The recall initiative in California, according to Governor Gray Davis, "is part of an ongoing national effort by Republicans to steal elections they cannot win." Davis told supporters that the Republicans' power grab started with their attempt to impeach President Clinton in 1998 and continued during the presidential election in Florida in 2000 where Republicans "stopped the vote count, depriving thousands of Americans of the right to vote." "Now," Davis explained, "they want to seize control of California just before the next presidential election,"
Indeed, paranoia of this sort is becoming something of a mantra among Democrats. Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has charged that the White House is secretly behind the California recall movement, adding, "The national Republican strategy of stealing elections through lawyers, loopholes and lies will backfire." The actor Martin Sheen recently told the television show Access Hollywood that "the California recall is an effort to grab the state for the Republicans. I suspect this came out of the White House. Frankly, it makes perfect sense after Florida." Al Sharpton, always good for a pithy turn of phrase, has characterized Republican tactics as: "Let's do it again until I win."
Setting aside the fact that many prominent Republicans have come out against the recall proceedings in California, such revisionism is equal parts Hillary Clinton paranoia and Al Franken fudging. So let's go over the pertinent history one more time, slowly:
1) President Clinton was impeached because he lied under oath (which he did, beyond a shadow of a doubt) and obstructed justice (which he did, beyond a reasonable doubt). He was in the end not removed from office only because Senate Democrats -- either out of conscience, because they did not feel Clinton's transgressions amounted to high crimes or misdemeanors, or out of dogged loyalty -- ignored the evidence and voted along strict party lines to acquit him.
2) Al Gore's Democratic supporters went to court during the Florida election fiasco of 2002 in an attempt to count voter errors -- ballots on which would-be voters failed to follow explicit instructions and punch through their cards cleanly -- as votes. Incredibly, the state's Supreme Court ruled in their favor; the United States Supreme Court was forced to step in, on admittedly shaky Constitutional grounds, to halt the mischief.
Whatever your opinion about the California recall -- I argued against it in a column for the New York Post several weeks ago -- its cause is clearly Davis's own bumbling incompetence. That he and his supporters would distort the recent past to drum up sympathy is further evidence of his unfitness for public office, and of their partisan desperation to cling to power.
Mark Goldblatt's novel, Africa Speaks, is available in paperback (E-mail: Mgold57@aol.com).