Tuesday, September 28, 2004

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Jimmy Carter, meet Jane Galt

Jimmy Carter wrote a snarky op-ed in the Washington Post about Florida's voting system, arguing that, "some basic international requirements for a fair election are missing in Florida."

Megan Mcardle, a.k.a. Jane Galt, posts a rejoinder over at Asymmetrical Information. Some snark is involved.

posted by Dan on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM


"Some tu quoque is involved" is more like it. If Florida's elections are being rigged, by the people responsible for running them, then... that's wrong.

Attacking Jimmy Carter for bringing this to your attention is, at best, an argument that two wrongs make a right.

posted by: Scott Forbes on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

Allowing Ralph Nader to run in an election cannot possibly be called "rigging" it, unless ones definition of a fair election is "One where the Democrat has a better chance of winning."

posted by: David Nieporent on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

Well even in my european world this speech would have been caled anti-democracy... seems he has a very peculiar view of democratic process, maybe he could ask next time for Republicans to not be allowed to race, afterall they are getting democratic vote too...

posted by: lucklucky on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

What Scott Forbes said.

Seems to be a standard Republican tactic these days: if something's going wrong, attack the person who brings it to your attention.

posted by: Jesurgislac on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

I think Carter has done some good things since he left office, but he needs to be a little less self-absorbed. Jimmy Carter is not the standard for fair elections. But the fact is, we have probably never had fair elections by his standard. Does anyone remember Chicago under the original Mayor Daley? How about Texas when LBJ outstole his election to the Senate? That doesn't make it right, of course, but I tire a little of Carter's sanctimony (and I'm a Democrat).

posted by: MWS on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

The response to Carter seems silly and baseless. Having fair elections depends on those elections having rules and those rules being followed. Putting Nader on the ballot is either following the rules or not following the rules. The question is not more or less democratic.

If we want to talk about more or less democratic, then let's talk about the biggest crime against democracy in our country today...the electoral college.

And the reason that Carter is talking about Florida is because that is what he was investigating. And it was chosen because it was a special case where a large set of things did not happen according to the rules of the election.

If you want to talk about other examples of unfair elections than that is fine, but you can't blame Carter for being selective in the example that he is going to write about.

posted by: Rich on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

It's pretty clear that all is NOT on the up and up in Florida. To find out for yourself,

Read this

And this

There's also a very good article, in either Vanity Fair or New Yorker, don't remember which - perhaps someone else here might have the link?

At any rate, Jane Galt is so clearly unprofessional in her "response", it is completely laughable.

For example, Carter is guilty of "lumping Florida in with places like Saddam Hussein's Iraq". That is, shall we say, a VERY creative interpretation of Carter's article. Her whole response hinges on these type of , breathless, clouded exaggerations. The facts are nearly nonexistent in Galt's piece.

But read the links above for yourself. Which is more honest, relying on the facts in the case? If someone can find the Vanity Fair/New Yorker in depth article, that would be great too.

posted by: JC on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

Carter knows what he is speaking about.

It seems that 24 of the 25 counties in
Florida with the highest ballet spoilage
rate had DEMOCRAT supervisors. The 25th
had an Independent supervisor.

Carter, being a democrat, know that the
the registration fraud and vote stealing
by his own party that is the real danger.

They can't cheat if the vote isn't close.

For those of you who will doubt my party
statistics should check out today's Wall
Street Journal.

posted by: pragmatist on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

Jimmy Carter has always had difficulty separating his aspirations to sainthood from his instincts as a Democratic partisan. It's true he never really accepted the legitimacy of George Bush's election in 2000, but then he never really accepted Ronald Reagan's election either.

Having said that....look, any objective analysis of the way Florida voted last time and proposes to vote this time will disclose a lot of problems that should not exist in a society in which elections are as important as they are in ours. And Florida is not the only state with election procedures that make it unacceptably easy for votes not to be counted, eligible people to be denied the vote, ineligible people to be allowed to vote, or all three.

Congress and the states were given fair warning after the 2000 election that this was an issue that had to be addressed. For the most part they did not address it, with the reasons having mostly to do with unwillingness to spend the money and change procedures that people are used to. It's not a proud record, and it's one that will get us into trouble every time we have a close election.

posted by: Zathras on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

Rich wrote:

Having fair elections depends on those elections having rules and those rules being followed.


If we want to talk about more or less democratic, then let's talk about the biggest crime against democracy in our country today...the electoral college.

There is a contradiction here. Election via the Electoral College is clearly following the rules.

posted by: Bruce Cleaver on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

Rich: The Electoral College is democratic. It's just not directly democratic.

The Electors for each state are chosen democratically, are they not? The fact that the decision is then made by the Electors does not make the process un-democratic; it's merely a reflection of the intentionally federal structure of our government. Democratic methods at the state level preserve democracy, and the federal system helps smaller states have influence that would otherwise be entirely eaten up by California, NY, Florida, and Texas in a direct-vote system.

posted by: Sigivald on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

If Jane Gault had actually written about what Carter said rather than making up a bunch of "snarky" comments that she could falsely
attribute to him her comments might have actually been worth reading rather than a complete waste of time.

posted by: spencer on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

Putting Nader on the ballot is either following the rules or not following the rules. The question is not more or less democratic.

That doesn't quite mesh with the debate over the 2000 election. The Florida Supreme Court, with the approval of Democrats, ran roughshod over the rules, throwing out deadlines and inventing new requirements willy-nilly in an attempt to promote democracy at the expense of rules.

And it doesn't quite mesh with Carter's argument about the 2000 election; he says "Several thousand ballots of African Americans were thrown out on technicalities in 2000." Those "technicalities" are otherwise known as "the rules."

And it doesn't quite mesh with Carter's argument re: Nader, either. He doesn't argue that it was against the rules; he can't, because he had no basis for such a claim. (Indeed, the Florida Supreme Court already ruled in favor of putting him on the ballot before Carter's Op/Ed.) He argued that it was partisan to do so because it would hurt Democrats.

Moreover, if one were really worried about fraudulent elections vs. legitimate ones, one wouldn't oppose requirements that people show ID in order to vote.

posted by: David Nieporent on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

I think the fact that F911 is one of Carter's two favorite movies tells you everything you need to about his objectivity and commitment to the truth.

posted by: Matthew Cromer on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

David Nieporent - Enlighten me. What "rule" says it's legal to purge the rolls of voters who the people doing the purging consider likely to vote for a particular party?

posted by: CaseyL on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]


I'm surprised nobody has raised the issue
whether Carter is qualified to be saying anything about elections strictly
because of his record at "monitoring" elections overseas.  I know
personally what happened in Venezuela. I think he pulled the same stunt in
Indonesia earlier this year judging from this post: "Carter: I Don't See Anything Wrong with Generals Running the Country".
For details on Carter's monumental screw-up in Venezuela's presidential recall referendum, see Mary Anastasia
O'Grady's article in the WSJ:
Observers Rush to Judgment
Jimmy Carter gets rolled--first by Fidel Castro, now by Hugo Chávez.  This tells you something about Jimmy Carter's
astuteness in dealing with people.

When Jimmy Carter went to Cuba in 2002, Fidel Castro reveled in the
photo-ops with a former U.S. president. Mr. Carter seemed to think he was heroically "engaging" the Cuban despot. But in the documentary "Dissident,"
celluloid captures something most Americans didn't see: Castro giggling
sardonically as Mr. Carter lectures the Cuban politburo on democracy. That
foreshadowed what happened when the media splash ended and the former
president went home: Dissidents he went to "help" today languish in gulag
punishment cells.

Why should you care what happened in Vzla? 
Again, Ms. O'Grady provides the following answer :

Venezuela's Oil-for-MiGs Program.
  Chavez might be Castro with oil
money, and he is ready to spread his ideology to the rest of South America. And Carter certified his dubious win.

In the all too familiar tradition of appeasing the neighborhood bully, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has been granted "legitimacy" by the Organization of American States and Jimmy Carter.
Well supported charges that the president rigged the voting to avoid a recall have not been refuted, but Venezuelans are being told to get over it.

The only question now is how long it will
take before the hemisphere's democracies have reason to regret the free pass given to Mr. Chávez.

A survey of the region suggests it won't
be long. Not only might a showdown be brewing at home but Mr. Chávez seems fully prepared to menace neighboring states. Some of his targets, Bolivia for example, appear to be cowed. Another, Colombia, is in his cross-hairs.
A Sept. 14 United Press International story quoted a Venezuelan military intelligence
officer saying that his country is "heading toward a war with Colombia." ...

On Monday, the Russian Business Monitor
reported that "Venezuela plans to spend approximately $5 billion on
acquisition of Russian fighters including purchase of armament, airdrome and airborne equipment." ....

The OAS and the Carter Center may one day be sorry that they rushed to validate the results of the recall vote.


posted by: LGL on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

David Nieporent - Enlighten me. What "rule" says it's legal to purge the rolls of voters who the people doing the purging consider likely to vote for a particular party?

I think that would be the law preventing convicted felons who were legally disenfranchised from voting.

I do wonder at the argument against requiring photo ID in order to vote. This is certainly far from foolproof as any under-age college student can tell you, but it would be a good first line filter against voter fraud...if you ignore all the problems with absentee ballots.

posted by: Gedanken on 09.28.04 at 01:07 AM [permalink]

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