A great public controversy (such as a disputed presidential election) impresses the famous and the obscure into service. William Daley, James Baker, Katherine Harris, Bob Crawford, Carol Roberts, Donna Blanton, Judge Charles Burton, and Theresa LePore–all have become familiar faces as they’ve been pushed onto the national stage by forces larger than themselves.
Then there are the Moths.
Moths are opportunists, attracted by the gleam of lenses, who shove their way gratuitously into a floodlit scene of controversy. Theirs is not easy work, nor is it always easily noticed–many Moths in the Florida vote story, for example, were actually legitimate players in previous events. In order to recognize their efforts, kausfiles inaugurates the Moth List, an up-to-date ranking of the opportunists and self-promoters currently involving themselves in the twisted conclusion of the 2000 Election. The list will be updated periodically as appropriate.
1. Jesse Jackson–Well, this beats his other big recent cause, defending violent high school students in Decatur, Ill..
2. Leon Panetta–Surprise entry; goes on PBS early to play statesman, talk about need for “closure.”
3. Robert Torricelli–Book him on your show and he may stab Gore in the back!
4. Laurence Tribe–Pro-litigation Times op-ed says Palm Beach revote should let Gore, but not Bush, add votes.
5. Hillary Clinton–Grabbed some surplus ink by saying she’d eliminate the Electoral College.
6. Carl Bernstein–Tries to play Statesman Game on Geraldo with silly Ford-Carter mediation proposal.
7. Sam Nunn–Another volunteer statesman.
8. Bill Dal Col–He ran disastrous Lazio campaign, then trashed Bush’s in the New York Times.
9. Al Sharpton–Formerly AWOL, but you can’t keep a good moth down. Plans Florida bus trip to back recount and “see that there are no irregularities.”
10. Alan Dershowitz–Why let Larry Tribe get all the face time?
David Gergen … oh, there you are on Hardball. Never mind!
Methodological note: I’ve included Tribe for his half-baked early op-ed pronouncement (for a critique, click here; search for “Tribe”), not for his role arguing Gore’s case in Bush’s constitutional challenge to the Florida recounts. Tribe was, after all, asked to represent Gore, so his courtroom role can’t be called gratuitous. I also haven’t listed Sean Wilentz, Paul Berman, and the 3,042 other American leading lights who took out expensive ads in the New York Times to express hysterical concern about Palm Beach County. I assume they were motivated by a sincere, patriotic interest, not a self-promotional one. Their expression, too, wasn’t gratuitous. They just made total asses of themselves.