No “President Asterisk”

asteriskThe IRS scandal has spawned a new round of partisan “what ifs?” from Republicans and conservative commentators, the gist of them being that President Obama’s election in the 2012 contest was the result of cheating, and the IRS’s successful efforts to stifle Tea Party organization efforts. Surely the less than 2% difference between Mitt Romney and the President might have been bridged had the kind of conservative enthusiasm that marked the 2010 Congressional election not been unethically and illegally stifled! Wall Street Journal blogger James Taranto has dubbed Obama “President Asterisk.” A research paper from the American Enterprise Institute suggests that the post 2010 targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status may have cost Mitt Romney the Presidency.

Such retrospective efforts to delegitimize elections and presidencies do no good, plenty of harm, and are national exercises in dangerous self-abuse.  President Obama won the election. There was not a single reason he won, but many, and just as many factors that could have easily changed the result, as in all relatively close elections. Marking Obama as a President who “stole” the office constitutes  a dastardly effort to polarize the nation even more than it already is, and to undermine the respect due to any President, as well as a facile way for Republicans to avoid accountability for their own defeat, and especially their failure to support their party’s candidate. The tea parties, foolishly, stubbornly, never accepted Mitt Romney, who is, despite the successful efforts by Democrats to paint him as some kind of right wing robber baron, a moderate pragmatist. Every citizen had an opportunity to vote; less than 50% cared enough to bother, and Republicans cared less than Democrats. Obama’s IRS didn’t cost Mitt Romney the election; Republicans and Romney did. Obama won fair and square, if sleazily.

It is true that Democrats and the Left embraced and perfected the horrible, un-American and destructive tactic of delegitimizing presidential elections in this century. Claiming the the 2000 election was stolen from Al Gore (it was not) formed the foundation of the left’s attack on George W. Bush’s presidency through both of his terms. Incredibly, just this month, Joe Biden told a crowd that Gore won—but then, he’s an idiot. I do find it hard to feel too much sympathy for the party now being hoisted by its own petard, but it isn’t Democrats or even Barack Obama who are primarily harmed by specious claims that Obama used the IRS to steal the election. The nation is.

Trust, as I have written here repeatedly, is essential in a democracy, where the public must believe in the good intentions, integrity and values of our institutions and fellow citizens. Trust in the government has fallen to a dangerously low-level—both political parties and the last three administrations are largely at fault for that— and any political group that seeks to increase cynicism and distrust for political gain has announced its willingness to destroy the nation in order to govern it.

Such a group is itself unworthy not only of trust, but of respect as well.

___________________________________
Sources: AEI, Wall Street Journal 1, 2

20 thoughts on “No “President Asterisk”

  1. I remember a documentary about LBJ that talked about an election Johnson lost because his opponent cheated. Johnson didn’t say anything because knew he cheated too. He just vowed never to be out-cheated in an election again. No election is perfect. Although cheating shouldn’t be encouraged, if you try to overturn elections based on this sort of thing, you will never get anything done. I know it is a pragmatic argument, but after helping a friend work an election, it became obvious that cheating is rampant in elections.

  2. We need a healthy Republican Party… Unfortunately this 21 st century version is trying to use paranoia to rile and energize their ranks…. Guess what? THEY don’t need to be motivated.

    What the Republican Party needs to do is grow, since minority voters are now growing much faster than white voters, and they only got 1/4 of Asian and Hispanic voters.

    Republican Party should stop and think about how to align themselves to expand their base.This sort of rhetoric is ignored by outsiders.

  3. Jack,
    Given the long history of election cheating, (Rutherford B. Hayes was referred to as ‘Rutherfraud’ or ‘Your Fraudulency’ by members of BOTH parties), when do you think it is not harmful to the country to make a really big deal about it? Surely there is a trip point where we should all go nuts. Curious as to your thinking.

    • The trip point, as you call it, is when there is actual PROOF. At least the Gore disciples had an argument, since he DID technically win the popular vote in a razor-thin election. (Full disclosure: I was too young to witness the 2000 election personally. My earliest and most embarrassing memory of political involvement was participating in a Bush rally in ’04 as a child.) Romney and McCain both got elbow-dropped in the popular AND electoral vote, and for all the huffing and puffing I’ve yet to hear a theory with a scrap of proof or even common sense. The Gore crybabies had a clear message: his presidency was killed by five men in robes (DEATH PANELS!!!1!!). And Obama?

      -Birther Theory – You’re Fired.
      -ACORN – Even if you register Mickey Mouse he still can’t vote.
      -Skewed Polls -NATE-TALITY.
      -Benghazi -idiotic on the Admin’s part, but didn’t meaningfully influence election.
      -IRS -Conservative groups alone spent more than both sides did in previous elections.

      And that’s just getting into the claims of election fraud, not even considering the overall symptoms of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

      • Your response is well contained in your first sentence. If a precinct reports greater than 100% voter turnout, it’s fraud. There are many cases of this in the last several elections, as well as massive abuse of absentee ballots; all well documented. So, what is to be done when the losing side claims voter fraud, and it’s true? ( 100% voter turnout is also fraud. The chances of not one voter having a car accident, giving birth, throwing away their mail-in ballot, being dead or otherwise just not getting it done are incredibly small.) Sorry Senator Franken and (former) Gov. Gregoire!

        • If a precinct reports greater than 100% voter turnout, it’s fraud. There are many cases of this in the last several elections, as well as massive abuse of absentee ballots; all well documented.

          Citation needed. You’re not referencing the idiot who misread the statistics and thought 200 pages of ballots was 200 ballots instead of 100 2 page ballots, are you?

              • That allows you to cry ‘isolated incident’. I don’t intend to play the footnote game with you. Here’s any easy citation: My children received mail-in ballots at my place while they were cheerfully voting in the states in which they attend school. I’m certain that if I had voted those ballots, ( and the one for my deceased grandmother), no negative consequence would result that I couldn’t simply wiggle out of claiming ‘confusion’, and the votes would not be subtracted from the now anonymous totals.
                So, what’s a couple of fraudulent votes? I refer you, again to the Gregoire and Franken elections.

                • That allows you to cry ‘isolated incident’.

                  There isn’t a single instance of more than 100% voter turnout. This is an excuse.

                  . Here’s any easy citation: My children received mail-in ballots at my place while they were cheerfully voting in the states in which they attend school. I’m certain that if I had voted those ballots, ( and the one for my deceased grandmother), no negative consequence would result that I couldn’t simply wiggle out of claiming ‘confusion’, and the votes would not be subtracted from the now anonymous totals.

                  Potential for voter fraud is not voter fraud. This situation is also going to be spread evenly between the parties.

                  Fail.

      • 1. Gore’s disciples had no argument, because the election isn’t decided on the popular vote in the US. How is that an argument? It’s ignorance, or it’s a lie.
        2. You have no idea whether the Benghazi cover-up changed the election, but never mind—lying to the American people is OK if it doesn’t change the final percentages enough? Romney got tripped up and contradicted by a debate moderator supporting the President’s deceit. You have no idea what the impact was on the election. It’s no reason to deny that the election wasn’t fairly won by who won it, but it’s not trivial, either.
        3. “Conservative groups alone spent more than both sides did in previous elections.” That’s ridiculous, and makes no sense. What do you really mean?

        • 1. The popular vote isn’t a valid argument, but the refusal to do recounts and the process by which the supreme court decided Bush v Gore are interesting. A reasonable case can be made the election was stolen. A convincing one? Maybe not.

          3. I think he was saying that outside conservative groups spent more than both campaigns, which is irrelevant.

          • I don’t think a reasonable case can be made, especially since the newspaper count after the election showed that at worst it was a tie, too close for recounts to settle definitively. A better case can be made that the Florida Supreme Court willfully ignored existing laws for a partisan purpose, and that Gore’s tactic to only seek recounts in Democratic counties was a blatant attempt to steal the election.. And has been pointed out, Florida’s legislature had a constitutional right to appoint its electors.

            • Gore’s immediate democratic only count was bad, but he was willing to do a full recount. Bush didn’t want to. I stand by the reasonable case argument. A lawyer wouldn’t be sanctioned for making this argument. I don’t think he’d convince me, but I wouldn’t think he was crazy either.

              • Lawyers aren’t sanctioned for unreasonable arguments; they can be (but almost never are) sanctioned for arguments that have no chance of prevailing. The argument that the police set out to frame OJ (before knowing whether he was even a possible suspect!) because one cop used racist language years before was unreasonable, but it worked.

    • I’d say you picked the correct tipping point. That 1876 election WAS stolen. Luckily for everyone, Tilden didn’t want to be President very badly, and given the times, who can blame him?

    • How is that even relevant? More than 80% of the country is Christian. Just as many Christians voted for Obama as voted for Romney. You may as well say that 40% includes a huge number of men- it’s just as relevant.

  4. Mistrust in government is not new. Our founders mistrusted government. That mistrust informs almost all of the constitution. There’s nothing wrong with questioning the motives and actions of government. It’s blind trust in one or the other “wings” of government philosophy that causes problems. People are willing to become tremendously hypocritical in order to excuse the misbehavior of their chosen ideology. That’s far more damaging.

  5. “People are willing to become tremendously hypocritical in order to excuse the misbehavior of their chosen ideology. That’s far more damaging.”
    ********
    You’re not kidding!

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