Today's Papers


Everybody leads with the latest from Indecision 2000, which is quite a lot: 1) In an attempt to reverse the Florida Supreme Court ruling mandating the inclusion of hand recounts, George W. Bush decided to appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court. 2) Bush lawyers have filed a lawsuit in Florida to force consideration of more than 1,500 disqualified overseas absentee ballots, many from active duty service members. 3) The Miami-Dade County election board, citing the impossibility of meeting this Sunday’s deadline for submission of a completed tally, and besieged by noisy Republican protesters, decided to abandon its hand recount. Gore attorneys are appealing this in Florida’s Supreme Court. 4) A Palm Beach County judge ruled that his county election board must consider all dimpled ballots to see if voter intent can be determined, but he didn’t require the board to automatically count dimples as votes. 5) The Republican speaker of the Republican-majority Florida state House and other Bush supporters in that body have begun talking about the legislature naming its own Bush slate of electors if Gore wins the Florida vote via the recounts. 6) Dick Cheney checked himself into a Washington, D.C., hospital with what was later determined to be a mild heart attack–his fourth. Doctors said he would be able to resume normal activity within a few weeks. Note–they did not say that about the country.

The papers vary a bit in which of these elements they emphasize. The Los Angeles Times’ banner headline, the direst for the Democrats, is “MIAMI-DADE CANCELS RECOUNT/Ruling on ‘Dimpled’ Ballots Deals Second Blow to Gore,” whereas the New York Times and Washington Post banners instead emphasize the court action. Similarly, the LAT lead is the only one that nets out yesterday’s happenings, saying that with them Bush “inched closer to the White House.” But all the leads agree that belligerence is on the upswing. The WP lead says that “both camps are prepared for an all-out legal and political war.” And the NYT lead says the Bush Supreme Court appeal brief includes “unusually harsh language.”

Then there’s the WP above-the-fold story reporting that House Republican honchos Dick Armey and Tom DeLay endorsed a proposed bill that would require state election officials to retroactively include all military absentee ballots as part of their final vote counts. The paper says that the measure has little chance of passage but reflects increasing Republican bitterness over the election. And, says the story, it’s the clearest indication yet that House Republicans are contemplating blocking Gore electoral college votes. The NYT lead editorial condemns “Reckless Republican Rhetoric.” And an LAT front-pager reviews the recent outpourings of the conservative commentariat and concludes its members are “back at the barricades.” This is, one righty think-tanker tells the paper, “impeachment, the sequel.”

Meanwhile, the LAT and WP front, while the NYT stuffs, word that Democrat Maria Cantwell has eked out a victory over the Republican incumbent in Washington state. If the result stands after the automatic recount, this means that the Senate would be evenly divided 50-50 between the two parties, unless Joe Lieberman has to leave his seat to become vice president, because, the papers explain, his replacement would be picked by Connecticut’s Republican governor. But even if Lieberman stays in his seat, the Republicans will still rule by a razor’s edge, because then there’d be a Republican VP to break ties.

The LAT fronts continued Mideast escalation: a nail-studded car bomb killed two Israelis and hurt many more, and Israeli soldiers shot four Palestinians near a roadblock on the Gaza strip. The Palestinian Authority said it had no responsibility for the bombing and that the men in the car were unarmed and posing no threat. Israeli officials say there were weapons in their two cars, and that they were trying to run a roadblock. The papers make it clear that further reprisals from both sides are not so much feared as expected.

Charles Krauthammer uses his WP column today to argue that “the very idea of reading intent from a mere indentation is absurd.” He bulwarks this opinion about dimpled ballots with some now-it-can-be-told reporting. He tells the reader about some of his own voting experiences, writing, “I can remember several occasions over the years having pressed the handle part way down to engage the paper, then changing my mind just before pushing it all the way through. Little did I know that I might have created a dimpled ballot. Little did I imagine that some rabid partisan might interpret it as a vote rather than a recoil.” Interestingly, Krauthammer doesn’t mention whether he then a) successfully made a hole for another claimant to the same office; or b) ever had this sort of experience when voting for president. It’s more than a little likely that the answer to a) is yes, and the answer to b) is no, in which case Krauthammer’s personal peek behind the voting curtain, no matter how thrilling, is simply irrelevant.

In a letter to the NYT, the president of the Legal Aid Society commemorates today with the observation that “the Pilgrims were the first boat people. They came here unwanted, and immediately went on food assistance,” and that Thanksgiving “celebrates the generosity of those Americans already here toward the newly arrived illegal aliens.”