(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Sunday, October 06, 2002

At least I'm in good company, in my outrage about the Forrester hypocrisy. (Mark A.R. Kleiman, Max Sawicky, and Joshua Micah Marshall are on it as well -- so though I am the least eminent of these, at least I was first in my outrage).

Remember Howard Kurtz in the Post telling us a few days ago that the Torricelli/Lautenberg switch was a big problem for the Democrats nationwide, on the theory that this shows you how Democrats will stop at nothing? (That's "the liberal Washington Post," remember). Painting with a brush of the same width that he used, let me help Kurtz out by writing his next column:
I was wrong. Please forgive me, I was wrong. I was wrong when I suggested that the Torricelli/Lautenberg switch was a shady manouever that would haunt the Democrats nationwide.

The truth is, first, that what the Democrats were doing was simply following the fundamental tenet of well-known and non-partisan New Jersey jurisprudence, that such election-law deadlines are not set in stone and do not require strict compliance. For the non-lawyers among you, let me point out that such loose readings of election statutes are the norm in many, perhaps most, states -- and have been for decades. How do we know that this was a fundamental tenet of well-known and non-partisan New Jersey jurisprudence? Because just a few months ago, in this same race, Forrester's lawyers used the same argument successfully in order to get a change to a ballot that would have been "too late" if strict compliance with deadlines was required. Forrester's lawyers used exactly the same argument, and got a precisely analogous result, as Democrats did in the Lautenberg/Torricelli issue.

The truth -- second and more importantly -- is that I was wrong in saying that this episode reflects poorly on Democrats. The truth is that it's a blood-pressure-raising, hair-raising, fist-pounding, cause for outrage against Republicans, because that party so often resorts to this sort of lie. They say they want to "privatize" social security until their pollsters tell them to change the word, then they say they never said "privatize." They say they want to come down hard on repeat offender drug-users, and then -- well, you know what I'm talking about. The list goes on and on. But this is the worst: telling us that the Democrats were doing something unlawful by obtaining judicial permission to miss a deadline, when their own candidate had done the exact same thing. Republicans think we're morons. Well you know what? I'm through carrying their water for them. They are the party of dishonesty, and everyone who cares about honesty should vote for Democrats, or (if you don't have the good sense to do that) at least write a strong letter to the RNC telling them to tell all their candidates and office-holders to stop lying about important things.

The foregoing is copyright by me, but I hereby grant Kurtz full permission to use it (as long as he mentions that I wrote it for him).

posted by sam 7:45 AM 0 comments


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