November 17, 2000
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Back before the election, one of the most frequently heard complaints about George W. Bush from well-educated, limousine-liberal Democrats was that he was too stupid to be president. His "subliminable" television advertisements, his reference to Greeks as "Grecians," the overall fraternity-boy demeanor combined to convey an image of a politician who wasn't exactly Mr. Intelligence. And, at least in the circles that the editor of Smartertimes.com travels in, the Democrats were withering in their conveyance of this assessment, referring openly to Mr. Bush as an imbecile, an idiot or worse.
So what a stunning turnaround it is to see the Democrats now pleading for America to indulge the less-than-smart in their own party, and arguing that Mr. Bush's victory should be overturned and the election should be handed to his opponent on the basis of blemished votes cast by those too stupid or uneducated to understand and follow the simple instructions on Florida ballots.
A prime example of this comes on the front page of today's New York Times, in an article that runs under the headline, "Democrats Rue Ballot Foul-Up In a 2nd County." Despite the headline, the article is not about a ballot foul-up, but about a voter foul-up; that is, about foul-ups by voters who were too dumb or careless or uneducated to read and follow the instructions. And, just to mark the point for all those folks who have spent the last year making snide remarks about Mr. Bush's alleged lack of intelligence, those folks who were overpowered by the overwhelming intellectual challenge of a Florida ballot turn out to be overwhelmingly those who intended to vote for Mr. Gore.
The Times article tries to blame some of the confusion on the Democratic voter turnout effort, but it seems pretty clear that the ultimate blame rests with voters who, when it comes to supposed lack of intelligence, could give George W. Bush a run for his money. The Times article today contains a priceless quote from one such voter, who was "taken aback" by the two-page presidential ballot. "It was confusing to me," the Times quotes her as saying. "It was my first time voting."
The Times reports that "she does not know which precinct or district she voted in; she had gone to the polling station the Democrats had shown her. After first making a mistake and voting for Mr. Bush, she managed, after considerable assistance, to get a new ballot, she said. But she still was not certain what to do."
She tells the Times, "I kept looking around, pleading for help. But they just kept saying, 'read it, read it.' I wanted to get out of there, but I was determined. So I just punched whatever. When I got home, I told my husband, I don't know who I voted for."
The "The Big City" column in the metro section of today's Times actually claims that the fact that Democrats are more likely to botch their ballots than Republicans creates "a stronger case for a recount." The column makes the argument that "the machine count is unfair because one party's voters happen to be less adept at following the machine's rules."
The Times column points out that "It's awkward for Democrats to impugn their own constituents' skills in the voting booth." It sure is, but that doesn't seem to have stopped them, notwithstanding all their earlier comments about Mr. Bush's supposed stupidity.
Arafat and Pinochet: An editorial in today's Times calls for America to indict the former leader of Chile, Agusto Pinochet, in connection with a 1976 assassination in Washington. Well, while the Times is on the subject of indicting foreign leaders for crimes committed in the 1970s, how about indicting Yasser Arafat? Senator Arlen Specter said this month in remarks at the Zionist Organization of America dinner in New York that, personally, he would like to see Mr. Arafat tried in America for the murder of the U.S. charge d'affaires in Sudan in 1974 and for the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, an American murdered on a cruise ship hijacked by Arab terrorists. While the Times editorializes in favor of holding right-wing anti-communist murderers accountable for their crimes, it hardly ever favors holding Soviet-backed Arab murderers accountable for theirs.
Acela Fares: How much is a ride on the new Acela train that runs from Washington to Boston? "Not cheap," the Times tells us in an article in the national section today. The article reports that a ticket is "$143 for business class from Washington to New York, and $217 for first class. New York to Boston is $162 for business class and $248 for first class." A graphic alongside the article says the Acela ticket price for "one-way coach" is $143 for Washington to New York and $120 from New York to Boston. It's difficult to make any sense of this. Does the coach class ticket from Washington to New York really cost the same as the business class ticket? Why does the article mention only the first-class and business-class fares but not the coach class fares that are mentioned in the graphic? And why does Amtrak charge more for the Washington-New York trip than for the New York-Boston trip in coach class, but less for the Washington-New York trip than for the New York-Boston trip in business class and first class?
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