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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fred Schepartz's review of FOOLED AGAIN by Mark Crispin Miller is now posted HERE. It's a very fine piece of what is generally called "creative non-fiction." Fred is the publisher of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change.

Election Night 2000. I knock off work early and make a beeline to the Crystal Corner, the venerable corner saloon on Madison’s hip and groovy Near Eastside, a mere 12 blocks from the Wisconsin Capitol dome. I’m hoping to raise a bottle of Leinenkugel high in the air to toast a victory for Al Gore.

When I arrive at a little past midnight, the Crystal is crowded, but not packed. And it is jubilant. Most of the major networks had just projected victory for Gore. But no! Wait! Hold on just a second! Suddenly, Fox declares victory for George W. Bush. Like lemmings, the other networks follow suit. What follows is a surreal nightmare. Gore is duped into conceding. The counting in Florida essentially stops, even though Gore is actually winning. Gore takes back his concession. There’s an electronic recount, then a hand recount. Republican Party operatives storm one of the election headquarters and through physical intimidation demand that the recount stop. The whole matter goes from court to court to court until the U.S. Supreme Court, in Bush v. Gore, orders the recount halted once and for all, thus giving Bush the presidency. Sandra Day O’Connor casts the swing vote, something she will later say that she lived to regret, that she handed the White House to a candidate who did not even win the popular vote.

Fast-forward four years later. I’m back at the Crystal, hoping to toast a John Kerry victory. I’m hopeful. Gulf War II had taken a turn for the worse. The economy is in the dumper. Pre-election polls showed Kerry holding a slim lead. Ralph Nader’s campaign doesn’t have the same juice as back in 2000. And there seemed to be an immense groundswell of grassroots activism of registration and get-out-the-vote drives, largely featuring people not necessarily inside the Democratic Party establishment through groups such as

And most importantly, all throughout the afternoon, I kept hearing reports that exit polls indicated a victory for Kerry.

But sipping a Guinness, all we could do was sit back and watch helplessly as state after state on the map went red. It looked as if it all would come down to Ohio.

Next day I awake with a horrible hangover. Bush wins Ohio by 118,601 votes. He wins the popular vote by roughly three million votes. The same people who had been practically admitting malfeasance with their mantra of “Get over it” were able to say that this time Bush had won fair and square.

In the weeks and months that follow, my ears are forced to endure the obnoxious refrain of The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, what I like to call the “What’s Wrong With Kansas Syndrome,” which is how Bush’s miraculous victory came to be, that the country had moved to the right, that people held near and dear to their hearts the social issues of so-called Christian morality upon which Bush wrapped himself.

So what really happened in 2004? Did Bush win fair and square or was the electorate fooled again? (read rest of article)

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