A Failure of Statesmanship
December 6, 2000
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In its lead editorial today, the New York Times is unusually critical of Vice President Gore in connection with Mr. Gore's stance on two lawsuits that seek to throw out absentee votes in Florida's Seminole and Martin counties. The Times says that Mr. Gore's "refusal to forcefully call on his local supporters to drop the suit, or to rule out benefiting from its outcome, represents a failure of statesmanship on his part."
Whoa. Smartertimes.com doesn't think very much of the merit of these lawsuits, and Smartertimes.com thinks Mr. Gore should have conceded the election long ago. But last we checked, this is still a country where there is rule of law. And if the law, as interpreted by the Florida and federal courts, says those absentee ballots in Seminole and Martin should be thrown out, then how does it qualify as "statesmanship" for Mr. Gore to refuse to benefit from the result dictated by the law?
The Times definition of statesmanship seems to be allowing as many votes as possible to count, no matter what the law says. So you haven't seen the Times, in an editorial, urging Mr. Gore to renounce the votes cast for him in Florida by convicted felons, who, under Florida law, are not ordinarily allowed to vote. That would be statesmanlike, but the Times wants to count as many votes as possible. You would never see the Times urging Mr. Gore to renounce winning the election on the basis of "dimpled chads." That would be statesmanlike, but the Times wants to count as many votes as possible.
Remember, it isn't Mr. Gore himself who is seeking to throw out those votes in Martin and Seminole counties, it is his supporters. They probably don't have much of a case. But if the Florida and federal courts decide that they do, it wouldn't be "statesmanship" by Mr. Gore to arrogate to himself the power to overrule those courts and award the election to George W. Bush; it would be stupidity.
St. Albans: The "Liberties" column on the New York Times op-ed page today refers to Mr. Gore's high school as "St. Alban's." The school spells it St. Albans, with no apostrophe.
Mrs. Clinton's "Beanie": A headline on the front of the metro section of today's New York Times about Senator-elect Hillary Clinton's activities on Capitol Hill says, "Beanie in Place, Mrs. Clinton Starts Freshman Orientation." An inside headline reports, "Beanie On, Mrs. Clinton Starts Her Orientation." What's with the beanie references? Mrs. Clinton appears bareheaded in the front-page photograph. The reference to beanies once worn by college freshmen has worn pretty thin. Anyway, she's a senator from New York; if she were wearing that sort of headgear, it wouldn't be a beanie, but a yarmulke.
Wrong Name: An article in the metro section of today's Times about a high school football player charged with third-degree assault for his on-the-field conduct names the player throughout the story as Robert Mammone. All of a sudden, at one point in the story, his last name morphs into "Mamdoes."
Wrong Place: An article in the metro section of today's Times quotes a critic of the New York City schools chancellor, Harold Levy, referring to Mr. Levy as "this appointed hack in Manhattan." As the Times well knows, Mr. Levy operates not from Manhattan but from the Board of Education headquarters in downtown Brooklyn. It's strange for the paper to let this quote pass without comment.
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