Robert Bennett: History of the Bush vs. Gore election

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  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    July 11, 2012 4:53 p.m.

    Unbelievable, this blatant whitewashing comes as conservatives blast a supposed "conservative" judge for ruling against thier wishes. "He must be having seizures".

    This selfassurance that "thier" judges rule "thier" way comes at the same time they try to justify that the supreme court was fair in Bush vs. Gore ? No of course "conservative" judges would;'nt be conservative.... they would be fair...

    Conflicted much?

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    July 10, 2012 9:02 p.m.

    World War II ended the depression not the new deal. And if Gore wanted the votes recounted why did he only do it in certian counties that were democrat not every county. Inconsistencies there.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 10, 2012 12:38 p.m.

    That election showed that if Democrats were to win again they would have to win decisively, otherwise it would be taken from them. Obama won becaue he won in that manner. But in the larger view, we have two business parties the Republicans (more) and Democrats (slightly less). We need the reemergence of socialist parties, and the sooner the better. We socialists don't expect to win the presidency, but we sure can influence policy, like in the 1930's. There never would have been the New Deal reforms without socialist pressure.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    July 9, 2012 10:39 p.m.

    @ ECR and Brother Chuck

    You fail to mention that over a million votes were not counted in California (many from the military) because the outcome for the electoral college wasn't in jeopardy but if you insist on a popular vote instead of the electoral college, Gore's points from California would disappear and Bush may well have won the total popular vote in the country. What I recall as being unfair was all the military absentee ballots Gore insisted not be counted----from the guy who thought he ought to be the Commander-in-Chief. Now that's rich........!!! Just admit that the sudden sentiment starting just moments after the Supreme Court ruling in Bush's favor that Gore won the popular vote can't be proven to be either right or wrong. We just don't know. And really, shouldn't voters have to be smart enough to know how to punch the ballot....I mean really............!!

  • DVD Taylorsville, 00
    July 9, 2012 10:28 p.m.

    Interesting selection of comments, and unfortunately, it somewhat works agsinst my proposal that writers of the Deseret News interact more with the comments section. At least the 'I'm writing just to lash out' folks are working against it.

    Some of you make sense with both sides of the argument, however, and I hope that bolsters the idea of more writers interacting with us, and perhaps getting more online newspaper readership going, in a more participatory sense.

    @brother chuck, National elections would become a contest centered in the major cities only. The electoral college was one of the reasons the more rural states even agreed to form a union called the United States. Otherwise they'd get drowned out by the tyranny of the majority and would have much less reason to remain in the union except in times of aan overwhelming common foe.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 9, 2012 4:48 p.m.

    The 1787 Constitutional Convention rejected selection of a President by Congress because it worked against executive branch independence from the legislative branch. Direct election by the people was opposed by Southern states because population was greater in the Northern states. An electoral college whose sole purpose would be to choose a President was actually a compromise. Even then, some delegates thought it was dumb idea.

  • HS Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    July 9, 2012 4:07 p.m.

    Skeletor lives to spew babble another day!!

  • mightyhunterhaha Kaysville, UT
    July 9, 2012 3:50 p.m.

    You would vote to end the Electoral College until the day arrived that your vote was overrode by a majority from a large state. The Electoral College exists to balance the California's and New York's with Kansas and Alaska.This is why to Founding Fathers created a House and a Senate. Balance.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    July 9, 2012 12:02 p.m.

    Since Senator Bennett considers himself a history buff, he should make more of an effort to get his history right. And the state-wide recount, performed by The National Opinion Research Center did show that Bush would have won, if the recount had followed the criteria the Gore campaign wanted. But Bush would not have won if the recount had been done according to other criteria.
    It was an exceptionally close election, and about 175,000 ballots were questioned. So what constituted a valid vote? The NORC study looked at a number of different criteria. The most reasonable examination of the available evidence suggests that Gore probably won.
    The Gore campaign made a major error in insisting that the recount only take place in counties where Gore was thought to have an advantage. This was both unfair, and, as it happens, a losing strategy. But given how high the stakes were, the Supreme Court should have ordered a state-wide recount, and set out some strong criteria for how it should be conducted. Had they done so, Gore could well have won.
    I would add that Al Gore deserves credit for his patriotism in conceding as graciously as he did.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 9, 2012 11:21 a.m.

    J Thompson,

    "....The Supreme Court is the FINAL word on law in America. When it rules, no one can further dispute its ruling."

    Disputing a Supreme Court ruling is not disputing its authority to make that ruling. The 1857 Dred Scott decision ruled that slaves were not citizens entitled to protection under the Constitution. It took the 14th Amendment to rectify that.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    July 9, 2012 11:05 a.m.


    As Mike Richards said, the Supreme Court (in most cases) is an appellate court. It decides who is right AFTER lower courts have ruled. If it ruled that you or I could not have a BBQ in our backyard, it would only rule after other courts had already ruled.

    We are a nation of laws. When we turn to sensational authors for rulings on our "laws", we are in trouble. Public opinion has nothing to do with the law. Look at Nazi Germany. The people were mesmerized by Hitler. He had the ability to captivate them. They believed HIM, instead of holding him responsible to uphold their laws. Look what happened to the world when popularity was more important than following laws.

    The author you cited also wrote "Helter Skelter", a book that no judge would ever rely on to determine the guilt or innocence of Charles Manson. Truman Capote wrote "In Cold Blood", another sensational book about mass murder. Those books were interesting but hardly something that should sway judges in legal matters.

    The Supreme Court is the FINAL word on law in America. When it rules, no one can further dispute its ruling.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    July 9, 2012 10:37 a.m.

    VST - I find it disturbiung the you and Mike Richards seem to be promoting the idea that the Supreme Court can do no wrong. That they are the sovereign authority in all matters.

    So let's be dramatic. If you were having a nice family BBQ in the back yard and the Supreme Court issued an order saying you were doing wrong and the police came and forced you to stop your party, that would be OK?

    If you read the essay by Bugliosi you will find that what they did was no different, expect for the fact that it impacted an entire nation rather then just you are your family. They had no legal justification for stopping the vote counting. They only had their political desires. If you don't beleive me then ask yourself the question I already asked - Would it have happened if Gore was the apparent winner and he was the one filing suit to stop the counting? We all know what the answer to that question is.

    It is over and done with and we should move on, but Senator Bennett's attempt to justify it only rubs salt in our national wounds.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 9, 2012 10:31 a.m.

    Al Gore himself in a televised address on the day the ruling came down accepted the decision although adding that he stronly disagreed with it. That was a statesmanlike act he made knowing that it was in the country's interest for him to calm rather than further incite a public that was torn apart over the bitter controversy.

    In marked contrast was Anton Scalia's reply to someone questioning the decision. "Oh, God! Get over it," Scalia said.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 9, 2012 10:30 a.m.


    It looks like we're going to have to agree to disagree.

    Yes, Bugliosi won a lot of cases, but that does not mean that his book is the law. It is far from being a "legal paper".

    The Supreme Court is an Appellate Court. When cases are appelled, it acts.

    Read carefully the day by day account of the events from November 7th to December 13th, when Gore conceded the election. Note the numerous "irregularities" where some absentee ballots were not counted, where "Judge Jorge Labarga ruled that so-called "dimpled chads" cannot be summarily excluded from the Palm Beach manual recount", where Judge Sanders Sauls ordered about 14,000 disputed ballots from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties brought to him in Tallahassee, where Democrats tried to say that Cheney was a resident of Texas (not Wyoming) so that ballots with his name on it could not be counted.

    The Florida court system almost got away with throwing an election. Almost. The Supreme Court heard the appeals and then ruled against the Florida courts, dimpled chads notwithstanding.

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    July 9, 2012 10:29 a.m.

    I BELIEVE that the Electoral College should be banned, and just go with the one that received more popular votes only.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    July 9, 2012 9:59 a.m.

    Mike Richards - Vincent Bugliosi is a former prosecutor who obtained 105 guilty verdicts from 106 cases including the conviction of Charles Manson. He is a respected legal authority and he certainly knows more about the law than you or me. He is one lawyer who had the courage to speak openly about the groos miscarriage of justice in Bush vs. Gore.

    I accept that George Bush won the election as the eventual completed vote count indicated. George Bush was the fourth president to lose the popular vote but win the electoral vote. That is how the election works and I accept that.

    What I don't accept is the court stepping in with no basis to do so and stopping the recount of votes. How would the recount have harmed the people of Florida for whom an "Equal Protection" ruling supposedly served? Bugliosi pointed that out when no one else was willing to step up. The gang of five in the Supreme Court usurped their own authority in this case and in the end, the country and our legacy of free and fare elections was harmed, regardless of the final outcome.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 9, 2012 9:25 a.m.


    Who is Bugliosi that anyone should accept his opinion as binding?

    He is an attorney and an author. He ran for the office of District Attorney in L.A. County and lost - twice.

    What did he do? He turned to writing. There is nothing wrong with writing but his version of the "facts" reads more like a pulp fiction novel than an historical tome. He is not a member of the Court. Read his book, "Helter Skelter" and then tell us how it differs from all the other books that sensationalized mass murder. He wrote that Paula Jones should not have had the right to bring suit against Clinton - because Clinton was President. His ideas about "equality" are severely distorted.

    The Court is the final arbitrator of law in the United States. Mr. Bugliosi can stomp his feet and slant his writing to show that HE is the final arbitrator, but you and I know that Bugliosi is a failed candidate who joined the "sensational writer's club" to make a buck.

    You can hold him up as your hero, but I don't find his "work" to be worth reading.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 9, 2012 8:45 a.m.

    Fact check.

    Senator Bennett's recollection of what happened is selective. The Supreme Court ordered a stay in the ongoing recount while arguements before the court were being heard effectively freezing the scoreboard allowing Ted Olsen to run out the clock while Bush was ahead by a razor thin margin. That's why Bush v. Gore will forever remain controversial.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    July 9, 2012 8:35 a.m.

    Mike Richards - Bugliosi said it better than I ever could:

    "...the Court wrote that its ruling was "limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities." (That's pure, unadulterated moonshine. The ruling sets forth a very simple, noncomplex proposition - that if there are varying standards to count votes, this violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.) In other words, the Court, in effect, was saying its ruling "only applied to those future cases captioned Bush v. Gore. In all other equal protection voting cases, litigants should refer to prior decisions of this court."

    Why would they make such a statement if they, themselves, didn't understand that what they were doing was illegal? Why couldn't this ruling be used as precedent, like every other ruling of the Supreme Court? If you want to know the answer just ask yourself if the tables were turned and Al Gore had brought this suit befored the court, would Rhenquist, Scalia and Thomas be leading the same charge in Gore's favor. No! It was political and it was illegal. They had no basis for their decision.

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    July 9, 2012 8:18 a.m.

    "Look at the pot calling the kettle black" here, Bob Bennett has no room to talk, with his crony capitalism, with the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement these elites played by different rules, that loved him so much. George W. Bush won the Electoral College in 2000 following the recount in Florida. But Al Gore received more popular votes about 540,000 more than Mr. Bush nationally, or about 0.5 percent of all votes cast across the country. So Mr. Gore would have won the election if not for the Electoral College, right?. There's some further evidence of the way the Electoral College can distort popular vote results in the fact that swing states have notably higher turnout. I am not here to make excuses for the shortcomings of George Bush or for Ronald Reagan nor am I a shill for Mitt Romney and claim allegiance to no political party. No organization owns my vote, I will give it to whoever I feel will serve the nation best regardless of the letter next to their name.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 9, 2012 7:39 a.m.


    Illegal act? When is a Supreme Court ruling an illegal act? It is the law; therefore, it cannot be illegal.

    You may not like the decision. You may have preferred that every ballot had been counted for Gore, even when it was obvious that the voter had punched it for Bush.

    How many times would the Court have had to rule before you were satisfied that "justice" was done? Would you have kept them at it until they finally decided that Gore won, overlooking the fraud being perpetrated on America by the Gore camp?

    The Democrats "stole" the 1960 election when the Daley Machine worked its magic in Illinois and Kennedy, who had been far behind, suddenly won the State, when the LBJ machine resurrected the dead to vote in some Texas precincts and where other precincts voted alphabetically.

    In 2000, the Court ruled, based on facts, not upon public opinion. We have laws to protect us against cheating politicians. The Court got it right.

    If necessary, it will rule again after Obama insists that non-documented voters be allowed to vote in Florida.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    July 9, 2012 5:03 a.m.

    Justice Sandra Day O'Conner...replied..."aside from the Court's ruling, the final statewide recount that was done, after the ruling, showed that Bush really had won."

    So, in this case anyway, the end justifies the means.

    In his now famous article and later book "None Dare Call It Treason" former prosecuter Vincent Bugliosi stated, "To judge these Justices by the final result rather than by their intentions at the time of their conduct would be like exonerating one who shoots to kill if the bullet misses the victim."

    Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the opposing viewpoint, Bush "failed to carry the heavy burden" of showing a likelihood of irreparable harm if the recount continued. In other words, the Court never even had the legal right to grant the stay. "Counting every legally cast vote cannot constitute irreparable harm," Stevens said. "On the other hand, there is a danger that a stay may cause irreparable harm to the...public at large... Preventing the recount from being completed will inevitably cast a cloud on the legitimacy of the election."

    And so it has. Senator Bennett would be better off letting sleeping dogs lie rather than justifying this illegal act.