Mugging the Election System


This weekend’s fast-moving,  long-overdue HBO docu-drama on the theft of the 2000 election stopped four years short.  It did a riveting job of portraying how Team Bush, headed by James Baker, strong-armed its way into the presidency.  But it’s now time for the major media to finally face up to Act 2 of the GOP’s mugging of the American electoral system, and produce a piece of equal heft and clout about Ohio 2004.  And let’s hope it won’t be necessary to follow with a third piece on how the GOP could steal 2008.

The most telling moment in this generally credible HBO offering comes at the very end.  Al Gore’s Florida point man, Ron Klain (as played by Kevin Spacey), spots the victorious James Baker getting on his private plane.  Ever the gentleman, Klain approaches Baker to congratulate him, and ask "if the best man won."  Baker responds he thinks so.

The show then ends with simultaneous clips of George W. Bush and Al Gore.  We can only shudder now with the knowledge of what Bush has done to our nation and the world.  As the worst Chief Executive—we should not grace him with the title "President"—that the US has ever known, it is clear the stand-alone catastrophe of the stolen election of 2000 was just the beginning of a long national nightmare whose toll will stretch out for decades.  The wreckage of our national self-respect, economy, military, ecology, educational system, moral standing in the world and so much more started with the US Supreme Court’s ghastly decision to hand Bush a presidency he clearly did not win, in obvious violation of the law and tradition of US democracy.

In "Recount," we see the perversion of the American electoral system.  The choreographed riots and intimidation used by GOP thugs to stop the recounting of ballots, the utterly partisan ditziness of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, the vile cynicism of the US Supreme Court in over-ruling the Florida Supreme Court and handing Bush the White House—the HBO show gratefully pulls few punches.  There were other aspects of the rip-off it could have covered in greater depth, such as the rigging of electronic voting machines, and the role played by a Bush cousin in getting Fox News and then the networks to shift their assessment of who had won Florida in the first place.

But the production does give fair treatment to the massive computerized disenfranchisement used by Governor Jeb Bush to prevent at least 50,000 citizens—most of them African-American—from exercising their right to vote.  And it makes abundantly clear how absurd and insane was the final Supreme Court ruling that ended a recount that had every reason to be enshrined in our democracy as the only fair and reasonable way to resolve this disputed election.

Much of what really did happen in Florida 2000 has been previously deemed too hot for our bought, lame, supremely partisan corporate media to handle.   That this HBO production had to wait nearly eight years and a lifetime of political catastrophe to air is a shame.  Had it been shown around 2002, we might have been better prepared for what was to come in 2004.

Thankfully, there have been some excellent independent documentaries about Ohio 2004, most notably David Earnhardt’s superb "Uncounted" and a long-awaited production from Emmy-award winner Dorothy Fadiman.   But the major media has yet to deal in any meaningful way with the scores of different strategies employed by Karl Rove’s GOP to steal four more years for the Bush machine of mass destruction.   That movie should have come out in 2005.

In fact, it has now been evident for far too long that presidential elections can be stolen, that the consequences can be catastrophic, and that it could happen again this year.  It is incumbent on us all to now work like hell to make sure that we keep history from repeating itself in November,.

Perhaps in a few years we’ll see an HBO docu-drama on how John Kerry wimped out and let Ken Blackwell and Karl Rove steal Ohio 2004.  It would take a far longer show to cover all they did here in that tragic travesty of a non-election.  But it would be great to see someday.

Meanwhile, let us fervently pray that by the time that one airs, we won’t be asking for yet another expose about the theft of 2008.  Because if such a "three-peat" hijacking actually does occur, it’s hard to conceive of there being enough left of the America we once knew to get it made.

HARVEY WASSERMAN, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com


December 01, 2015
John Wight
From Iraq to Syria: Repeating a Debacle
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: the Left Takes Charge
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Revenge? The Fight for the Border
Sami Al-Arian
My Ordeal: One of America’s Many Political Trials Since 9/11
Steffen Böhm
Why the Paris Climate Talks Will Fail, Just Like All the Others
Gilbert Mercier
Will Turkey Be Kicked Out of NATO?
Bilal El-Amine
The Hard Truth About Daesh and How to Fight It
Pete Dolack
Solidarity Instead of Hierarchy as “Common Sense”
Dan Glazebrook
Rhodes Must Fall: Decolonizing Education
Colin Todhunter
Big Oil, TTIP and the Scramble for Europe
Eric Draitser
Terror in Mali: An Attack on China and Russia?
Linn Washington Jr.
Torture and Other Abuses Make Turkey as American as Apple Pie
Randy Shaw
Krugman is Wrong on Gentrification
Raouf Halaby
Time to Speak Out Against Censorship
Jesse Jackson
It’s Time for Answers in Laquan McDonald Case
Patrick Walker
Wake Up Zombie, Kick Up a Big Stink!
November 30, 2015
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Embrace of Totalitarianism is America’s Dirty Little Secret
Omur Sahin Keyif
An Assassination in Turkey: the Killing of Tahir Elci
Uri Avnery
There is No Such Thing as International Terrorism
Robert Fisk
70,000 Kalashnikovs: Cameron’s “Moderate” Rebels
Jamie Davidson
Distortion, Revisionism & the Liberal Media
Patrick Cockburn
Nasty Surprises: the Problem With Bombing ISIS
Robert Hunziker
The Looming Transnational Battlefield
Ahmed Gaya
Breaking the Climate Mold: Fighting for the Planet and Justice
Matt Peppe
Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes
Norman Pollack
Israel and ISIS: Needed, a Thorough Accounting
Colin Todhunter
India – Procession of the Dead: Shopping Malls and Shit
Roger Annis
Canada’s New Climate-Denying National Government
Binoy Kampmark
Straining the Republic: France’s State of Emergency
Bill Blunden
Glenn Greenwald Stands by the Official Narrative
Jack Rasmus
Japan’s 5th Recession in 7 Years
Karen Lee Wald
Inside the Colombia Peace Deal
Geoff Dutton
War in Our Time
Charles R. Larson
Twofers for Carly Fiorina
John Dear
An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind
Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism