Some of the good people at Miramax, whose commitment to free
expression and unfettered inquiry stops when reporters start asking
unauthorized questions, have formally requested a Presidential election
do-over. Requested? Oh, no. They demand it in the name of democracy, a form of
government they find pleasant enough when the results coincide with their
beliefs. They have declared themselves to be concerned citizens, interested not
in partisanship but in nobility, honor and decency, and they have described the
possibility that George W. Bush will be elected President as a crisis, a
Would they have been so concerned 40 years ago, when
graveyards were canvassed to help speed John Kennedy to the White House? Not
very likely, although if the company’s biases can be discerned from its
products, a few executives no doubt would have muttered something nasty but
socially acceptable about Kennedy’s taste in church-going.
The Miramax crowd, led by Harvey Weinstein, pummeler of the
free press and celebrator of SUV liberalism, joined with other show-business
types (and some honorable writers and
trusted academics) in paying for a full-page ad in The New York Times on Nov. 10 that advocated a new Presidential
election in Florida’s Palm Beach County. As members of a group called the
Emergency Committee of Concerned Citizens 2000, scholars and historians like
Rosie O’Donnell, Robert De Niro, Bianca Jagger and Mr. Weinstein cited the
famous electoral precedent of 1876-77, when Congress and the Supreme Court
resolved a Presidential election as disputed as today’s. What a breathtaking
display of knowledge! How I wish I could hear Mr. De Niro or Ms. Jagger explain
the Tilden-Hayes election!
It’s just wonderful that Ms. O’Donnell, Mr. De Niro, Ms.
Jagger, Mr. Weinstein and Nora Ephron are so worried about “the dignity and
legitimacy of American democracy.” No doubt they were similarly exercised about
political dignity when President Clinton was inviting half of Hollywood to
sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom and lying to the country about Monica Lewinsky.
Surely these concerned citizens were outraged at the time and meant to say
something about Mr. Clinton’s deviations from dignity-but, well, they’re busy
people, and they just didn’t get around to it.
It’s a shame that Mr. Weinstein has to resort to mere
argument in trying to influence Presidential politics rather than rely on his
more customary form of asserting his beliefs. Given the nature of the national
emergency, why, who could blame Mr. Weinstein if he flew down to Palm Beach and
placed members of the Florida Election Commission in headlocks until they
agreed to do as he says? No doubt some of his fellow concerned citizens would
applaud such tactics, arguing that in time of national emergency, force is a necessary,
though regrettable, option. Nothing less
than their access to the White House is at stake!
The committee offered no advice on how a new election in
Palm Beach might proceed: Could people who voted for Ralph Nader on Election
Day now change their votes to Mr. Gore? (Well, of course!) If Gore voters are
having second thoughts about their man, based on his actions and the company he
is keeping, could they switch their votes to Mr. Bush? (Of course not! That
wouldn’t be fair!)
Americans live in a mature, stable democracy that needs no
lectures about dignity and legitimacy from committee members like Harold Evans
or Gloria Steinem, no hectoring from celebrities who believe fame imparts
knowledge. Their concern is not that incompetence deprived citizens of their
votes. If it were, surely they would have something to say about the routine
screw-ups that disenfranchise voters by the tens of thousands every year. Like
the Electoral College, ballot-box incompetence is a political reality, and one
that surely is bipartisan. Anybody who has been voting in New York City longer
than a decade probably has a ballot-exclusion story of his or her
own-celebrities, of course, probably vote by absentee ballot, which is a good
deal smoother and doesn’t involve any waiting or dealing with per-diem election
No, it is not
run-of-the-mill ballot-box blunders that so enrage Rosie, Harvey and others
who’ve hijacked the Democratic Party and liberalism. They simply don’t like the
result. This is a manifestation of Mr. Gore’s infelicitous equation of the
Democrats with good and his opponents with evil. Mr. Gore probably didn’t mean
it. His Hollywood supporters do.
The Hollywood Left has become to the Democratic Party what
the Religious Right is to the Republicans. Mr. Bush made a point of steering
clear of his fundamentalists this year. Mr. Gore, on the other hand, campaigned
Neither Mr. Gore nor the heads of the Democratic Party
realize that it is one thing to have respected historians and writers argue
your case; it is quite another to have airheads and dilettantes posit
themselves as arbiters of democracy. Speaking as a Gore voter-and one who has
next to nothing in common with the Democratic Party’s self-righteous celebrity
cheerleaders-I’d point out that Republicans have a greater appreciation for the
dignity which so concerns the Emergency Committee of Concerned Citizens. While
one can easily imagine a Republican ad signed by conservative partisans if Mr.
Bush were challenging the Florida results, propriety would exclude endorsements
from the likes of Tom Selleck, Charlton Heston and even Rush Limbaugh.
Conservatives, who are skeptical of the ephemeral, seem less likely to believe
that celebrity merits worship. That may explain the preponderance of Hollywood
types in the Democratic Party. It’s not about ideology; it’s about respect.
If Mr. Gore allows celebrities and Hollywood blowhards to
make his case to the American people, he surely is a loser.