Friday, October 22, 2004

Wishful and Slippery Thinking at The New Republic

Ryan Lizza writes this:
It looks like the race is down to ten swing states: Florida (27 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (21 votes), Ohio (20), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Iowa (7), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), West Virginia, and New Hampshire (4). Assuming the other 40 states are out of play, Kerry has 217 electoral votes wrapped up, and Bush has 208.
Ha, ha! Reputable polls, such as Rasmussen's, have it the other way around (Bush 220, Kerry 190).

Lizza goes on to envision a tie in the Electoral College, which would throw the election into the House of Representatives. His take:
Almost half the country still thinks Bush's presidency is illegitimate. There probably isn't a way for a second Bush term to seem more illegitimate in the eyes of Democrats than his first term than for this election to be decided by the House, a far more partisan and less respected institution than the Supreme Court. But it could happen.
Where did he get that bit about almost half the country thinking Bush's presidency is illegitimate? Source, please.

And so what if the House is partisan? It's supposed to be partisan; it's an elective body. Why would it be illegitimate for the House to decide the election in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution? I can see the headlines in the liberal press: Bush Re-elected by House, Madison's Scheme to Blame!

UPDATED - 10/28/04, 12:48 PM (CT):
I wasn't the only blogger to note Lizza's slippery (sloppy?) thinking about the election going to the House. As Lizza admits today:
LEGITIMATE POINT: Mickey Kaus is taking me to task for writing that an electoral college tie decided in Bush's favor by the House of Representatives would be seen as more illegitimate to Democrats than Bush's first term. Just to make it clear, I don't think it would be illegitimate--just as I don't think Bush's first term was--but I was saying that Democrats would see it that way.

But Mickey is right. It's silly to argue that the result of a process carefully spelled out in the Constitution could be construed as illegitimate. And, thinking it over, I imagine most Democrats would accept such a result--as long as Bush also wins the popular vote. What I should have said is that if the race ends in an electoral college tie and a popular vote victory for Kerry, then a House-decided win for Bush would be seen as illegitimate by many Democrats, who would argue that the House thwarted the will of the majority. But I admit that what I wrote, which was unfortunately quoted in The Washington Post, was sort of dopey....
I heartily agree with Lizza that what he wrote was dopey. He's right, however, that Dems would see a Bush victory in the House as illegitimate -- which says a lot about the Dems and their willingness to subvert the Constitution when they don't get what they want.