MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yes, in the end the 2000 presidential election was decided by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision. That was the only vote that mattered in putting George W. Bush in the White House, despite the fact that he lost the national popular vote to Al Gore by well over a half a million votes.
The US Constitution set up an electoral system by which the winner of the election could lose the popular vote and still gain the majority of electoral votes. A presidential election is based on a contest for electoral votes in 50 different states, so a candidate can roll up large popular margins in some states while losing electoral votes to a candidate who won by narrower margins in other states.
A presidential election outcome in which the candidate who lost the national popular vote ended up in the White House has only happened four times. Al Gore was the candidate who received the largest popular vote margin - 544,000 more votes than Bush - who was not sworn in as president.
Recall that the governor of Florida during the 2000 election - who played a key role in creating the scenario that led up to the 5-4 Supreme Court vote for George W. Bush to become president - was Jeb Bush.
Jeb assisted with his brother's campaign, accompanied by Karl Rove as the sinister strategist and James Baker as the "respected" legal face of the pulverizing of Gore's victory (which was declared by NBC and other networks based on exit polling, and then reversed). It was FOX, of course, that was first to call Florida - and its decisive 25 electoral votes in 2000 - for Bush, based on a highly suspect few-hundred-vote statewide margin that dwindled as the counting continued.
How did Jeb play a vital role in setting the stage for creating enough voter suppression, chaos and pushback against a Gore victory to allow the theft of the 2000 election? Since BuzzFlash began publication in May of 2000, we vigourously reported and exposed Bush campaign dirty tricks in Florida before and after the November balloting, so Jeb's role is seared into our memory bank.
Let's just note a few of Jeb's actions that set the stage for the anointment of his brother as president:
Under Jeb's governorship, Florida Secretary of State Kathryn Harris implemented a so-called felon purge (felons, unfortunately, are almost always disenfranchised in Florida) of the state's voter registration list through a firm called ChoicePoint. However, the denial of the right to vote as a result of the pre-election striking of names of voters included - by intention - the names of people who weren't felons but had similar names. If this voter suppression had not been implemented, it is very possible that Gore would have won Florida flat out by thousands more votes.
Jeb allowed, or perhaps even told, Kathryn Harris to certify his brother as the winner of the Florida presidential election even though the vote count was still being challenged legally and a court-mandated recount was imminent. Harris's declaration on November 27, 2000, created a media meme that Bush was the "official" winner, even though the outcome of the election - due to thousands and thousands of uncertain ballots - was still in doubt.
It was confirmed that calls from Jeb and George to cousin John Ellis, who was "advising" the FOX election "decision desk," led to FOX calling the Florida election for George W. Bush at 2:16 AM on the Wednesday morning after election day. Not wanting to be scooped by FOX, the other major media outlets quickly followed suit.
These are just three examples of thievish actions Jeb Bush took that created a context of "official victory" that allowed Antonin Scalia to lead the Supreme Court in a 5-4 coup, halting a recount in Florida and nullifying the votes of the US electorate that likely would have resulted in a Gore victory.
The website mediastudy points out the importance of John Ellis's role in FOX's declaration that George W. had won Florida:
The US presidential election was a celebration of the triumph of media over matter.
To an objective observer, two facts are clear: Gore won the nationwide popular vote, and according to a recent Miami Herald analysis, he was also in all likelihood the favorite of Florida voters as well...
In a fair count, without shenanigans or election irregularities, the Miami Herald estimated Gore would have won Florida by 23,000 votes. The Bush strategy all along was to prevent a recount and run out the clock.
Jeb Bush wasn't just the governor of Florida in 2000; he was a key orchestrator and strategist in the theft of the Florida election on behalf of his brother. It was Jeb who tee'd up the ball and let Antonin Scalia hit it into the stands on behalf of George W. Bush.
BuzzFlash has interviewed Kevin Phillips, a former Nixon adviser turned author who specializes in exposing financial inequity and political corruption, about some of his books. Phillips went through a political conversion; he began seeing the grave danger to democracy posed by thuggish Wall Street firms and frivolous political horse races.
We recall talking with Phillips about his book, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush. He told us that the Bush family has only excelled at two things: corporate cronyism and stealing elections.
Remember that observation the next time you see Jeb Bush patronize voters and make a mockery of US democracy.
Not to be reposted without permission of Truthout.