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Bush’s Way of Earning Political Capital

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Two days after the 2004 election, George Bush held a news conference and declared, "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it".

Pardon me? He earned political capital in the 2000 election where he lost the popular vote to Al Gore by 500,000? Only an extremely arrogant, self righteous person could possibly spin losing the popular vote into "earning political capital".

Despite the fact that the mainstream media portrayed the 2004 election as a trouncing of John Kerry, and a mandate for George Bush, a more detailed analysis of the election might suggest that Bush earned as little, or less political capital in 2004 as he did in 2000. But the mainstream press had no stomach for it, and the White House likes it that way.

At the same news conference right after the 2004 election, Bush said this to the White House correspondents before him - "I want to thank you all for your hard work in the campaign. I told you that the other day, and you probably thought I was just seeking votes. (Laughter from the press). But now that you voted, I really meant it. I appreciate the hard work of the press corps. We all put in long hours, and you're away from your families for a long period of time. But the country is better off when we have a vigorous and free press covering our elections. And thanks for your work. Without over-pandering, I'll answer a few questions". (Laughter from the press).

So much for the Independent Media in America.

After dividing the nation along party lines, and setting Democrats and Republicans at each other's throats during the run-up to the election, the Republican Party still felt they needed to cheat in order to win. Bush's approval was already below 50% before the election, an ominous sign for a sitting president who was coming up for reelection. This may have been the major impetus for Republicans in several critical states to step well over the line of honest electioneering.

In the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has written a controversial article that has been ignored by the mainstream press and vilified in many online forums. The major points made by Kennedy have been made before but are certainly worth reviewing in brief.

Major alleged GOP tactics in Ohio:

1) Massive purging of the voter rolls, removing many legitimate voters and thus preventing them from voting.
2) Putting in place absurd requirements for voter registration including insisting that registrations only be submitted on a particularly heavy-weight paper. Registrations submitted on lighter-weight paper were discarded.
3) Unequal distribution of voting machines to various districts resulting in exceptionally long lines, and wait times of hours in urban, Democratic precincts. This contrasts with adequate numbers of voting machines in Republican districts where there were much shorter lines.
4) Many voter registration cards were never processed and therefore potential voters were never added to the voting rolls, with the majority of new registrations being Democratic.
5) The Republicans also used the tactic known as "Caging", which was outlawed in the 1980s after the Republicans used it then in New Jersey and Louisiana. The Republicans brought caging back to Ohio in 2004. The tactic involves sending mail to registered voters that you hope to knock from the polling lists. If the recipients did not respond to the mailings, which might look like junk mail to some, their names were removed from the voter rolls. This was done only 11 days before the election, giving voters very little time to respond, obviously on purpose.

This list goes on, including the fact that the exit polls and the final tallies varied dramatically, more so than any other recent election. Also, as occurred with Katherine Harris in Florida in the 2000 vote, Kenneth Blackwell was both the Secretary of State of Ohio in charge of elections, while simultaneously being the cochair of the Bush Cheney reelection campaign in Ohio.

Farhad Manjoo at Salon.com takes on Kennedy, and makes every excuse possible for the election fraud that occurred in Ohio, something you might expect from the mainstream conservative media, rather than the so-called liberal media. He makes a few good points on detail, but he repeatedly excuses the inexcusable occurrences in the 2004 election throughout his article, and derides Kennedy for even bringing the subject up.

Manjoo's entire thesis was that no matter how you divvied up the fraud, incompetence and malfeasance on Election Day in Ohio in 2004, it still would not have tipped the balance in favor of Kerry. Is that the real issue here" that perhaps the blatant fraud in Ohio in 2004 was not enough to award victory to John Kerry? If so, then our democratic system is in far greater danger than I had suspected. When people accept rampant voter fraud orchestrated by the highest levels of a state government, in this case Kenneth Blackwell and the Ohio GOP, then we have basically thrown up our arms and said "Who cares? They're all a bunch of crooks anyway!" If America has truly become that unconcerned with the legitimacy and integrity of our voting system, then we deserve whatever negative consequences follow from that egregious level of civic disregard.

Manjoo spent most of his time picking apart Kennedy's weaker arguments, not by proving them false, but by saying that Kennedy's numbers were exaggerated, and therefore even with all the corruption, the election still would not have gone to John Kerry. In one particularly pathetic argument against Kennedy, Manjoo states that the lack of voter machines in key Democratic precincts was merely due to "incompetence", rather than to "a GOP plot". So at best, officials in Ohio are incompetent, and at worst they are corrupt. Somehow that doesn't seem like a situation worth defending.

What Manjoo failed utterly to prove was the obverse of Kennedy's thesis, that is, that the election in Ohio in 2004 was not stolen. He merely makes the case that Kennedy did not prove that it was. This is no small distinction. For anyone interested in more details on the Ohio 2004 election, you should read the book "Fooled Again", by Mark Crispin Miller. He details additional facts not even brought up by Kennedy, including how overseas ballots were handled in the 2004 election.

Republicans in New Hampshire have already been convicted and sentenced for their role in phone jamming Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks in the 2002 election. Charles McGee, the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, admitted at trial - "I might think of an idea of disrupting those operations. Eventually the idea coalesced into disrupting their phone lines . . . [it's] military common sense that if you can't communicate, you can't plan and organize."

This is how the GOP operates when they try to win elections.

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John R. Moffett PhD is a research neuroscientist in the Washington, DC area. Dr. Moffett's main area of research focuses on the brain metabolite N-acetylaspartate, and an associated genetic disorder known as Canavan disease.

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