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Message - FW: great article by Roger Ebert
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Posted by  mikeschiller on December 16, 2000 at 23:48:46:


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Film Critic Roger Ebert explains his view on how Bush managed to win. Great Article!

GOP won by planting seeds of deception

BY ROGER EBERT December 14, 2000

Now that the adventure is over, it might be instructive to consider some of the ideas that seeped into the general consciousness. How and why, for example, did it become established in so many minds that Bush was the presumptive winner and Gore the apparent loser?

What the Republicans did, cleverly, was to establish effective "memes" in the minds of the public and the pundits. A meme, so named by the British evolutionist Richard Dawkins, is like a gene, except that instead of advancing through organisms, it moves through minds. Memes are simply ideas that demonstrate a high rate of survival and transmission.

Bush became the "winner" of a dead heat, in the midst of an incomplete recount, when a premature victory was declared on her own unnecessary deadline by his Florida campaign co-chairwoman, who also held the crucial post of secretary of state. Once this bogus "certification" was final (Ms. Harris signing several copies on TV, including a valuable souvenir for herself), the Republicans referred to it endlessly as a valid event, even though it was clearly a shameless ploy to slam the door before the election escaped. A meme was born.

The other effective GOP meme was the mantra, "we counted, and counted again, and then a third time." These words were chanted by Baker and the other Bush spokesmen until many Americans accepted them as a form of truth, even though it is clear that thousands of ballots were never counted at all.

Another successful meme was the assault on the honesty of election judges and the courts in general. They were often characterized by the GOP as partisan crooks, unless their findings agreed with the Bush cause, in which case they were patriots.

This led finally to the spectacle of the "states rights" party applauding the Supremes' federal coup halting the recount because, in words that will haunt Scalia forever, a recount might cast "a cloud upon what [Bush] claims to be the legitimacy of his election." Think about that. In other words, if Gore ended up with more votes, a cloud would be cast on Bush's claims.

Three days later the Supreme Court majority overruled the Florida court's attempt to interpret Florida law. John Paul Stevens' dissent lamented this "lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed," and added, in words that will long be quoted, "...the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the law." The Republicans were not only more effective creators of memes but were also better at raising their voices. The Democrats were on the whole more civil in their public statements.

The GOP had no hesitation in making the dangerous charge that Democrats were "stealing" the election. This in the face of plausible evidence that Gore got more votes in Florida, as he did nationally. Right-wing pundits were stirred to a frenzy. Ann Coulter accused the Democrats of being "delusional nutcases," called the Florida Supreme Court "power-mad lunatics," and found that the Democrats had crossed the "fine line" between "typical Democrat lies and demonstrably psychotic behavior."

More Americans voted for liars and psychotics than for her candidate? Really? Comments like these are an example not of opinion but of behavior. Have you ever seen Ms. Coulter on television? Even her conservative stablemates look queasy as her ideological flywheel spins.

The Democrats were just plain outshouted. And Lady Luck rolled the dice and gave them the butterfly ballot, the Jews for Buchanan, the election boards that took days off, the hired mob to stop the Dade recount, the disenfranchised black voters, the illegally franchised military and absentee voters, the Bush cousin to call the election on TV, the Bush co-chairwoman to rush it through certification, and the Bush brother to mastermind operation fail-safe by the Florida legislature to certify Bush electors no matter who won. Even in Vegas they'd be amazed by luck this rotten; the Miami Herald's statisticians estimated that Gore probably outpolled Bush by about 23,000 votes. That's why it was so important for the Republicans to stop the count.

It is important, then, to keep in mind that Bush was not obviously the winner nor Gore obviously the loser. The GOP has captured the election but may have done itself damage in the process, leaving doubts about the fairness of its tactics and the recklessness of its rhetoric.

At the end the Democrats were left with one meme that showed promise: That they were the ones who wanted to count the votes, while the Republicans did not. If memes work like genes in the evolution of political opinion in America, this one may be the fittest, and may survive.

Copyright Chicago Sun-Times Inc.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/eb-feature/ebert14.html
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Film Critic Roger Ebert explains his view on how Bush managed to win. 
Great Article!

GOP won by planting seeds of deception


BY ROGER EBERT  December 14, 2000

Now that the adventure is over, it might be instructive to consider some of
the ideas that seeped into the general consciousness. How and why, for example,
did it become established in so many minds that Bush was the presumptive winner
and Gore the apparent loser?


What the Republicans did, cleverly, was to establish effective "memes" in the
minds of the public and the pundits. A meme, so named by the British
evolutionist Richard Dawkins, is like a gene, except that instead of advancing
through organisms, it moves through minds. Memes are simply ideas that
demonstrate a high rate of survival and transmission.


Bush became the "winner" of a dead heat, in the midst of an incomplete
recount, when a premature victory was declared on her own unnecessary deadline
by his Florida campaign co-chairwoman, who also held the crucial post of
secretary of state. Once this bogus "certification" was final (Ms. Harris
signing several copies on TV, including a valuable souvenir for herself), the
Republicans referred to it endlessly as a valid event, even though it was
clearly a shameless ploy to slam the door before the election escaped. A meme
was born.


The other effective GOP meme was the mantra, "we counted, and counted again,
and then a third time." These words were chanted by Baker and the other Bush
spokesmen until many Americans accepted them as a form of truth, even though it
is clear that thousands of ballots were never counted at all.


Another successful meme was the assault on the honesty of election judges and
the courts in general. They were often characterized by the GOP as partisan
crooks, unless their findings agreed with the Bush cause, in which case they
were patriots.


This led finally to the spectacle of the "states rights" party applauding the
Supremes' federal coup halting the recount because, in words that will haunt
Scalia forever, a recount might cast "a cloud upon what [Bush] claims to be the
legitimacy of his election." Think about that. In other words, if Gore ended up
with more votes, a cloud would be cast on Bush's claims.


Three days later the Supreme Court majority overruled the Florida court's
attempt to interpret Florida law. John Paul Stevens' dissent lamented this "lack
of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would
make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed," and added, in
words that will long be quoted, "...the identity of the loser is perfectly
clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of
the law." The Republicans were not only more effective creators of memes but
were also better at raising their voices. The Democrats were on the whole more
civil in their public statements.


The GOP had no hesitation in making the dangerous charge that Democrats were
"stealing" the election. This in the face of plausible evidence that Gore got
more votes in Florida, as he did nationally. Right-wing pundits were stirred to
a frenzy. Ann Coulter accused the Democrats of being "delusional nutcases,"
called the Florida Supreme Court "power-mad lunatics," and found that the
Democrats had crossed the "fine line" between "typical Democrat lies and
demonstrably psychotic behavior."


More Americans voted for liars and psychotics than for her candidate? Really?
Comments like these are an example not of opinion but of behavior. Have you ever
seen Ms. Coulter on television? Even her conservative stablemates look queasy as
her ideological flywheel spins.


The Democrats were just plain outshouted. And Lady Luck rolled the dice and
gave them the butterfly ballot, the Jews for Buchanan, the election boards that
took days off, the hired mob to stop the Dade recount, the disenfranchised black
voters, the illegally franchised military and absentee voters, the Bush cousin
to call the election on TV, the Bush co-chairwoman to rush it through
certification, and the Bush brother to mastermind operation fail-safe by the
Florida legislature to certify Bush electors no matter who won. Even in Vegas
they'd be amazed by luck this rotten; the Miami Herald's statisticians estimated
that Gore probably outpolled Bush by about 23,000 votes. That's why it was so
important for the Republicans to stop the count.


It is important, then, to keep in mind that Bush was not obviously the winner
nor Gore obviously the loser. The GOP has captured the election but may have
done itself damage in the process, leaving doubts about the fairness of its
tactics and the recklessness of its rhetoric.


At the end the Democrats were left with one meme that showed promise: That
they were the ones who wanted to count the votes, while the Republicans did not.
If memes work like genes in the evolution of political opinion in America, this
one may be the fittest, and may survive.


Copyright Chicago Sun-Times Inc.



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