Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Squandered Not Stolen

Scott Johnson has an excellent post at Power Line that seeks to clear up some of growing misconceptions about the Senate recount:

The portrayal of Senator Coleman as a victim akin to Dino Rossi in the Washington recount fiasco is misleading. Friends of ours who have observed the process up close and who know the players managing it on behalf of Senator Coleman share our misgivings regarding this portrayal. Senator Coleman has acted a bit like an NFL team sitting on a two-point lead in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and playing zone defense. He could have been much more aggressive in protecting his position in the days since November 5.

One overlooked aspect of the process is the different approaches the two campaigns took once the recount began. From the outset of the recount process, the Coleman campaign has been remarkably passive in its approach. They have improvised strategy from day to day and spent too much time "spinning" the Franken campaign's activities, while expecting their lawyers to protect them. They have not appeared to me to have a handle on what was happening or on what was likely to happen.

Franken's campaign recognized immediately the opportunity to "find" more votes with the "improperly rejected" absentee ballots. The Coleman campaign may have erred at the outset when it failed to initiate its own efforts or craft a countervailing strategy.

It was probably natural for the two campaigns to act in the way they did. With Coleman ahead, the attitude on his side was to try to hold the lead and prevent the Franken campaign from picking up additional votes to narrow the gap. On the other side, the Franken crew knew that to overcome Coleman's lead they would have to scratch and claw for every additional vote they could. Some of these efforts were rebuffed, but enough came to fruition to allow them to catch and pass Coleman. Meanwhile, by not taking the same attitude toward looking under every rock and exploring every possibility for every additional vote, it seems like the Coleman campaign missed an opportunity to increase their vote total, especially in regard to the rejected absentee ballots. Now, it may be too late to go back and hope to pick additional votes through the contest process.

Complaining about the election being "stolen" during the recount process is also a little like a NFL team complaining about a bad call late in a loss to the Lions (assuming that the Lions ever win another game). The sad truth is that the Coleman campaign should never have been in this position in the first place. If you can't secure a wide enough margin in the election to defeat Al frickin' Franken, then you probably don't deserve to win anyway.

One last point. What Scott Johnson demonstrated in his post was something called intellectual honesty. A concept that local lefty bloggers who are carping about how Coleman should do the right thing and accept the results are completely unfamiliar with. There is no doubt that if the roles were reversed and Franken had contested the election after being down 225 votes, the very same choir would be singing in unison about how "every vote should be counted" and that Coleman had no right to claim victory.

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