected without questions about the fairness of the election. And the Clinton years are sure to look like child's play compared to Republican efforts to undermine a Kerry administration.

I find the interpretation of Bin Laden's words so partisan, and so utterly implausible, that it pretty much destroys MEMRI's credibility. They do have a point that "al-waliya" should be translated as "state" and not nation. But it is quite a leap to get from that to "we'll only attack red states from now on." These both seem like decent translations; they are the two most commonly reported by the "MSM":

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not attack us, will not be attacked either."

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe."

Given that he seems to make no distinction between Kerry and Bush, given that he holds the entire nation responsible for the actions of other administrations, given that he holds children responsible for actions taken before they were born, given that he says "attack us" and not "vote to attack us" let alone "vote for Bush, and given the difficulty of a single state would have in directly threatening Al Qaeda, I do not find MEMRI's interpretation at all plausible.

If that is what Osama meant to convey, he was unbelievably unclear about it.

And even if "we'll only attack red states from now on" were an accurate interpretation/translation, it would be such a transparent lie on bin Laden's part that it could not possibly influence any U.S. voter to vote against Bush on that basis. His first murder was in Manhattan, which might be the bluest little island in America. We know it. He knows we know it.

This is another slimy attempt to argue that a vote for Kerry is a vote for bin Laden & anyone who makes it should be ashamed.

I agree with Bob's post with just a few caveats. I don't think it would be out of bounds if, after a Kerry victory, conservatives argued that press coverage leading to the election unfairly hurt Bush. I would disagree with these arguments, but I don't think making them is tantamount to challenging the legitimacy of the President. In the same way, if Bush squeaks out a narrow victory and if Kerry was hurt by vote counting methods that are biased against poor communities, I'm not going to keep quiet about that. I will accept Bush as President (as I did in 2000), but that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to make fair criticisms of the election process.

I think there is a difference between criticizing flaws and unfairness in the election process (in an attempt to improve it) and questioning the legitimacy of the Presidency. The former is legitimate, the latter is not. Of course I was angry that in 2000 the Florida felon list disenfranchised so many legitimate voters, possibly changing the result of the election. Of course I was angry that the supreme court acted in what appeared to be such a partisan matter. And of course I was angry that, having secured such a razer thin victory, Bush preceded to govern as though he had a mandate. But I never thought of him as anything but the legitimately elected President of the United States, and I never questioned his right, his obligation, to act as President, and our obligation as citizens to respect him as the President. If Kerry wins this election, I hope conservatives will do the same.

In closing, I would like to say that I am grateful to Bob Hayes for apologizing for the shameful way some on the right treated Bill Clinton when he was elected President.

--Rick Taylor

I'm thinking about this pledge. It's a good pledge. The adult in me (I look middle-aged but try to maintain my youthful vigor) says great, particularly within the confines of Obsidian Wings.

The child in me (still immature enough to play centerfield on a baseball team) says wait a second, I'll sign if Georgie signs but the last time I thought Georgie signed and then I signed, Georgie began using the adult word "mandate" in a very childish way, and I didn't even get invited over for cake anymore. He called me a traitor and other names even though I thought we both signed a "turn the other cheek" pledge. Either I've run out of cheeks or he has more cheeks on his several faces than I do.

Did Tommy and Grovy and Newty and Dicky sign? What about Annie and Krauti? Do I get to serve on the supposedly bipartisan playground commission for important stuff or does my signing this pledge just mean that I have to shut up and like it when those guys tell me my opinion on say, air quality, doesn't count any more and, by the way, why don't I go live in a cave with my buddies.

What does Bobby Hayes mean when he says he's gonna fight Kerry "like the devil"? That doesn't sound very nice.

Why is Karl allowed to snicker every time my pen gets close to the signature line on the pledge? And what's with the offer of a sucker if I sign?

I'm reading this book called "Lord of the Flies". Does any one know whether the kids are acting like adults do, or whether if the kids were adults, they would act like kids in the same situation? Or when adults get angry and hurt each other, how come they give' em medals and stuff but all the kids get is a spanking. There aren't any flies, that I can see. I have to do a book report. It's due tomorrow.

Hey, how come I have to sign this pledge AND that other pledge to get into Georgie's rallies and then he handcuffed me and arrested me for wearing a stupid t-shirt. That isn't gonna happen this time, too, is it?

Gimme the pledge. I'll put it under my pillow and sleep on it.

I've been noticing that in the comments section of left-leaning blogs, there's been a substantial uptick in the "if Bush wins, the only option left will be violence" sentiment. I have a feeling, though, that if Kerry winds up winning such rhetoric is going to suddenly shift to those on the right. The groundwork has basically already been laid--I remember about a year ago getting in an argument on Free Republic with someone who believed that Clinton waged the Kosovo war in order to clean out America's stock of cruise missiles so that we would be defenseless against any future threat.

Given the existence of the internet to quickly distribute such rhetoric, I give a world in which Kerry is president about six months before we start to hear that Kerry is a vile traitor plotting to hand America over to jihadists. It will only be a short leap from that to calls for violence.

My question, then, is how this has all come about. Is it simply the natural result of the consequence-free nature of talking s**t on the internet?

If George Bush wins the election, reasonably fair, reasonably square, then he remains my President and your President

As much as I respect you (von), and this place, (ObWi), my feeling is that the GOP leadership has already exhausted any possible benefit of doubt with respect to that "if" clause, many times over.

"Reasonably fair, reasonably square" is not a falsifiable assertion, and it's a little late to be touting "good faith" efforts. We keep seeing reams of evidence of deliberate disenfranchisement, outrageous gerrymandering, election fraud, misuse of public funds etc etc, the vast preponderance of which has been perpetrated by a particular group of people. Fool me once, fool me... won't get fooled again. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Football.

Honestly, stuff like this makes me sad. Sad as in triste. As in melancholy. As John Thullen notes, it's like the school bully who's suddenly your best friend after you fight back and you're both on your way to the principal's office with bloody noses. Fine, we're best of friends. I don't care who pledges fairness with a cross-my-heart and hope-to-die. I care who behaves fairly.

I ain't taking no stinking pledge. All depends on what happens.

Hmmm, it seems that all the handwringing and grandiose gestures of magnanimity here fail to address the real, underlying problem:

The US election system is fundamentally broken. How can it be that there is such a vast variety of voting systems, each with different chances of counting the votes correctly? How can it be that your vote has a better chance of being counted in a wealthy district than in a poor one? How can it be that voters are going to be challenged by poll watchers on election day? How can it be that the purging of voter rolls regularly results in scandal? How can it be tolerated that voters are intimidated and fed false information about their right to vote? etc. etc. etc.

These are the questions that should be asked, or rather should have been asked right after the embarassing debacle 4 years ago. It pains me to say, but if any questions concerning the legitimacy of the next president should arise, it will be due to four years in which all of the above questions have been basically ignored. If the oldest democracy in the world cannot even conduct a proper vote (and it isn't that difficult - how about a central register and filling out voting forms with a plain pen, it works in a lot of other countries) then that is the result of nobody really giving a damn - and that's pretty sad.

What's that mean praktike? If it's not "clear" or "fair" what actions are appropriate?

"if Bush wins, the only option left will be violence"

I live on leftist blogs, and I have seen little of this. I have seen a lot of people talking about leaving the country, which is very discouraging. We are still very far from that point. Whatever I might think of Bush/Ashcroft, I have seen little evidence of government suppression of political speech, in any way that is frightening. I have seen talk of keeping the energy and organizations going after a Bush election, with the aim of taking Congress in 2006.

Yglesias likes to say that the polarization does not reflect the actual political positions. There was this much polarization in the late 19th century, partly on patronage grounds, even tho there was not a huge gap on policy. People somehow identify their interests with a particular political party, which then creates a spiral of partizanization. The spiral was broken in the 19th century by LaFollette & TR. And maybe demographics, the rise of urban Democrats. It is amazing how little we understand about politics.

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. Non-violent civil disobedience first, and I don't even think we are there yet, although the next couple weeks are critical. As an opponent of the Right, if the right becomes violent, my advice to the Left is to turn the other cheek. It will destroy them. I have no illusions about advising the Right, turning the other cheek doesn't really seem in their nature.

I have seen a lot of people talking about leaving the country, which is very discouraging.

This kind of talk should be taken with a huge grain of salt Bob. If they were serious they'd have already made some plans or explored options, and no one I've asked who is saying this has done so. It's a way to express how strongly they feel, but not a real plan.

Hey Edward, I found that Canada has a handy website checklist and I scored 75/100 on their "skilled worker" category test (and I only needed 67 to be eligible). I'll dig it up for you, if you want.

OTOH, I think Kerry will win (despite the best efforts of Jeb Bush and his appointees).

I have come to believe we need to have a national, nonpartisan (quasi-judicial?) election administration agency, with national standards and verifiable tallies. I understand Brazil and a whole bunch of less developed countries do it that way, why can't we?

"violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

Asimov's first Foundation book? didn't sleep well last night and the caffeine isn't working.

re: the pledge. I'll take Reagan's version: Trust But Verify.


"OTOH, I think Kerry will win (despite the best efforts of Jeb Bush and his appointees)."

I also think Kerry will win, but due to Bush's poor showing in the debates and the weeklong onslaught against Bush by the MSM.

As much as I dislike Chris Matthews over at MSNBC... that network does seem to be the only balanced one during the last week.

What's that mean praktike?

Well, I've seen with my own eyes how the GOP is working to prevent people in my neighborhood from voting. It pisses me off more than anything GWB has done abroad. Frankly, they're cheating. I don't care if that sounds shrill or whatever. Go out and volunteer and you'll see exactly what's going on. So I don't feel obligated in any way to consider Bush a legitimate president if he wins by anything less than a decisive margin indicating that he would have won regardless.

As an opponent of the Right, if the right becomes violent, my advice to the Left is to turn the other cheek. It will destroy them. I have no illusions about advising the Right, turning the other cheek doesn't really seem in their nature.

Thanks for that deep look into "the Right's" nature. Someone from the Right might respond that "of course the Left'll turn the other cheek, that's what they do best...to everyone, no matter what." S/he'd be wrong of course and more correctly scoffed at, too big a brush, too much tar etc.

"violence is the last refuge of the incompetent"

Yeah, Asimov's Foundation. Jerry Pournelle course had the interesting take that only the incompetent postpone violence until it becomes the last refuge.

"Thanks for that deep look into "the Right's" nature."

What can I say? Your characterization of the left is not so far from my own.

a) I am trying to remember large peaceful demonstrations, acts of civil disobedience on the part of conservatives or Republicans, and the only ones that come to mind are the anti-abortion ones.

b) I do connect the "Right" with authority, that as in the Pournelle take above, the conservatives in a society usually have the control of the levers of gov't power: the police, army, justice system. I am trying to get my mind around the Hungarian people in 1956 being the conservatives and the Stalinists the liberals; around calling Richard Daley a liberal in 1968; around FDR siccing MacArthur(if I have dates right) on the vets being a liberal act.

I also have trouble imagining, these pictures in my mind of the march in Selma, and Bull Connor siccing the dogs, I have trouble thinking Republicans laying facedown and getting bit, Republicans not fighting back. But it was those pictures that won that battle. It wasn't meant as an insult.

Now this is an endorsement...

TAMPA, FL – Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf today issued the following statement:

"The Democratic National Committee is making fraudulent phone calls claiming that I have endorsed Senator Kerry. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I demand that they stop immediately.

"Senator Kerry opposed the Reagan defense build-up that won the Cold War. Senator Kerry opposed the removal of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Senator Kerry proposed billions in intelligence cuts after the first attack on the World Trade Center. Senator Kerry voted against funds to equip our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with supplies like body armor and ammunition.

"I am supporting President Bush for reelection, because he is the candidate who has demonstrated the conviction needed to defeat terrorism. In contrast to the President's steadfast determination to defeat our enemies, Senator Kerry has a record of weakness that gives me no confidence in his ability to fight and win the War on Terror. His attempt to make up for these deficiencies by falsifying my endorsement only confirms my impression that he is not the man we need to lead our nation."

Pournelle eh? Back in the day, I was a big science fiction, but living in a small Southern town, completely out of touch with the world of fandom. Even then, Pournelle's works were disturbing, but not in a good way. I find the same undercurrent of authoritarianism that Bob attributed to Yglesias in the voter suppression thread, though I am much more willing to give MY the benefit of the doubt. At any rate, Googling Pournelle turns up his site, with a lot of things about his positions and some various debates. A summary would not do justice, he says some things that I agree with fervently and some that I disagree with to the same degree.

I realize that SF fights over authors are probably the ur-flame wars, so this review of Pournelle's Starswarm (though I haven't read the book) seems to be appropriate as a middle of the road strengths and weaknesses starting point

Sorry bob, no matter how its meant, my understanding is that OW frowns upon painting with so broad a brush. A characterization of "The Left" as described in my comment is just that, a gross characterization that has as little place here* as your charcterization of "The Right". That's why I mentioned that it is both wrong and correctly scoffed at.

and the only ones that come to mind are the anti-abortion ones.

Hmm, seems to me there were quite a few demonstrations in support of the troops of Iraq II. I'd say they were bi-partisan affairs though I believe those you might identify as "The Right" did indeed join in.

*Or in my mind, for that matter.

crionna's correct.

generalizations are frowned upon here. especially ones that assume the left or right or Dems or Repubs are homongenous. Specificity is your friend.

"Hmm, seems to me there were quite a few demonstrations in support of the troops of Iraq II."

Since I was discussing theories of civil disobedience and protest this is not an appropriate example. Tax avoidance might be more pertinent.

But so be it. Caught me looking into a generalized and thus nonexistent heart. Sorry. Argument over.

Blue, shortly after you posted about Schwarzkopf, I composed a scathingly sarcastic reply about how unbelievably desperate for votes the DNC must be to leave such a message (coincidentally) on the answering machine of a lifelong Republican, (coincidentally) just when the rather better documented anti-Kerry calls in MI were making it into the news cycle.

I didn't post it. I didn't think it contributed anything to the discourse, and I wanted to wait until I had a chance to call ABC and AP to see whether they were actually able to locate a second person who had received said message from Schwarzkopf (first being Richard Bonnet).

Now I don't know whether to be sorry or relieved that I waited. Herewith the DNC explanation of the NJ Schwarzkopf phone call incident which has somehow made it past the Vast Left Wind Media Conspiracy and into the news cycle (I even heard it on the radio driving home). I can't get the MP3">http://media1.streamtoyou.com/rnc/DNC-call_large.mp3">MP3 provided by the RNC to work, so I can't compare to the McPeak endorsement, but I'd be interested in your opinion.

Since I was discussing theories of civil disobedience and protest this is not an appropriate example.

If you lived in CA (perhaps you do though) you might think differently.

But, I do see your point.

can we have a rule banning posts which use the expression "the right" or "the left"? No? ok, can i get a show of hands of people who are willing, post-nov.3, to stop painting their political opponents with such a broad brush? [crickets chirp in the silence.]

ooo! how 'bout a sci-fi thread? but not until Wednesday!


can we have a rule banning posts which use the expression "the right" or "the left"? No?

Please. Yes.

ok, can i get a show of hands of people who are willing, post-nov.3, to stop painting their political opponents with such a broad brush?

*waves hand*

Willing and eager, for multiple reasons. (It is more than irritating to see Kerry, who is very much to the right of me, lumped in with me as part of "the Left" - even if the person doing the lumping isn't just being broad-brush critical.)

David Neiwart's site has a nice discussion that is relevant. Currently 45 percent do not believe that Bush was legitimately elected in 2000.

This namby-bamby sentiment that folks ought to be more loyal etc. is too little, too late. The rightwing backlash has been going on for forty years and these intolerant bastards have been honing their take no prisoners political strategy. The last three years have been mild in comparison of the bile that conservatives dumped on the body politic, regardless of what Clinton did or didn't do.

For middle America its now reap what you've sown.

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