Saturday, January 12, 2008

Not So Fast, Evita

posted by earthwirehead @ 6:59 AM

In the midst of all the attention being given to our own little Evita crying herself up a thin win in New Hampshire, a counter-narrative has been forming on the 'Net and finally broken through to mainstream attention (in places as diverse at Salon, NPR, and Fox News): the distinct possibility that the New Hampshire Primary that stalled Barack Obama's march to the White House might've been a rigged election.

The basis for this suspicion: 80% of precincts reporting in the New Hampshire primary use Diebold-supplied optical scanners to digitally tabulate votes, while 20%--primarily in poorer, rural areas-- tabulate votes by hand. The hand-counted votes are in accordance with both the predictive polling and the exit polling and show Obama winning. The electronically counted ballots show Clinton ahead. More damning: the percentages, according to at least one watchdog group, appear to be exactly switched.

The stories appearing in the mainstream media all contain the disclaimer phrase "of course, no one suspects the Clinton campaign" (no one, that is, who wants to keep their job). The official "explanation" is that the vote discrepancy mere reflect the preference patterns of the voters in these different parts of New Hampshire. In other words, we're suppose to accept that more people in rural farming communities voted for the young and controversial black man than for the old and utterly staid white woman, while the younger, better educated, and more affluent voters in urban areas did exactly the opposite.....yeah, right.

The other explanation being touted for Mrs. Clinton's unexpected win is the unprecedentedly high number (15% or better) of voters who remained undecided up until the moment they stepped into the polling place. ALL of these undecided voters, we are told, waited until the last possible moment to cast their vote for one of the most widely-known figures in American politics, without considering ANY of the alternatives.

If you are finding all of this a little bit improbable, you aren't alone. To his great good credit, Dennis Kucinich has used his position as one of the candidates in the contested election to demand--and pay for-- a recount. Kucinich no more accuses Clinton of complicity in the dubious results than he expects himself to benefit from a recount. He simply believes that this election cycle is far too important to be tainted by even a suggestion of fraud.

As is the case with all "conspiracy theories", it is necessary to provide a motive for conspirators and at least provide some likely suspects. In this case, there is no shortage of both. The presumed innocence of the Clinton operation is, to begin with, just a bit naive. They've proven themselves willing to do pretty much everything short of election fraud to win, and they absolutely believe that the end justifies the means-- if anything authentic emerged from Madam Clinton's little crying jag, it is her absolute conviction that she is far better equipped to discern what is good for the American people than we are able to do so for ourselves.

Nor is it entirely far-fetched to believe that the same people widely suspected of delivering an election for George W. Bush would not have been inclined to do Hillary the same favor. In the first place, anyone with an interest in keeping the White House in Republican hands would infinitely prefer to have Mrs. Clinton at the head of the Democratic ticket than Barack Obama. In the second place, if the corporate interests that run this country have to concede the White House to the opposition party (which is highly likely), the only "democrat" who would be any more suitable to their interests than Hillary Clinton would be Joe Lieberman. It has been obvious from the start that Mrs. Clinton fills the same role in this election cycle as that filled by John Kerry in the last--the "safe" democrat, the one who can be trusted to not rock the boat (interesting,given that Kerry has now declared support for Obama--over both Clinton and his former running mate, Mr. Edwards).

The results of a recount will not be available in time to impact the Democratic nomination process, and may not even be available in time to matter in November. It would be nice to see a statement from the Clinton campaign praising Dennis Kucinich's commitment to democracy. It would be nice to see the Obama campaign learn the full lesson of what happened to them in New Hampshire and find momentum and victory in South Carolina. It would be nice to see the pall of suspicion, distrust, and paranoia that is the true legacy of the Bush Administration fade like the clouds of a passing storm. Sadly, all of these things are far less likely than any of us would want to believe.



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