Thanks to Republican resignation, Al Franken is close to becoming the monster the right has long dreaded.
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“If [Coleman] keeps up the fight, he is likely to lose, unnecessarily deprive Minnesota of a second senator, end his political career seen as a sore loser, and hurt his party in a state that is eager for this fight to be over. His team has talked enough about further legal challenges that if he leaves now, he will get some points for grace. (Needless to say, that sentiment would not be universal.) But this is, I think, the last moment where he can exit with some dignity.”
So, whether Franken is the rightful victor takes a back seat to political expediency and a false sense of urgency.
The very formidable Power Line blogger Scott W. Johnson, a Minneapolis lawyer, argues not only that it’s over for Coleman, but also that Franken did not steal the election:
“I admire Coleman’s public service and believe he has been an outstanding senator. But since the election, the Coleman campaign has put on a performance that conveys a strong impression of complacency and ineptitude; the Franken campaign outhustled and outsmarted it.”
Johnson also asserts that “[f]rom the outset of the post-election process, the Coleman campaign was remarkably passive in its approach to the recount.”
As Johnson shares his otherwise cogent analysis and rattles off a litany of Coleman’s missed opportunities, his reasoning seems to suffer from a kind of lawyerly tunnel-vision. There is an undue focus on the niceties of legal process and not enough said about the appalling irregularities that characterized both the initial and subsequent vote-counting in the allegedly clean-elections state.
To list every single known irregularity might require a book at this point, but suffice it to say, there were plenty of them. To provide an overview, let’s recount what went on early in the counting process, while a national audience was still paying somewhat close attention to the election. Ballots were discovered in an election judge’s car and other votes appeared as if by magic across the state. One county discovered 100 new votes for Franken and blamed a clerical error. Another had vote tallies 177 higher than the total recorded on Election Day. Another county reported 133 fewer votes than its voting machines recorded. Almost every time new ballots materialized, or tallies were updated or corrected, Franken benefited.
The excellent research performed by John Lott, senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, who exhaustively documented the countless logic-defying decisions used by officials during the original count and the recount process, threw light on many of the irregularities.
As Lott wrote, the morning after the election, Coleman led Franken by 725 votes. As ACORN-aligned Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a former community organizer, presided over the process, over the next five days, Coleman’s lead had dwindled to just 221. Election officials claimed they had to correct typos on vote tally sheets and that these corrections gave Franken 435 votes and took 69 away from Coleman.
As Lott noted at the time, this massive vote-switch was if not statistically impossible, highly improbable. He wrote that in Minnesota, “corrections were posted in other races, but they were only a fraction of those for the Senate.” Franken’s Senate vote gains were “2.5 times the gain for Obama in the presidential race count, 2.9 times the total gain that Democrats got across all Minnesota congressional races, and 5 times the net loss that Democrats suffered for all state House races.”
As Lott noted Nov. 10, almost all of Franken’s new votes came from three out of the state’s 4,130 precincts, and nearly half the new 246 Franken votes came from one heavily Democratic precinct in Two Harbors. Barack Obama won the precinct with 64% of the vote but “[n]one of the other races had any changes in their vote totals in that precinct.”
None of this has ever been adequately explained. It probably never will be, but it’s just a small sample of everything that went wrong in this closely contested Senate battle.
So how does all of this jibe with Johnson’s arguments? Surely even if we accept the suggestion that Coleman’s lawyers were awful, it does not follow that Coleman should necessarily now throw in the towel.
But that’s what Johnson is arguing. His argument appears to boil down to this: Coleman didn’t hire good enough lawyers so he deserves what he got.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?