Sixties-L members, Greg Dobbs, my colleague in Denver, is an Emmy award-winning former foreign correspondent for ABC News, a liberal radio talk show host, and today, among other responsibilities, he is a columnist for The Denver Post. The Post rejected this column because the editors viewed it as a possible Pandora's Box, but I'm sharing it with you because it raises some interesting thoughts and insights about the current election brouhaha. Brent Green QUIT WHILE YOU'RE AHEAD. That^^s the unvarying blueprint of George Bush and his backers. And why not? In the raw Florida vote, they^^re ahead. Inarguably, if the shoe were on the other foot, Al Gore^^s side would be doing precisely the same thing, and the Bush camp would be fighting it tooth and nail. But no matter which side you're on, the question is, is the raw vote the real vote? Apparently not. That^^s what this high stakes dispute is all about, and why the candidate who pledged to bring ^^honor and dignity^^ to the White House is such a hypocrite. Look at the sequence of key events. In the waning hours of Election Night, a big Gore lead in Florida gave way to a big Bush lead, then the final figures contradicted everyone^^s exit polls and fell well within the state^^s legal requirement for a mechanical recount. They also permitted the candidates to legally -- remember that word, LEGALLY -- request manual recounts in counties where statistical anomalies raised doubt about the results. Working within that law, Al Gore made those requests, and sure enough, sample recounts produced sufficiently significant changes to justify manual recounts countywide. Yet George Bush, who had endorsed manual recounts in his own state as the best way to determine winners in close races, now called them ^^neither fair nor accurate.^^ Weird, huh? With two observers from each party inspecting each ballot and countless cameras peeking over their shoulders, manual recounts would be carried out under the closest scrutiny in the history of American elections. Then, the man whose mantra was ^^We trust the people, they trust the Government^^ mongered the fear that the Gore camp would throw the whole election into the hands of the judicial branch. But who was first to take his recount complaints to court? Bush! He lost there, but not in the executive branch, where the Florida Secretary of State -- and Bush^^s statewide campaign co-chairwoman--- arbitrarily rejected the counties^^ documented justifications to recount. Yes, the candidate who campaigned for ^^local control^^ feverishly fought to take it away from local election commissioners. The Gore campaign asked no more than the law allows. Yet despite what the whole world can plainly see is a remarkably close count -- an official difference of just a few hundred votes out of 6 million cast -- the Bush camp kept claiming there was no reason to wait for precinct recounts or the resolution of other outstanding issues. Like the circumstances in Palm Beach County: more than 3,400 votes in a traditionally liberal constituency for Reform candidate Pat Buchanan, while he didn't get even 1,000 votes in any other county. The Bush side suggests this is consistent with the votes cast in the last election for Reform's founder Ross Perot... as if Perot^^s supporters would naturally shift their allegiance to the right winger who hijacked their party. Objectively, although most of us cannot see how anyone could make the mistake, and although officials from both parties approved it, the complaints of a confusing ballot cannot honestly be ignored. Bush partisans complain that if hand counts and anomalies like Palm Beach have to be resolved, it means an unconscionable delay. What^^s the rush? Electors don^^t gather for another month, and inauguration day is two months away. We have a sitting president, and anyway, if not for the election stalemate, the President-elect right now probably would be on vacation. The Bush campaign is just trying to railroad a result before we can all be sure the real result is in. Al Gore isn^^t insisting on recounts ^^until he gets a result he likes;^^ what he does seek is for all votes to be counted. If you think they already have been, you^^re not paying attention. New Mexico just this past week found a misread tabulation that changed the outcome by almost 500 votes. An Iowa county discovered a ^^data entry^^ error that gave an additional 900-plus votes ... to Bush. In Florida^^s Volusha County the hand count changed totals by nearly a hundred. The statewide mechanical recount cut the difference between the two candidates roughly in half. If we don^^t rush to judgment, errors will be uncovered and accuracy will be enhanced. Isn^^t that what everyone should want? Yet despite all this, George Bush acts like the nation cannot afford it. For a ^^uniter, not a divider,^^ he sure has a funny way of uniting America^^s parties and its people. If he does win, I can hardly wait to see how he deals with an almost evenly divided Congress. The good news is, this is NOT a constitutional crisis. We've been through worse -- does "Watergate" ring a bell? Each time, we affirm that we live in a nation of laws, not men. We'll affirm it again, no matter the outcome. As a longtime foreign correspondent, I was reminded almost wherever I went -- mostly to communist and third world dictatorships -- how lucky we are. Here's a dispute over the biggest, most important, most powerful job in the world, and we're working it out with nothing more hostile than angry rhetoric. Ultimately there will be a conclusive decision, and ultimately, the losing side -- whichever it is -- will unhappily but peacefully abide by it.
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