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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Saturday, October 05, 2002



A Pure Indulgence Of My Dark Heart

Never have so many provided so much mirth to so few. We have lit the "Torch" again, and are contemplating the following:

Ted Barlow: Well, it's the issue that everyone is talking about. To me, it seems pretty clear. Deadlines are deadlines, and rules are rules. When candidates miss them, especially after disgracing themselves by violating the laws they're sworn to uphold, they shouldn't be on the ballot. There is no legal argument to support these candidates, just vague appeals to "the will of the people." That's why I join with principled, consistent conservative commentators to insist that Katherine Harris be removed from the ballot in Florida."

Jeff Cooper: "The New Jersey Ballot : Ted Barlow [above] is back... with an amusingly pointed observation about the New Jersey ballot controversy..."

Josh Marshall: "(Where these gun-slingers for the rule of law were when Mitt Romney got a pass, and rightly so, on his Massachusetts residency requirement I just don't know.)"

Daily Kos: [Referring to Josh Marshall's piece]: The Mitt Romney angle is brilliant, and I'm kicking myself for not have thought of it myself....

At the time, I criticized Democrats for trying to get Romney off the ticket. Look it up here if you don't believe me. I made the same arguments in the Kathleen Harris case."


First, this is an impressive roster. Ted Barlow is new to me, but the other three are consistently smart and interesting. My problem is entirely one of disappointed expectations. Three of these folks provided no links to anything about Harris or Romney. Sure, there's "google", but how about a bit of help, since you seem to be so knowledgable about these cases, and expect me to be as well?

The Daily Kos did provide some story links, and some very revealing links to his own archives. Perhaps we will find clarion calls for voter choice - solve these disputes at the polling place, not the courthouse! Hmm. Don't take my word for it, look for yourself, but in each case, the entire Daily Kos sentiment seems to be, these lawsuits might be a tactical mistake. The only discernible principle is power - lawsuits in the case of Harris and Romney don't make sense because they won't help elect Democrats. Admirably consistent, but it is not clear how a Republican ought to apply this to the Torricelli Debacle.

All four seem to endorse the notion that someone who did not articulate a view on Harris, Romney, or both, should not comment on Torricelli, or perhaps, should not be taken seriously if they do.

My goodness. Well, folks are free to set their own standards for judging the consistency of another, just as we are free to set our own standards in judging the intellectual coherence of another. To help gauge the intellectual coherence of this particular "where were you on Harris and/or Romney" argument, let me offer the following defense:

As to Harris, I paid very little attention. My impression was that she was one of several Republicans qualifying for a Primary in a safe Republican district, and that, whether she or another Republican won would have roughly zero impact on the tussle for control of the House. Having read through the linked story from Daily Kos, it is still not clear to me whether that is the situation, but we do see a principled Dem in the last paragraph:

"Jan Schneider, one of four Democrats seeking the seat that most experts assume Harris will win easily, said she is consulting a lawyer about the situation but doesn't know whether she'll take legal action.

``for someone who purports to comply with the letter of the law, this doesn't sound like it,'' Schneider said. ``I think the voters deserve a race on the issues - for this to be decided on a technicality might be unfortunate.''


Well, good for her. Anyway, yes, guilty as charged: I don't obsess about Florida, I don't care about Harris, and I made a judgement that this story was amusing but inconsequential. Here's a blog that refers to the same "automatic resignation" statute mentioned in the news story, but you know what? I still don't care.

And Romney, prospective Governor of Massachusetts? Well, can he affect the Red Sox? If yes, then I guess I'm interested. But since my Yankees had the Boys from Beantown under control all summer, I could care less about this state race, and anyone who thinks I am going to immerse myself in the minutia of Massachusetts residency requirements should be kind enough to send me some of whatever they are smoking.

So again, you got me - a race of no national import that is out of my area, and I don't care. Grab your heart medicine.

Now, given my deplorable lack of intellectual curiousity and consistency, how dare I comment on Torricelli? Well, I am from New Jersey originally, I read the NY Times, which couldn't keep this story off the front page, and the story has great significance for the control of the Senate. Please, is anyone seriously suggesting that these three stories are remotely comparable in news-worthiness? Hey, like lots of folks, I blog about what interests me. Check the Times, see how much ink they splashed on Harris and Romney.

I will grant the following: it might be fair to ask someone what conclusion they might reach in applying whatever principles they appled to "Torricelli" to the other cases. Bit of a retro-spective consistency check. But to make the clear suggestion that, if you did not have a contemporaneous interest in these minor cases, you are somehow disqualifed from commenting on this major case - silly.

So, gentleman: it's an amusing chant. "Harris and Romney, Harris and Romney". I hope that none of you are pretending that chanting is a substitute for reasoned argument.


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