Suing Your Way to Defeat
Tom Daschle goes mad and tries to lose the election all in one night.
6:17 AM, Nov 2, 2004 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
LAST NIGHT, Tom Daschle threw his campaign into the shredder. What is it that makes South Dakota politicians do this kind of thing? There must be something in that Missouri River water that makes even the best of political pros tuck their thumbs into their armpits and squawk like demented chickens.
Daschle's new outbreak of ornithological lunacy started yesterday, when he requested from federal circuit-court judge a temporary restraining order banning Republican--and only Republican--poll watchers from all election sites on Indian reservations or majority Indian districts. This is way cooler than the decisions in Ohio to license voter fraud by outlawing both party's poll watchers. Those were complete victories for the Democrats, of course, but with the prohibition of both parties' watchers, the decisions at least made a token gesture toward evenhandedness--albeit, not enough of a one to keep the 6th circuit from overturning them on appeal.
Daschle's South Dakota filing is available online, and it makes great reading. Let's not pretend any of that goo-goo nonsense about how the law ought to apply to both parties equally. Does Heaven grant equal opportunity to evil? Does water sign consent decrees with fire? Republicans are, by definition, oppressors of minorities. They are evil, and their ghastly phosphorescent presence burns--man, how it burns. The mere knowledge that a Republican might be somewhere near watching, watching, always watching . . . why, that's enough to make minority voters tremble so anxiously that they can't vote. Republican poll watchers are against the laws of God and man. It says so, right there in 42 U.S.C. 1973i(b).
Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, as the lyrics in The Music Man once put it. Cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more. Tom Daschle has turned into a squawking hen. Did Daschle's lawyers have to make their candidate a laughing-stock by filing the case with Judge Lawrence Piersol--a strong personal friend who was Daschle's own lawyer in the court contests during the 1978 election and who only four days before had given a radio interview praising Daschle? Did they have to call as their only witness a professional Democrat who had helped out with Howard Dean's triumphant disaster in the primaries and had been in the state of South Dakota for only 48 hours? And did they really have to insist that one of the early Republican poll watchers had--wait for it, now, it's gonna be a measure of human depravity--actually rolled his eyes to another poll watcher? Did they have to name the Republican candidate John Thune as the lead defendant, despite their utter lack of evidence or even claims about the candidate himself--thereby enshrining the case in the public record as Daschle v. Thune?
Yes, apparently they did. Cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more. This is crazy. I believe Tom Daschle just cost himself the election. If every possible fraudulent vote--um, excuse me, I meant unintimidated vote--were gained on the reservations, Daschle might pick up around 2,000 more votes than he was expecting. He will lose more than that in Democratic Sioux Falls alone for this stunt. This is going to play really badly in South Dakota. All those conscientious Scandinavians in the eastern half of the state--the kind who give certain farm towns 90 percent voter turnout, because voting is a civic duty: They're not going to like this at all.
And talk about firing up your opponent's base: Everybody who can walk, hobble, or crawl in Rapid City's Republican environs is going to get themselves into the voting booth today to show what they think of Tom Daschle's attempt to steal the election by lawsuit.
Daschle has seriously misunderstood the power of the alternative media, especially radio and the Internet, to get news about this kind of thing out to the voting public. The South Dakota bloggers have been relentless: Jon Lauck live blogged the hearing (and the judge whined about it in open court: is that cool, or what?) Jason Van Beek kept the stream coming through the night, as did Steve Sibson, Ryne McClaren, and others.