One President at a Time

Via Instapundit, I found this, from Rick Moran, on the matter of what the proper response should be if the “other guy” (in his case, Obama) wins the election:

You can talk about “voter fraud” and “stealing elections” all you want but the fact remains that if Obama is certified by the electoral college and the House of Representatives as President of the United States, that ends the discussion in our republic. There is no more important aspect of democracy than the minority accepting the will of the majority. The constitution gives the minority certain protections against getting steamrolled by the majority. But it doesn’t give the minority the right to torpedo the legitimacy of the winner.

This is more than a question of “fair play” or being a “sore loser.” The Constitution says we have only one president at a time. Given the importance of that office, it is stark raving lunacy to seek to destroy the man occupying it.

Yes. This is exactly right. And this is why, you’ll notice if you crawl the Whatever archives, I have made a point of noting that George Bush is my president. Here’s a representative quote on the matter, from 2005, on the subject of Bush’s 35% popularity rating (which at the time seemed, you know, pretty low):

You’ll note, however, that I did not say that I was happy that Bush has such a God-awful rating. I’m not. Having a weak and deeply unpopular president makes us vulnerable as a nation, particularly when we are engaged in a war, and especially when engaged in a war that it is becoming increasingly clear the origins of which are best described as an administration misadventure. I don’t like Bush, and I wish he weren’t president; nevertheless he is my president, and my country is ill-served at home and abroad by his weaknesses, both real and perceived.

At this point in time, it seems rather likely that the candidate I support will be the one that wins; after two elections of things going the other way, I’m all for this. However, in the unlikely event that in the next three weeks McCain makes a stunning comeback and wins the election, I will do two things:

1. Accept the fact that the will of the American people has made him the 44th President of the United States;

2. Get sweet, sweet religion so I may pray to high holy God every single day and twice on Sunday that he remains healthy for the entire run of his candidacy, because the thought of a President Palin makes my bowels want to liquefy.

And if McCain did kick off, guess what? Palin would be my President. And then in 2012 I would do everything I could to get her out of that office. Because that’s the way these things work.

One of the reasons I have always registered as an independent voter is that I believe my highest allegiance as a voter is not to a political party but to the Constitution of the United States, the foundational document of our law. Our Constitution sets up the system we use to choose a president. If a candidate — any candidate — fulfills the requirements of that system to become our president, then I believe it’s my duty to acknowledge that, yes, that candidate is now my president. I can criticize that president, argue with that president, loathe that president and work to replace that president in the manner allowed for by the Constitution… but what I can’t do is deny that he or she is my president. That’s wrong, factually and morally, and it’s dismissive of the Constitution of the United States.

So, if the other guys wins the election this year, what I hope you will do is acknowledge that he is your president, and wish him well in guiding the nation through the next four years. Be in opposition, but be a loyal opposition, with your loyalty to the Constitution and the nation it allows to be. It’s just a thought for you as we go into the last weeks of this campaign.

113 thoughts on “One President at a Time

  1. As someone who just voted in his country’s election, and for several years, had to say “yes, the PM is my MP” (Note for non-Americans who haven’t watched Yes, Prime Minister or otherwise know of the Parliamentary system: in most of the British Commonwealth, the party with the most seats in the House of Commons is asked by the Queen to form the Government (one of those, “it doesn’t happen automatically, but it automatically happens” things). The leader of that party – who has almost always won his or her seat in the House of Commons – becomes Prime Minister. It’s as if Nancy Pelosi were the President.), THANK YOU, JOHN.

    I totally agree with you, even in the parts I’m not sure I agreed with you before I read that.

    Having said that, I am allowed to be disappointed in my MP, even when he was the PM, as an MP; and work as hard as possible to make sure that changes in the next election. So, here’s hoping the status quo remains after the polls close tonight…

  2. “I believe my highest allegiance as a voter is not to a political party but to the Constitution of the United States, the foundational document of our law.”

    An excellent sentiment, which George Washington made a point of back in his “farewell address” lo, these many years ago. The tendency to form political parties may be inescapable, but I think it is a good idea for most of us to remember that our interests are *not* identical with the interests of either party.

  3. With all I’ve heard about voter fraud and de-certifying first time registered voters, I’m inclined to send a letter to the U.N. and ask that impartial observers be sent to monitor our election in November.

  4. “I believe my highest allegiance as a voter is not to a political party but to the Constitution of the United States, the foundational document of our law.”

    This isn’t quite the reason I refuse to register with a political party, but it’s close.

    I believe the highest allegiances of my elected officials should be to the Constitution, to the people they represent, and to all people represented by the body they serve in. Not a political party.

    (Yes, I’m an idealist. No, I don’t have a good way to make this happen.)

  5. John,

    While I mostly agree, isn’t the hypothetical situation in which a candidate wins because of voter fraud or other illegal activities at the polls still deeply problematic? Yes, if the electoral college and the House certifies a candidate, that candidate is legally the president. But that doesn’t mean that the law is not in conflict with morality, or that the situation isn’t bad for public trust in our system of government.

    This doesn’t mean that, if such a situation occurs, we should try to remove the president from office or otherwise attack his or her legitimacy. But the discussion should not be over, because a situation in which the voting public distrusts the legitimacy of the voting system may be more dangerous than a situation in which the public distrusts the legitimacy of one president.

  6. John, while I agree with the gist of your argument, there is a part of the social contract implicit in the constitution that recent presidents seem to ignore — that they hold office in trust for the people of the United States (the entire population, not just those who voted for him/her). Presidents need to have the freedom to make decisions without having to directly consult congress or the people, but they must bear the consequences of their actions. Instead, too many presidents hide their responsibility for their administration’s actions behind the questionable veil of executive privilege. I suppose what I am getting at here is that I worry about the “my country right or wrong” trope — our nation was never designed for people to unquestioningly follow — and the presidency is not designed to give unfettered power to anybody — that whole “nation of laws” thing applies here. I think that it also boils down to respect — since we are all equal in the eyes of the law, the president must persuaded and earn our respect. If it weren’t that way, we’d basically have an elective monarchy.

  7. Charles:

    “isn’t the hypothetical situation in which a candidate wins because of voter fraud or other illegal activities at the polls still deeply problematic?”

    There are lots of hypothetical situations that could be problematic, Charles, and certainly voter fraud is one of them. In the case of voter fraud, however, at this particular moment I’m more concerned that attempts to draw attention to voter fraud are more about trying to delegitimatize a winner of an election than an actual real concern about voter fraud. I didn’t buy it in 2000 or 2004, and I’d be skeptical about in in 2008.

  8. Sorry, but no. In my 50 years, I have never EVER felt this strongly about any politician. I’m a conservative and a registered republican. I didn’t vote for bush so he’s not “my” president. Nothing his administration has done is “conservative” (big government, interventionist foreign policy, fiscal depravity). I despise almost everything he stands for (torture, lies, imperial presidency). I never call him “president”, just That Idiot. If I’m in a good mood, I call him “bush”.

    I will acknowledge that he’s the president of the country I live in. That’s it.

    If McCain wins, I dunno. I have lost most of the respect I had for him when his campaign started (esp with the Palin pick). If he wins, he will have to earn it back.

  9. I’m not even sure what you mean, John. His being your president would be a fact of law. I know you’re not saying you’d blindly support him if he took actions you found unlawful, unethical or morally reprehensible….so what does declaring that he’s ‘your’ president (or alternately ‘mine’) actually mean?

    Are you just ticked at the metaphorical construct of someone claiming that “well, he’s not mypresident.“? Are you expecting that people will reject the other candidate and suddenly fight the republic? Or that they’ll just categorically deny whatever he does as lawful? Or that they’ll automatically consider anything he does as invalid and somehow act unconstitutionally against him? Or are you just saying that the statement and the very notion is unpatriotic and offensive? How do you feel about the notion that our current president has been accused of ‘stealing the election’ (a notion I reject, it should be said).

    I’m not trying to be dense here, I’m just not entirely sure what point you’re driving home. I mean, it almost sounds like you’re saying that Bush’s low approval rating is the fault of the constituency, not the executive whose behavior has engendered it.

  10. I’m a member of a political party and I believe that my highest loyalty is to the Constitution, so, while that may be your reasoning, it’s not applicable to everyone.

  11. Emily:

    “I didn’t vote for bush so he’s not ‘my’ president.”

    Well, no. If you’re an American citizen, Bush is, in fact, your president, and saying “I didn’t vote for him, so he’s not my president” is contemptuous of the Constitution of the United States, which I think is a dangerous thing. You can say you’re unhappy he’s your president, but saying he’s not your president is wrong.

    WizarDru:

    “I’m not even sure what you mean, John. His being your president would be a fact of law.”

    Yes, it is. But as you’ll note from the comment immediately preceding yours, that doesn’t stop people from denying the fact.

    What I mean is what I said: That regardless of the outcome, if the president is legally selected in the manner set forth in the Constitution, that all Americans recognize the legitimacy of that process and recognize that person as their president.

    David:

    Excellent. Hopefully lots of people in political parties will feel as you do.

  12. I lack the fortitude. If I hadn’t needed to finish out my second degree, I’d have jumped ship when Bush won the second time (I’d never have met my husband, so it would be sad if I had.)

    If McCain wins, I’ll likely move out of the country for at least a while, if not forever. One of the things that traveling Europe extensively a few years ago showed me was that there are other places in the world to live where my civil liberties might not be at stake (and where I can still get birth control if I want…).

    To be fair, Palin scares me a great deal more than McCain.

  13. From a bit later in the quoted article:

    “The fact that the Democrats and the left have acted like 2 year olds the last 8 years doesn’t mean that if Obama is elected we should throw the same infantile tantrums and look for ghosts in the machine ”

    I sincerely hope that all the extreme nastiness and unnecessarily exagerated criticisms of the Bushies haven’t utterly poisoned the waters for Obama. I wish I could say otherwise, but I expect retribution in kind.

  14. The problem with voter fraud and “decertifying” first time registered voters is that if any charge of either of these is made, everyone in the other party leaps on it as absolute proof, will not even listen to any kind of explanation of what actually happened, and spends the next 4 years in hissy fits about how, “No, he is not my president. I voted for the one that would have been elected legally.” Mistakes are made, usually on the party of the new person registering, but sometimes by poll workers. However, as Mr Scalzi pointed out, the one certified by the Electoral College and House of Representatives is president. There is no provision in the constitution for overturning that, or for having a “revote” in one or more areas.

    I have said this before in other threads, but in every one of the elections I have worked in as an election judge, there are people who claim to be registered but aren’t. Some think it was done automatically when they got a drivers license (not in this state it isn’t) or when they turned 18, or when they registered for the draft. No. Some filled in a registration form and mailed it in, but didn’t sign it, or had no address so there was no way to contact them to fix problems, or made other errors. Some were registered back in the 70s, the last time they cared who was president, and think they should still be registered in spite of having moved 4 times. This is why you must always Check to make sure you are registered. If you are new, don’t just trust voter registration drives because they aren’t official, and all they do is accept your form and take it in. Go ahead and register there, but veryify later that you are registered. What they say means nothing official.

    If you move or change your name, change your registration to match. When you vote, go to the right place. No, you can’t go vote close to where you work if you live in the other end of the county. You have to be in the right precinct, because the ballots are different in different places. You might be in a different state legislative district, or school board district or whatever. There might be a bond issue that only impacts one area, and so is on the ballot in that area but not elsewhere. Salt Lake County in Utah has over 900 precincts due to the different boundary lines of legislative, city council, county government, etc etc districts. I hate to think how many there are in larger places. You have to go to the right place. If you live in one town, and try to vote in the next town, and they refuse you, that is YOUR fault, not the fault of someone trying to “decertify” you. If you didn’t register properly, that is YOUR fault, not a plot. State legislatures make laws about how registration must be carried out, and what information must be given. You don’t give it, you aren’t registered. It isn’t the fault of some poor poll worker who never heard of you before and is certainly not trying to cheat you.

    There might be a long line. That is not a filthy plot to keep you from voting. It is difficult to get as many qualified poll workers as are needed. It is a very long day with no breaks, for little or no pay. If you are free all of election day, you should consider being a poll worker. (Probably too late this year though.) If early voting or voting by mail is available where you live, take advantage of it. That reduces the line for you and for everyone else. If not, try to go as early in the day as possible. If everyone who can vote early in the day does so, then there aren’t as many in the after-work rush.

  15. “…I have always registered as an independent voter…”

    Does this mean that you didn’t get to vote in the primaries? Dang.

  16. Emily: I will acknowledge that he’s the president of the country I live in. That’s it.
    —–
    I agree completely.

    I certainly didn’t vote for Bush (definitely won’t for McCain and his sidekick). He and his administration have blatantly disregarded the rules of our constitution when they expect the people to abide by the document. How could a president expect the population to profess allegiancy to them?

  17. Emily: “I will acknowledge that he’s the president of the country I live in. That’s it.”

    It seems to me that this doesn’t contradict what John said in this article, but worded in a less “patriotic” (and perhaps more realistic) way. Some people respond well to patriotic / loyalist rethoric, and others who’d rather be spared that, thank you. Politics are complicated, because people are.

  18. “One of the reasons I have always registered as an independent voter is that I believe my highest allegiance as a voter is not to a political party but to the Constitution of the United States, the foundational document of our law.”

    I agree with this statement SOOOOOO much. I just wish Maryland did. In order to vote in the primaries you have to “pick a side” so to speak and then can ONLY vote for the candidates on that side. I wanted to register independent or “third party” but doing so limits my effectiveness and ability to participate in choosing MY candidate. In order to play you have to pick a side at least 12 weeks prior to the primary elections.

    Why can’t I vote for my choice of Democratic party representative AND Replublican party representative AND Libertarian party representative and whatever other 3rd party candidates show up on the ballot? If I’d rather had Hillary Clinton over Obama from the Democrats side AND rather have Huckabee over McCain from the Republican side I cannot voice that opinion. As it stands, I would have to know 12 weeks prior to the primary elections which side has the leading candidate I MOST like and which side has the leading candidate I LEAST like so I can join that side and vote for someone else.

  19. Nancy:

    “How could a president expect the population to profess allegiancy to them?”

    You don’t profess allegiance to the President; you profess it to the Constitution (that’s what they do in the military, for example). However, disagreeing or even being disgusted with one’s president doesn’t mean that one may simply disavow the fact he’s your president. I don’t think anyone would suggest that I think well of the competence of the current president. That said, there’s no doubt he’s my president. Acknowledging a fact does not necessarily imply endorsement of the man’s actions.

  20. John,
    I cannot simply stand by idly, supporting Bush as the President, while he runs the country into the ground. The effects of his eight years in office will be felt for generations to come. History will always show that his election was marked by, in effect, a Supreme Court ruling. My allegiance is to the country and constitiution, but deep in my heart I feel that Bush’s allegiance is to his own agenda, the constitution be damned. That may be a personal point view, but nothing from his behavior and decision-making has made me think otherwise. Dissent is a beautiful thing.

  21. Khalil:

    “I cannot simply stand by idly, supporting Bush as the President, while he runs the country into the ground.”

    Who is suggesting you do so?

    Look, people: Acknowledging the actual verifiable fact that someone is president (and if you’re an American citizen, your president) does not mean you are obliged to agree with his policies, aims or philosophies. It simply means you recognize he’s the fucking president, whether you agree with him or not.

    The fact that people seem to think that recognizing that someone is your president means you meekly go along with everything he says suggests that the rhetoric of opposition here in the US is completely out of whack.

  22. Charles @5

    This doesn’t mean that, if such a situation occurs, we should try to remove the president from office or otherwise attack his or her legitimacy.

    Why would you attack the President? If it is a matter a law, then prove it in court. If you prove it in court then we would have to have a remedy such as, perhaps, another election.

    The President may not have been involved in the voter fraud. Like Kennedy in 1960. I seriously doubt he knew that he won due to voter fraud.

    izanobu @12

    One of the things that traveling Europe extensively a few years ago showed me was that there are other places in the world to live where my civil liberties might not be at stake (and where I can still get birth control if I want…).

    That could be, but it’s not in Europe that’s for sure.

    Muleface @13

    I sincerely hope that all the extreme nastiness and unnecessarily exagerated criticisms of the Bushies haven’t utterly poisoned the waters for Obama. I wish I could say otherwise, but I expect retribution in kind.

    Won’t be getting it from me. I argued against Clinton’s impeachment. I also argued for his “illegal” war in Kosovo and criticized him when he didn’t send in ground troops.

  23. I respect the position, but not the man. Sadly, I think the man doesn’t respect the position at all.

  24. John,

    I think this was an excellent post. I agree wholeheartedly. I have to shake my head whenever someone says Bush isn’t my president. It just shows that person is a sore loser and unable to deal with reality (much like Bush himself). But I think these people probably saw some on the right who had “Charlton Heston is MY president.” during the Clinton Orgy. Turnabout is fair, if not smart, play. When Obama is elected, the rights will point to the lefts, middles and rights who said Bush wasn’t their president. Like politics and political parties, it’s a never ending cycle of stupidity.

    But we humans have an amazing ability to ignore reality and believe whatever we want to believe, depending on what the definition of “is” is. It’s probably hidden among the Iraqi WMDs.

  25. “There is no more important aspect of democracy than the minority accepting the will of the majority.”

    This part of Mr. Moran’s statement is wrong in regards to electing a President. It’s a majority of electoral college voters not a majority of voters. As I think most of us are aware, getting the most votes does not always mean getting the job of President.

  26. MuleFaceon 14 Oct 2008 at 1:48 pm:

    I sincerely hope that all the extreme nastiness and unnecessarily exagerated criticisms of the Bushies haven’t utterly poisoned the waters for Obama. I wish I could say otherwise, but I expect retribution in kind.

    I think it’s pretty much assurred, given how Pelosi, Reid and other prominent Democrats were being treated even before Obama was the nominee. Plus, of course, the way Bill Clinton was treated (a point that Moran sort of skips). And now the part where it’s being implied (or sometimes outright stated) that Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist Communist. Even if the majority of the rank-and-file McCain supporters have no interest in bringing down an Obama presidency, I think it’s a fairly safe bet that Limbaugh, Kristol, the team at FOX News and others are going to go at him as hard as they can.

  27. To nancy@17:

    “I certainly didn’t vote for Bush (definitely won’t for McCain and his sidekick). He and his administration have blatantly disregarded the rules of our constitution when they expect the people to abide by the document. How could a president expect the population to profess allegiancy to them?”

    Strictly speaking, we “pledge allegience to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands,” etc., not to the Office of the President or the current holder of that office.

    I think there’s a difference in connotation going on here. George W. Bush is my president in the sense that as an American citizen, once the Electoral College and the House have certified the result, I don’t have a choice for the next four years about who is running the country where I live. He is not “my” president in the sense that I am emotionally invested in his successes and failures in the way I am with the Green Bay Packers, whom I consider to be “my” football team.

    Or maybe I’m overthinking this.

  28. Frank,

    I think you may have misunderstood what I wrote, probably because it was badly phrased. What I mean is: if a situation like that occurs, that DOESN’T mean we should attack the president’s legitimacy.

  29. Well, a lot of this stems from the 2000 elections where Bush wasn’t the candidate that got the most votes and the issue in Florida was so murky that we’re not really sure who actually got the most votes there – hanging chads etc.

    However, since he got votes in a certain set of states he got the critical number of Electoral College votes which is what matters. It’s an edge case and, while it’s too bad that the system allows it, it does. We could certainly adopt an amendment that makes it impossible to have that situation or that abolishes the Electoral College, but since that wasn’t the case in 2000, Bush was duly elected President. And, while a lot of people mocked the circus that the 2000 election engendered in Florida, I was actually pleased with it – it’s how democracies (and republics) do things. It might be messy and imperfect, but we didn’t see riots or the military out and we lived with the consequences even if a significant minority of us didn’t like them.

    However, if Obama wins a very clear majority of the votes (popular and electoral), the right can’t really make the same argument unless they want to contend that ~ 10% of the votes were fraudulent, so I don’t buy the argument that the two cases are the same. In the 2000 case people claimed (wrongly) that Bush wasn’t their president because they felt he stole a very close election and because he lost the popular vote. The right would be claiming that a candidate who wins the electoral college and the popular vote by a clear margin and shouldn’t be considered President. This from the same people who have accused the other side of treason for disagreeing with their policies. Ah, irony.

  30. Reading through the comments that have been made on Moran’s reasonable post (even if I don’t agree with it) is downright scary.

  31. As it stands, I would have to know 12 weeks prior to the primary elections which side has the leading candidate I MOST like and which side has the leading candidate I LEAST like so I can join that side and vote for someone else.

    We have it good in New Hampshire, I guess.

    When you’re registered as an Independent in NH, you can decide on the primary ballot of your choice when you walk in on the day of the primaries. You declare your affiliation, pick your ballot, cast your vote, and then have them put you back into the “Independent” column as you walk out. It’s such an advantage to be independent that we make up the largest block of registered voters, to the tune of 45%.

  32. Andrew Janssen:

    “He is not ‘my’ president in the sense that I am emotionally invested in his successes and failures in the way I am with the Green Bay Packers, whom I consider to be ‘my’ football team.”

    There is the minor fact that:

    a) There are not 29 other presidents one may root for during a political season, who square off against each other in a series of debates, culminating in the “Super Debate,” the winner of which gets supreme executive power until the next January;

    b) The Green Bay Packers do not wield veto power over Congress or shape foreign policy, etc.

    Which is to say that, yeah, not quite the same thing.

  33. John,

    “Acknowledging the actual verifiable fact that someone is president (and if you’re an American citizen, your president) does not mean you are obliged to agree with his policies, aims or philosophies. It simply means you recognize he’s the fucking president, whether you agree with him or not.”

    That’s a good observation, totally missed in my initial reaction to reading your post. I guess from thinking about it a little bit longer, in a weird way, acknowledging that Bush is the President seems to suggest that yes, I do support him. I can see where that would be inferred, especially in the military, but that is not what that means, and we need to be sure to separate the two.

    I see your point: acknowledging a President does not mean supporting him/her. I don’t think I have a problem with acknowledging that, indeed, Bush is the President. God knows we are reminded by that fact on a daily basis.

  34. JJS, I’m going to bump what you just wrote up to a front page post.

    John,

    If it’s not too presumptuous, would you please also consider appending a link to http://www.canivote.org to JJS’s post?

    Canivote.org is a non-partisan site, maintained by the Sec States of the various states, that allows residents of most states to check their registration status online. It also will tell folks where (specifically) they’re registered to vote, what ID or other docs they may need in their state, etc. Quite a nice site.

    Paul

  35. Khalil

    acknowledging a President does not mean supporting him/her. I don’t think I have a problem with acknowledging that, indeed, Bush is the President.

    Well, for me whichever guy is elected President I will be supporting him where I can, taking issue with him when I can’t, and all the while hoping that he is a successful American President.

    I will also be hoping that the Congress elects new leadership: even if it doesn’t change parties.

  36. John,
    “a) There are not 29 other presidents one may root for during a political season, who square off against each other in a series of debates, culminating in the “Super Debate,” the winner of which gets supreme executive power until the next January;”

    That’s *exactly* what a primary season in NH feels like.

  37. The Green Bay Packers do not wield veto power over Congress or shape foreign policy, etc.

    Well, that’s true now. But just wait until the Lombardi Amendment passes.

  38. John,

    Here lately, I have not found much to agree with you on but on this topic, you are dead on and mirror my feelings as a registered independent.

    Rock on!!!!

  39. Posting “late”:

    Invariably, the conventions of the two predominant parties boil down to discussing how best to defeat the other party. At times, this has even been explicit and public (witness the DNC leading up to the 2004 election). It is clear that the parties are not, foremost, concerned with what is best for the country, but with what is best for their party. One may suppose that the reason a given party is focused on beating the other party is to have the chance to benefit the country. I find this sentiment to be rather naive. The leaders of each of the two predominant parties like the other party, need the other party, and support the other party. It is due to the predominantly two-party nature of the current American political system that each is able to remain in relative power and continue to entrench the status quo of American politics. I’ve been encouraging my family and friends, Republicans and Democrats alike, to register as independents, and, further, to vote not for the lesser of two evils, but for the people they actually *want* to have represent them. Republicans voting for Bush (1) and Dole are *responsible* for Clinton being elected. Likewise, Democrats voting for Gore and Kerry are *responsible* for Bush (2) being elected. While we continue to vote for the status quo, the status quo (however superficially different) will always be elected.

  40. John, having trouble with your point of view here. On the one hand, your statement “denying the president is president is idiotic” is nearly tautological. Yes, I was out there with rather strong statements in 2001 (and off and on since), but not because I wanted to convince people that W wasn’t sleeping at 1600 Pennsylvania the 2/3rds of the time he’s not vacationing at Crawford.

    Rather, the use of terms like Resident Bush (or George Carlin’s trope of continuing to call him “Governor”) is meant as a rhetorical (and as it turned out, highly ineffective) means to state that the perceived legitimacy of the election should in turn affect the powers the presidency wields, and to do so by fomenting Constitutional political opposition against him.

    That said, here’s my question: your “suck up and deal” suggestion (which effectively sums up your more politely-worded position) leaves very little avenue for a president who assumes power using illegitimate methods. It seems to me that this is precisely what caused several smoking guns to be ignored in both the 2000 and 2004 elections (while conceding that the lack of official response is precisely what makes it impossible to prove my point). The logical result of your argument is to encourage campaigns to steal whatever they can, because once they make it to December certification, they’re home free.

    Finally, what continues to boggle my mind is the innumeracy involved in equating the two sides of the argument about how “everyone” is involved in voter fraud. The fraud you can perpetrate by ACORN-style registrations is a tiny fraction of what you can do by rigging electronic systems, or by having your secretary of state ensure that voting is more difficult in the neighborhoods of your opponents. In recent years, the large scale kinds of potential fraud (which, again, are difficult to prove when we rely solely on journalists to haphazardly document the effects years after the fact) are uniformly Republican methods, while the small scale kinds of potential fraud are uniformly Democratic. Our public presumption of equivalence here is precisely what encourages large scale frauds to proliferate, and to build systems that make proving fraud impossible.

  41. I haven’t read all of these comments here, so maybe someone has already brought this up. Is there anything that would cause you to oppose a sitting president to the point such that you would no longer recognize his or her authority as president?

    I would like to believe that, in my case, the answer is yes. Thoreau once said that our nation needs people of conscience more than law abiders. If a sitting president were to set up death camps in the US, I would like to believe that I would no longer recognize the authority of that president.

    Perhaps the test case is whether or not the president violates the Constitution. This is somewhat shaky ground since interpretations of the Constitution vary widely. Personally, I have not reached the point where I would outright dismiss the authority of a president. But that doesn’t mean the question doesn’t tickle my mind occasionally.

  42. I’m not sure what the big deal here. Whenever somebody says that Bush is a horrible president, aren’t they implicitly accepting that Bush is the president? So I fully acknowledge that Bush is the president. A truly horrible one but he is the president.

    With that said, I don’t see a problem with questioning legitimacy if there truly was problems with the elections. I don’t forsee any, but if there truly were any then ignoring those problems simply because the Constitution doesn’t ensure fair elections and the letter of the text was followed would seem to make a mockery of democracy.

    I’m not saying that’s what you saying Scalzi. I just wanted to point out that there could be a situation in which one could genuinely question legitimacy. But I agree that most of the time, these claims of voter fraud aren’t that convincing.

  43. Jeff Porten:

    “your ‘suck up and deal’ suggestion (which effectively sums up your more politely-worded position) leaves very little avenue for a president who assumes power using illegitimate methods.”

    I’m not sure why you think that is so. If a president is elected through fraud, and the fraud was perpetrated or directed by the president while a candidate, there’s no reason why the then-president could not be impeached and put on trial. Likewise, a president who is fraudulently installed into office could be pushed to voluntarily resign through protest and civil disobedience.

    Josh Kidd:

    “Is there anything that would cause you to oppose a sitting president to the point such that you would no longer recognize his or her authority as president?”

    If it got to that point I would suggest pushing for impeachment, not making the unilateral (and largely useless) declaration the you no longer recognize their authority as president.

    This is not to say one could not, say, engage in civil disobedience against a president. But in being civilly disobedient, one is willing to accept the legal consequences of making a moral statement.

  44. Josh Kidd, I believe what you’re suggesting is that a President that enacts extra-Constitutional behaviors should not be considered President any longer. The Constitution provides for this through impeachment. Until the President is found, by jury (in the case of impeachment, Congress) to be guilty of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”. Until such time as Congress judges this to be the case, by formal edict, the President *remains* your President, whatever your personal view of the situation. Should Congress *not* so judge, then your view is, legally, inaccurate. The President remains your President. If you determine Congress to have acted in error, then it is your obligation to remove that Congress from power.

  45. I have always felt that the whole, “He’s not MY President!” meme, was childish.
    Part of what makes our democratic republic work (more or less) is that everyone (in theory) should be adult enough to realize that they don’t get to “win” every time, and that if the other “team” wins it’s not the end of the world.
    Have we, as a nation, lost our ability to cohere, once a given candidate is in office? My history may be fuzzy, but I seem to recall Republicans rallying to FDR, especially once Pearl Harbor happened, because whether they liked him or not, he was still their President.
    I will most likely not vote for Obama. I consider him a token for guilty white liberals, and little more. I am also not happy with his experience, nor the church he attended, nor some of the associates he chose as a younger man. I think he is the least fit of all the four wannabes in this cycle, and I would be happiest if someone else won.
    But it seems fate will decree Obama a winner, come November; barring some unforseen event. When that happens, I will swallow whatever ill feeling I have, respect the man as the top officer in my CoC, and respect him as the figurehead of my nation.
    I will also avoid, whenever possible, “Hoping for the worst!” as a way to criticize Obama through national failure. We’ve seen a lot of that lately — grown men and women who are happy when things go badly in America, because it makes Mr. Bush look terrible — and I want no part of it.
    I will hope for Obama to do well. I will be a grown up.
    I wish more people had had this attitude over the last 8 years.

  46. @23 Frank:
    Have you lived in Europe? If so, which country?

    Not to turn this into an argument about where in the world is better, but my relatives in Ireland certainly enjoy living there and don’t feel they’re screwed for civil liberties (and hey, free college!). My friends who live in France are far better informed and involved in their political process than many of my friends in the States. The radio and tv news programs I listen to that originate in Canada or Britain are much less fear-mongering feeling than our news (ahem, ‘Child Fire Bad’? ‘What you don’t know about your purse could kill you’? are just a couple I saw on the primetime news here at home) and cover global news far more thoroughly (indeed, for years the only way to get real information on the Iraq war was through other countries news).

    I think there are advantages and disadvantages to wherever a person chooses to live. I just personally worry about our liberties slipping further away. I also worry that my tax dollars aren’t going to the sorts of programs I’d like them to be supporting.

    So before you make a one-liner dismissive statement like that, I’m curious what your evidence is. Because all of my personal experience says otherwise.

    And if it’s a ‘socialism is evil’ sort of argument you’ll be making, save it. I’m about as liberal/socialist/what have you as you can get in many ways :)

  47. Frankly, I have always wondered about U.S. citizens who endlessly compare the U.S. to Europe, and ding the U.S. in the process. Past a certain point, the inevitable question arises, “If it’s so much better over there, why on Earth are you still living here?”

  48. For party registration, I see it as a tool to get candidates I like on the the ballots for the party that I’m most aligned with. We get a lot of new politicians out here in my neighborhood,and I like to meet with them, see if I like them, and if I do, I try and get them onto the ballot, and vote for them in the primary. It hasn’t always worked, but it means I get to talk to all of the local candidates. And sometimes it does work. In a small community, mentioning someone’s name on a local mailing list can make a huge difference.

    There’s something to be said for being a registered independent, but there’s also a lot to be said for deciding who gets the party nomination.

  49. What I mean is what I said: That regardless of the outcome, if the president is legally selected in the manner set forth in the Constitution, that all Americans recognize the legitimacy of that process and recognize that person as their president.

    Ah. OK. I guess my disconnect came from the conceptual versus the actual. When I hear “not my president“, my mind says, essentially, “well, I didn’t vote for him“, not an actual intimation that he doesn’t legally hold that position. Of course, while I was typing my message, someone went and did just that.

    I guess I view that statement in the same vein as the oft-heard “I’ll move to Canada” empty threat and give it as much credence. I didn’t much care for Reagan by the end of his run, but I never once considered his presidency illegitimate any more than I do the younger Bush. I don’t like GWB at all…but at no point do I think the process was ever under-minded by some conspiracy. Especially given how many things such administrations were unable to contain, be they the Iran Contra affair, Abu Ghraib or Monica Lewinsky or any of a host of other scandals that don’t seem to be able to remain buried. The only way you can accept that such total conspiracies work is that if you assume that they already have total control, which then requires larger and larger acts of justification and extended logic to make sense.

  50. Frankly, I have always wondered about U.S. citizens who endlessly compare the U.S. to Europe, and ding the U.S. in the process. Past a certain point, the inevitable question arises, “If it’s so much better over there, why on Earth are you still living here?”

    Because this is my fucking country, and I’m a proud citizen of it. Pointing out that things may be better elsewhere is _part_ of being a proud citizen of the USA. “Love it (ignoring all imperfections) or leave it” is a political philosophy of such stupidity that it boggles the mind that any sentient being could hold it.

  51. WizarDru: it is dangerously naive to suppose that language does not impact the speaker and the audience. “You know what I mean” is not an excuse for imprecise language. Say what you mean, because if you don’t, the audience is even more likely to misunderstand you. All hell breaks loose from there.

  52. David,

    You do realize, of course, that discovering and dealing with domestic problems, is not the same thing as perpetually carping about how the U.S. sucks because it’s not a clone of France, Germany, or any of the Scandinavian nations.

    Everybody knows the U.S. has issues. What I don’t like are the snotty Europhiles who live and work in the U.S. but hold their noses like it’s some kind of moral burden.

    Living and working in the U.S., and endlessly bagging on the U.S. via comparison to other nations, is a bit like playing for the Dodgers and endlessly bitching and whining about how the Dodgers aren’t the Angels.

    At some point, people should shut up and get behind the team, or seek free agency.

  53. Have we, as a nation, lost our ability to cohere, once a given candidate is in office? My history may be fuzzy, but I seem to recall Republicans rallying to FDR, especially once Pearl Harbor happened, because whether they liked him or not, he was still their President.

    When the nation is challenged, they don’t rally to their president, they rally to their nation. George W. Bush certainly saw Congress rally to his side after 9/11; but FDR had the ‘luxury’ (if you can call it that) to be facing enemy nation states, not terrorists. Democrats and Republicans together passed things like the Patriot Act; Democrats and Republicans together endorsed military action. Not unilaterally, of course…but that was true, even in FDR’s day. And FDR’s biggest opponents to building up the military weren’t the GOP, they were members of his own party.

    I doubt very much that there are people who want the nation to suffer nearly so much as to be proven right when they decided that something would lead to ruin, whether it be military action in Iraq, the Patriot Act or the DMCA. I don’t doubt there are those who want GWB to fail, regardless of how it affects the nation in the short term, just as I’m certain that there are those who will wait with glee for Obama to make a misstep, should he be elected, just so they can enjoy the schadenfreude and be ‘right.’

    Regardless of who wins, I only want what I think most people want…someone who will guide the nation to safety and prosperity. Many Americans differ on how we reach that goal, but I’d like to believe (naif that I may be) that most of us want the same basic things.

  54. You do realize, of course, that discovering and dealing with domestic problems, is not the same thing as perpetually carping about how the U.S. sucks because it’s not a clone of France, Germany, or any of the Scandinavian nations.

    I’ve not seen any of the latter. I’m sure you can come up with citations/links.

    What I have seen, however, is a lot of folks getting labeled that way when they point out that, hey, the bus is driving off the cliff and maybe the fact that the French are hitting the brakes on their bus is a good thing.

    (Freedom fries, anyone?)

  55. it is dangerously naive to suppose that language does not impact the speaker and the audience.

    I’m not sure where I said anything of the kind. I simply stated what I interpreted a sentence to mean. I think I’ve got a solid grasp on how it impacts me and that’s all I was speaking about. Whether I’m dangerously naive or not is another topic entirely.

  56. John,

    Your point about civil disobedience is well taken, but I still say this:

    On July 4, 1776, a group of men assembled and (to great use) rejected the authority of their king and parliament. They had no legal grounds for doing this. I’m not saying that we are at this point in our country again. I am saying that I can imagine such a thing being warranted.

  57. #19: Voting on both sides is contrary to the purpose of the primary, which is for members of each party to select the candidate who best fits the party’s platform and goals. I’m fortunate to live in a state (Texas) where I don’t have to register in a party at all, but even then, I have to pick one ballot or the other when the primaries roll around. I can’t order a la carte from the full menu. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

  58. Josh Kidd:

    I think that’s pretty much a once-in-the-lifetime-of-a-country event, don’t you? (Mind you, some folks tried a similar maneuver on February 4, 1861, but it didn’t turn out so well for them.)

  59. I think that what people mean when they say “he’s not my president” is that they don’t feel he represents them. Not that they’re disputing the fact that he’s holding the office.

  60. izanobu @49

    So before you make a one-liner dismissive statement like that, I’m curious what your evidence is. Because all of my personal experience says otherwise.

    And if it’s a ’socialism is evil’ sort of argument you’ll be making, save it. I’m about as liberal/socialist/what have you as you can get in many ways :)

    Well you said “Civil Liberties” and I took that to mean all those things that people think are worse here under Bush.

    Things like Free Speech and Privacy (especially freedom from wiretapping).

    I didn’t take it to mean “Socialism” or “free college”.

    So the fact is that Europe is worse than the US in both these areas; Free Speech and Privacy.

    From TechRepublic

    The fact is
    that in much of Europe wiretapping is de rigueur—practiced more regularly and with less oversight than in the United States. Most Europeans either don’t know about this or, more likely, simply don’t care.

    The extensive European taps are not new developments, made in the heat of passion after the London and Madrid bombings. European governments have been bugging phones for decades. In theory, the European Convention on Human Rights forbids “arbitrary wiretapping,”but, as we’ve learned in the United States, arbitrary is in the ear of the wiretapper.

    The three worst offenders are not countries you would suspect of playing fast and loose with civil liberties: Britain, Italy, and the Netherlands. Italian officials conduct tens of thousands of wiretaps each year. Technically, judicial approval is needed but since judges
    in Italy are “investigative,” meaning they act more like our
    prosecutors, there is essentially no check on law enforcement’s ability to eavesdrop.

    In Britain, police have an even easier time tapping phones. The home secretary, a Cabinet minister, approves all wiretaps. Judges have nothing to do with it.

    Or, to put it in American terms, imagine Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff authorizing wiretaps of anyone he deems fit—only without the pesky questions from the media and Congress.

    Gus Hosein, an analyst with Privacy International, calculates that, given the number of wiretaps in the U.K., the home secretary approves a new wiretap every few seconds.

    Now when you talk about Ireland I don’t know if you mean Northern Ireleand or the Republic of Ireland. Obviously Northern Ireland conforms to the same wiretapping protocols as Great Britain (that is to say there are none). The Constitution for the Republic of Ireland has no expressed right to privacy. “The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizens.” Which is, of course, no garuntee at all.

    Britain has more public surveillence camera’s than any other country of which I am aware. They call them “Community safety cameras” “Currently, there are a staggering 4.2 million plus cameras in the country — one for every 14 people.”

    Now that’s surveillence.

    Free speech? I can not think of a single European country that does not have restrictions on free speech, far in excess of our own. In Germany there are books (such as Mein Kamph) that you can not buy and are illegal to own. In France and Germany you can be arrested and held criminally libel for saying certain things.

    Former actress Brigitte Bardot, who is 73 and an animal rights activist, “was convicted of inciting racial/religious hatred in relation to a letter she wrote, a copy of which she sent to Nicolas Sarkozy when he was Interior Minister of France. The letter stated her objections to Muslims in France ritually slaughtering sheep by slitting their throats without stunning them first. She also objected to France’s rapidly growing Muslim community trying to take over France and impose their culture, values, lifestyles etc. on France and its native people. The trial[26] concluded on 3 June 2008, with a conviction and fine of fifteen thousand Euros, the largest of her fines to date. The prosecutor stated that she was tired of charging Bardot with offences related to racial hatred.[5]Muslims are “Islamizing France””

    This was her 5th conviction for inciting “racial hatred”.

    “Racism is not an opinion in France,” said Mouloud Aounit, president of the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship of People (MRAP). “It is a crime.”

    Italian novelist Oriana Fallaci and French novelist Michel Houellebecq both were put on trial in 2005 for things they wrote.

    I could go on, but you get the picture.

    And don’t get me started about the Civil Right to defend oneself. If you think it’s bad in Washington DC, don’t go to Britain. In 1999 a man named Tony Martin who was 55 at the time shot two burglers who were in his house. He killed one and wounded the other. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. To add insult to injury, one of the burglers applied for public aid so he could sue Martin for shooting him. And he got it.

    These days handguns are more prevelent in Britain than ever, but for the most part only criminals and cops have them. And if you do by chance are legally able to own one, god forbid you shoot a criminal breaking into your house with it.

  61. Came to the party late – but as a filthy limey I have to point out that Mycroft @1 was completely wrong in regard to what I think John is talking about here and how things are in the UK.

    The President (whoever it may be) is your Head of State. Whoever it is therefore should be supported regardless of affiliation when they represent the United States of America on the world stage or anywhere else (no matter how much of dick you think they are).

    Conversely – us folks in the UK will happily call Gordon Brown “Stalin” and dis’ him to all and sundry – and have the more polite folks thinking “Tut, that’s your country you are being rude to”. In thinking that, they are of course wrong – the Prime Minister is not our Head of State.

    The Prime Minister is just another power grubbing politician (albeit “First amoungst equals”). Our Head of State is the Queen, and just to confuse things further those of us who’ve had to pledge allegiance do so to the Crown, not the monarch herself (so my loyalty lies with, but seperately from, the aristo who won the accident of birth lottery. That said Elizabeth is one heck of a representative).

    Errr – to summarise: You need to be aware that whoever gets elected becomes your Head of State and represents you and your country on the world stage (and the rest of the world is important!).

    And remember that other people do things differently – don’t copy us in taking the mickey out of the top trough-gobbler without your own monarch!

    (And apologies to any who may have taken offense about some of thing things said about PRESIDENT Bush by some of my countrymen – the above is a distinction lost on people this side of the Atlantic as well).

  62. And re Frank @64

    True about the wiretapping, cameras etc in the UK – and it is a cause for concern.

    The stuff about Tony Martin though was distorted and pure “Daily Mail” (think Fox News). Martin was a somewhat unstable vigilante used as a poster boy for the pro-gun, anti-gypsy/immigrant, flog’em brigade and irrelavent to the current discussion. (If you really want to read more there’s an article here).

  63. John Scalzi: If a president is elected through fraud, and the fraud was perpetrated or directed by the president while a candidate, there’s no reason why the then-president could not be impeached and put on trial. Likewise, a president who is fraudulently installed into office could be pushed to voluntarily resign through protest and civil disobedience.

    Well, that raises some interesting questions.

    1) Your first issue is that the discovery of said fraud is going to be politicized; barring truly breathtaking crimes, one would expect the party of the president to reflexively close ranks and prevent an investigation. This, to my mind, is what legitimizes the populace calling the president illegitimate, as that’s the basis for the political will to do the investigation in the first place.

    2) Your point about impeachment misses two loopholes, as I understand it: first, you can only be impeached for crimes committed while in office; second, you can only be impeached for what you do, not what others do for you. So a candidate who steals an election with sufficient plausible deniability gets to stay where he is. Again, the recourse here is for protestors to do what they can to shut him down.

    The basic problem with the “one president at a time” theory is that you can’t appeal past the Supreme Court, and that we don’t have an established mechanism for reversing elections that were fraudulent. Let’s say we discovered ironclad evidence of theft of 2004 Ohio in 2006 — what then, kemosabe? Your political recourse is with the minority party — and when they’re acting like laughingstocks, well, you’re stuck with radicalized speech.

    Personally, I’d prefer to see much of this anger directed into the political will to hold elections that don’t need UN monitoring in Cleveland. But seeing as how you go into an election with the voting booths you have, not the ones you want to have — yeah, I expect that some losing McCainiacs will think that Obama is not their president. Much preferable to convince them that Obama is not, in fact, a Muslim terrorist. But you know, for those that genuinely do believe such things, I can certainly understand why they wouldn’t just get over it.

  64. @50 Sub-Odeon: I’m not saying Europe or the US are better necessarily. I’m just pointing out that there are trade-offs for living in either place. I’m glad I have the freedom to live wherever. I also think a lot of people complain/compare the US to Europe but live in the US because 1) actually moving is hard, there are permits, visas, living arrangements etc… to consider and 2) many of us live near where we grew up. Moving away from friends and family (ie the support system) is very difficult. People will tolerate a lot to be with people they love.

    @Frank: You make good points, however, I see some of those as trades for the benefits the governments/policies there give you (and I meant the Irish Republic (family is in Kildare), not N Ireland).
    By the way, one of my friends got sued by a thief who broke into his house and got attacked by the cat. The police caught the thief when neighbors reported screaming. Fortunately for my friend, they were able to produce evidence of a sign that said “beware of cat” (given to them as a joke by other friends), so the suit was thrown out. There are a bevy of stupid lawsuits from burglars (who get caught, clearly) aimed at the people they robbed. And proving self-defense isn’t actually that simple, so please be careful before you shoot someone in your home.
    As for wire-tapping, don’t get me started on the US policies these days. General policy seems to be “what the American public doesn’t know about can’t hurt us”. There are so many loopholes now for the Government to slide through, I doubt they could all be closed without dissolving Homeland Security and reversing the Patriot Act.

  65. Jeff Porten:

    “Your point about impeachment misses two loopholes, as I understand it: first, you can only be impeached for crimes committed while in office; second, you can only be impeached for what you do, not what others do for you.”

    Article II, Section 4 states: “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” It doesn’t specify that these “high crimes and misdemeanors” need to have been performed while in office, and I suspect that if a president were to have been discovered to have engineered a fraudulent election, you could make a compelling argument that high crimes did occur. So I suspect your understanding of impeachment is flawed here.

    If someone else engineered a fraudulent election without the president’s knowledge, and that fraud was sufficient to change the outcome of the election, then in my opinion the president should not be impeached, although I suspect the correct political course at that time would be for him (or her) to resign, along with the Vice-President, and allow the Speaker of the House to assume the presidency, as directed by the Constitution. If such a president did not willingly resign, and the evidence was clear they had been fraudulently elected, at that point I suspect you would have a reasonable case for impeachment, because the dude is knowingly perpetrating a fraud.

    In either case impeachment serves its purpose.

    As for any impeachment proceeding being politicized, if there is clear and unambiguous evidence the president perpetrated fraud to get elected (or intends to perpetrate fraud by not resigning when it becomes clear his position was won by subterfuge), I suspect you’ll find the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate going out of their way to save their own asses or even, possibly, deciding to do the right thing by the Constitution. cf: Watergate, in which it was clear Nixon would have been impeached had he not resigned.

  66. Andy W @66

    True about the wiretapping, cameras etc in the UK – and it is a cause for concern.

    The stuff about Tony Martin though was distorted and pure “Daily Mail”

    OK. I’ll see your Tony Martin and raise you Tony Singh

    A shopkeeper could face a murder charge following a fatal struggle with a knife-wielding raider.

    Tony Singh fought back when Liam Kilroe, a career criminal, ambushed him in his car after closing time.

    Kilroe, who was trying to steal Mr Singh’s takings, staggered away with a stab wound from his own knife and died in a pool of blood.

    The 25-year-old was on the run after being charged with two robberies.

    Police called to the scene found Mr Singh in a state of shock, still sitting in his car and nursing serious knife wounds to his back, face and neck.

    However, the officers arrested the 34-year-old and are preparing to send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

    A murder charge would carry a life sentence on conviction.

    izanobu @68

    You make good points, however, I see some of those as trades for the benefits the governments/policies there give you

    And that’s fine. That’s how see the relatively modest incursions (comparatively speaking) in this country as well.

    It’s just that when you say (as you originally did back at 16)

    One of the things that traveling Europe extensively a few years ago showed me was that there are other places in the world to live where my civil liberties might not be at stake

    You make it sound as if you have more civil liberties in Europe than you do in the US which is not true.

    It also makes it seem that you are willing to cut Europe way more slack than you are willing to cut your own country. What’s up with that?

    If tomorrow John Scalzi was brought to trial for something he wrote in a fiction novel, what would you say about that?

    Just askin’

  67. @70 Frank

    [i]OK. I’ll see your Tony Martin and raise you Tony Singh[/i]

    Excellent example of how to spin a “news” story. The police had to prepare a file for the CPS and arrest him. He’d killed someone – it’s thier job and they are obliged to do it even in a clear case of self defence (rule of law – sorry about that, but the police collect evidence, it’s up to the courts to prosecute ). Also bear in mind “Tony was arrested on suspicion of murder after paramedics found him sitting on the robber, clutching the bloodied three-inch blade.”

    Your bluff failed – see what happened to him here.

    You also lose points for forcing me to consult the gutter press :p.

    (For those of you not wanting to look at The Sun, and who can blame you, he was never detained and was informed it was a clear case of self defence with all charges dropped.)

    Actually this frustrates me big-time since this sort of crap is being pushed all the time by foreign-owned newspapers over here for thier own agendas – but that’s another discussion. Apologies to John for the digressions, and I’ll shut up now even if provoked.

  68. As a person outside the U.S. I must tell you that the rest of the world will never forgive the American voting public if they elect “the other guy”. We were stunned when Bush was elected the first time and utterly appalled when he was elected for a second term.
    If the republican candidate is elected no amount of apologies on sorryeveyone.com will be enough to quell the anger and frustration felt by the rest of the free world.
    What the American public needs to understand is that their voting choices effect not just their own nation, but a good proportion of the world. The American administration is very vocal, (in fact obnoxiously vocal), and tends to shove it’s views down the throats of the entire world.
    When you go to the polls _please_ keep in mind that the people you vote for are not just going to run your country, they are going to represent you and your views to the entire planet.
    That having been said, do you want those represented views to be those of McCain and Palin?
    I cannot express how deeply unpopular their views are outside the U.S.
    McCain and Palin are seen as arrogant, xenophobic, obnoxious and more than a little scary.
    It would be a shame to have that them represent all Americans, because I feel sure that the majority of Americans are not arrogant, xenophobic or obnoxious. I expect the feel the same way we do. They are hard working, and have the same dreams and aspirations for the future of their children. I believe they wish to make a positive contribution to the world, but there is a danger that these positive attributes will be over shadowed by the scarily fundamentalist rhetoric spouted by the Republican candidates.

  69. When I hear some people going on about “He’s not my president–I didn’t vote for him!” I sometimes wonder how far they might take their arguments. Coupled with the latest rousing of the pitchfork and torch crowd, (and the half-hearted) attempts to defuse the resulting mobocracy, I get a little nervous.

    John Wilkes Booth
    Charles Guiteau
    Leon Czolgosz
    Lee Harvey Oswald

    I sure hope the recent acrimony will not make that list
    longer.

  70. That is a very noble and high-minded sentiment. It does absolutely nothing to keep me from thinking poorly of the idiots who elected a bad president. In fact, I have called in several responsibility chits over the past year. I told people who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 that I would hold them personally responsible for what happened to this nation as a consequence. They now profess some confusion and “disappointment” that a low-grade moron could not successfully steer the ship of state or respond well to a variety of crises, but sthey eem to think that they should be forgiven because they “had no idea” and “could never have guessed that he would be this bad.”

    Well, they did have an idea because I told them so, and now they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge their complicity in the greatest catastrophe to befall this nation in over a century.

    If every vote counts, shouldn’t every vote be cast with due deliberation and consideration? Of course it should. Is it? Of course not. People vote for their own self-interest, for their key issues, based upon fear, based upon rascism, based upon age or gender discrimination, whatever strikes their fancy. Pity the thinkers and achievers whose votes are nullified, then overwhelmed by the masses, for they will eventually leave and seek warmer climes. Aristotle was right: the smart vote with their feet.

    This is the source of so much of the anger and hostility: there will be no consequences. No consequences for President Bush, no consequences for those of his administration who have not yet been indicted, no consequences for their supporters, no consequences for the lobbyists who funded them, no consequences for the big-money businesses who just plundered the public coffers to the tune of $700 billion, and no consequences for the Congress-critters who not only let that one pass, but actively promoted it as good, proper and necessary. The American people has utterly abdicated its’ responsibility to keep elected officials on a tight leash, and now those leaders run amok without a care, for nobody can or will oppose them – because as Mr. Scalzi claims “it is wrong.”

    Well, which is more wrong: to permit the destruction of your nation by incompetents, liars, thieves, oathbreakers and criminals who ignore the law or to oppose such behavior? Who is the criminal when the laws regarding immigration, financial reporting, public records and disclosures, and ethical representation are broken routinely?

    The ancient Greeks had it right when they put public leaders up for trial at the end of their term. If the public was well-satisfied, the leader was permitted to retire. If the public was not satisfied, the leader was executed.

    You see, the Greeks were fairly serious about good government and they understood how grave the consequences of bad government could be.

    Here in the US, we apparently don’t give a fig about any of that. We apparently just hope for the best and keep muddling along. It seems we must learn hard lessons on this subject before any action is taken.

    But the smart will be long-gone before then.

  71. @ Frank: The article you point to is not very accurate. I can’t talk about other European countries, but I live in France and I know that they painted with a very broad brush, there. They don’t seem to realize that the whole Mitterrand era “administrative wiretapping” was a huge scandal here, not something that got brushed under the carpet. It led to condemnations, stricter guidelines for law enforcement agencies and enhanced public vigilance about these issues.

    There are other civil liberties problems in our country (we could really do with something similar to impeachment, for instance), but there’s been nothing similar to the Patriot Act.

    The conclusion of the article is doubly wrong:

    And Europeans have no equivalent to the American Constitution, which enshrines the right of individuals to be free from government coercion.

    1) Europe is not one country, like the USA.
    2) The constitution of each European country does its own enshrining of the right of individuals, just as the US constitution do. The UK has the habeas corpus (they even invented it). In France, it’s the Declaration of Human Rights, placed at the beginning of our constitution.

    You may also be interested in the fact that the European Union is building, slowly but steadily, institutions to enhance democracy and civil liberties European level. Look up “European Court of Human Rights”, for instance. It’s a high court where citizens of all EU countries can appeal after a condemnation in their own country. A kind of international supreme court, you may say.

    Another thing: “freedom of speech”, or what you seem to view as lack of it in Europe. Sure, there are laws prohibiting hate speech in several European countries, including France, and it’s viewed as a trade between freedom of speech and prevention of violence. In other words: there are some kinds of hate speech which, for historical reasons, are viewed as the equivalent of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

    (I’ll let you figure why the Germans think it’s not desirable to let Neo-Nazis republish Mein Kampf in their country.)

    Moreover, I don’t know where you get your informations about Europe, but from what you say, it doesn’t seem to be very accurate. For one thing, it’s not one country, so you can’t talk broadly about what happens “in Europe”. Even countries who are part of the EU don’t have a common legal and judiciary system – far from it! And lots of European countries are still not part of EU.

    I’m thinking you may be getting your information from very slanted sources, because you point at exactly the same handful of cases that are repeatedly distorted by the right-wing extremists, here.

    In the case of Ms Bardot, the article you are copy-pasting (without attibution) is dedicated to make her sound as the victim. Yeah, right. If she just stated that she objected to ritual slaughter of sheep or expressed her concern for traditional lifestyle, she would have a point. But she actually made a habit of publishing rabid screeds where she compares Muslims to animals. But, far from being seen as a wingnut, she’s quite respected in the public for her charity work. She’s a close friend of the prominent right-wing politician Le Pen (also, not surprisingly, a xenophobic loudmouth). Sarkozy listens closely to her and even used some of her talking points in his presidential campaign last year.

    In fact, both politicians have often stated the same ideas about protecting traditional “values, culture and lifestyle” (ie., if you want to be blunt, “Keep France White”). It’s not something I agree with, but it has a lot of traction in the electorate in general. The point is, where Bardot (and sometimes Le Pen) go to far and use hatred speech, thus giving legal ammo to their adversaries, the more clever Sarkozy wraps the same idea in nicer vocabulary, thus being elected.

  72. At 69 John said:

    “…cf: Watergate, in which it was clear Nixon would have been impeached had he not resigned.”

    I think it was pretty clear Nixon would have been impeached and *convicted*. Remember that Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached. But neither was convicted in their Senate trials.

    George

  73. You know what, I *do* believe that both the 2000 and 2004 elections were outright stolen from their rightful winners by a combination of jerrymandering, voting machine fraud, voter intimidation, and other tricks. Having the Electoral College declare the winner in this type of situation is rather close to Sarah Palin doing an ‘internal investigation’ into her own alleged misconduct and declaring that she’s innocent. The system *can’t* work that way.

    If McCain actually wins this election (and I’m *really* hoping that the expected Obama-win results are so large that the normal GOP election-rigging mechanisms aren’t enough to magically swing it his way), I would not be surprised to see some serious violence on the part of the populace, and, if it’s directed against the GOP, I wouldn’t be against it, though I rather suspect it would be something completely at cross-purposes like the normal looting and arson.

    It’s well past time for an actual bullets-flying revolution in this country, but it’s also too late, considering the technology possessed by our modern military (you DO know that an entire brigade has been stationed in the U.S. as of October 1, right?). No handgun and hunting rifle-equipped uprising will succeed without the help of a well-planned military coup, and I’m not not sure that any military person raised in this America would have the nads to do that. We’ve all been indoctrinated with “the peaceful transfer of power is the most important and precious aspect of our society” bit. It is not, and in fact, it CANNOT be, for if it is, then that trumps justice, which I think we’ve seen quite enough of lately. The Constitution itself has been rendered almost limb from limb over the last 7+ years, and a peaceful transfer of power to someone who endorses virtually everything that has happened during that time is unethical in the extreme.

    A society with deeply ingrained peaceful transfer of power makes for a very stable government, true. I’ve heard the U.S. is the oldest democracy in the world, and it wouldn’t surprise me. The problem is that it also prevent radical changes, even if they’re desperately needed. I think some radical changes ARE needed now.

  74. That was well written and explained. I don’t like Bush, but as much as I would like him to not be my president…he is. Despite his best or worst efforts he hasn’t completely destroyed this country and I thank God I am living in a country that only gives any President the maximum of 8 years to screw up. This is still the greatest land and the best government to live in and under in the world. We should be grateful that we are given a chance every four years to reevaluate and replace when necessary.

    But just the same….I too will be praying for McCain’s good health should he become President. If my choice becomes President, I will pray that he will learn fast and well. Either way….the next four years are going to find me down on my knees a lot.

  75. KIA:

    “The ancient Greeks had it right when they put public leaders up for trial at the end of their term. If the public was well-satisfied, the leader was permitted to retire. If the public was not satisfied, the leader was executed.”

    Cite, please. The term “ancient Greeks” is wildly nebulous (which ancient Greeks? Spartans? Athenians? Some other sort?) and while I am well versed in Greek history, I’m not aware of a Greek civilization that regularly put its leaders on trial at the end of their terms without cause. Athenians, for example, could and did put their leaders on trial, both during and after their terms, but not all of them, and not without cause.

    As for “It does absolutely nothing to keep me from thinking poorly of the idiots who elected a bad president,” I’m not sure why you think it should, or alternately, why you think I think it should.

    People apparently continue to have a hard time grasping the idea that recognizing someone is legitimately one’s president does not equal uncritical acceptance of what they do in that role. Is it really that hard to grasp?

  76. @Alchemist: As a person outside the U.S. I must tell you that the rest of the world will never forgive the American voting public if they elect “the other guy”…. That having been said, do you want those represented views to be those of McCain and Palin?…

    Now THAT burns my britches. I’m not voting to make the rest of the world happy or unhappy. I’m voting in what I think are the best interests of me, my family, and my country. If the rest of the world is unhappy… too bad. Man up and live with it. You cannot run your own country if you’re more concerned about what the guys down the road think. I’m pretty sure Russia didn’t ask _me_ if it was okay for Putin to get re-elected and I can’t think of another country on the face of the planet that feels the need to apologize for running their government like the fools on sorryeveyone.com felt the need to.

    Personally, I don’t think the old guy or the (more than likely) corrupt junior senator from Illinois are task, but as Don Rumsfield once said, “You vote for the guys you have, not they guys you wish you had or hope to have at some point in the future.” Personally, I hope McCain wins because watching the Obama die hards choke on their sense of entitlement and outrage will make for FANTASTIC theater for the next four years.

  77. Tumbleweed@78 – Your ideas are intriguing to me and I’d like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Seriously, you’ve said everything I believe, and better than my foaming rhetoric could possibly have said it. There is plenty of proof of the voter frauds perpetrated in 2000 and 2004. But when the people who investigate that sort of thing are the ones perpetrating it, or are a part of the mechanism that did, there really is no recourse for the people. It’s as if saying there is a conspiracy makes one paranoid so no one believes you, even if there is a conspiracy, which now no one will acknowledge because they have already said to believe in one makes you paranoid.

    John@80 – I don’t generally disagree with you. But in this case you are stating a “fact” but missing the point. I understand Bush is the President. But he does not represent my ideals, and is therefore not “my” idea of president. That is what I mean when I say (which I generally don’t but for this topic I am) he is not “my” president. He is not. He exists, is the recognized leader of this country, sets policy, etc. He is the president of my country, but not “my” president. It is a semantic argument, but one that is important to me. Is it really that hard to grasp?

  78. ” feel sure that the majority of Americans are not arrogant, xenophobic or obnoxious. ”

    Actually, we are forced to choose one of those in kindergarten. They let me pick two!

  79. If Scalzi were going to be arrested because of something he’d written on a political level, it is more likely he’d just be taken rather than put on trial. The laws are written in such a way that all someone (generally someone with some political/monetary power) has to do is accuse him of treason or inciting terrorism and he can be detained indefinitely. So he might never even get a trial. (Note: I personally? I’d be sad. Clearly. Scalzi rocks and Whatever is a great platform for interesting discussions.)

    I don’t exactly cut Europe more slack. I think that I’d be willing to cut a government more slack if it took my tax dollars and turned them into things I want like good schools, a strong infrastructure, and comprehensive, cheap health coverage. Right now, I have none of these things in the US, so I expect to have other things. The Government, in my opinion, should be for the people, not something outside the people.

    It’s why I vote, after all. :)

  80. @ 78 Tumbleweed (you DO know that an entire brigade has been stationed in the U.S. as of October 1, right?).

    I really don’t know how not to giggle at that statement. What are you REALLY trying to say here? That a single brigade of the US army will impose martial law across the entire U.S.?

  81. #81: I’m not voting to make the rest of the world happy or unhappy. I’m voting in what I think are the best interests of me, my family, and my country.

    Fair enough. But it may be worth considering whether having the rest of the world think of us as a pack of feckless idiots helps or hinders our national interests.

  82. John, Rick Moran is quite right: if Obama wins the election fair and square, he will be President fair and square. But, as a commenter to DailyPundit (here) points out, just TRY to tell that to the dingalings who are STILL claiming that the Eeevil Bush-Rove Vote-Fraud Conspiracy stole the 2000 and 2004 elections, and that George W. Bush hasn’t been the legitimate President of the United States for the past eight years.

    If McCain manages to pull it together and win the election (and it’s more likely than you might think–the polls 3 weeks before the election had Kerry trouncing Bush in 2004, Gore beating Bush in 2000, and Carter defeating Reagan in 1980), I fully expect there to be riots across the nation, possibly even here in Denver, God help us. However, there are worse nightmare scenarios out there…as pointed out by Jeff Medcalf. If Obama wins narrowly, and is later proven to have won through fraudulent means, and the courts are either unable or unwilling to do anything about it…well, perhaps then we’ve exhausted the soap, ballot, and jury boxes, and it’s time for the fourth box–the ammo box.

    In any event, even if Obama is legitimately elected, he will most certainly not represent MY views; I won’t be voting for him, I will not be supporting him or his policies and programs, and I will be doing whatever I can to see that his presidency fails and his party is destroyed. In other words, I will be giving him exactly the same treatment that the soi-disant “tolerant” liberals have given George W. Bush for the past eight years…with one difference: I won’t stoop to breaking the law.

    Remember what Spider Robinson once said (paraphrasing): “America–love it or leave it!” isn’t a bad slogan, but “love of America” does not mean “blind worship of America,” and “America” does not mean “the man in the White House.” (That’s a universal truth. There are a bunch of things I don’t like about Bush or McCain, either.)

  83. Patrick M – no, a brigade isn’t nearly enough to put down a full-on revolution, but using military troops with military-level equipment, would easily be enough to stop most things from getting under way in the first place, at least in D.C. (I don’t know where they’re stationed).

  84. I hate being late to the party, but I have to ask this question.

    Reading through the comments that have been made on Moran’s reasonable post (even if I don’t agree with it) is downright scary.

    What exactly is reasonable about disappearing an entire decade, and not living in anything resembling reality?

  85. Respect for the office of the president is different than agreeing with or even respecting the man in the office. The office of the President is deserves a level of decorum. We expect it from other leaders around the world.

    I wouldn’t have kept President Bush waiting on the front steps of the White House for lunch (even if it was hot dogs) as McCain did when nominated. That was disrespectful to the office and ill mannered no matter how much of a duffus George W. Bush is.

  86. John

    When they ‘finally’ got around to counting the Florida votes and found out that Gore actually won Florida’s EV. By your thinking here, shouldn’t the Bush team have packed up and vacated the WH? I think so but then again I am a bit biased here.

    I see “43” as having control of the national govt. but I see his ‘presidencies’ as coming with a very big asterisk.
    *un(or murkily)elected, unimpeached, untried-and-convicted illegitimate co-conspiritor.

  87. Erbo:

    “In other words, I will be giving him exactly the same treatment that the soi-distant ‘tolerant’ liberals have given George W. Bush for the past eight years…”

    So, since a bunch of other people were assholes, you’ve decided you’re going to be an asshole, too?

  88. Tumbleweed – there’s something like 6 DIVISIONS(you know, like 5-10 brigades each) “stationed” in Texas. Meaning when they aren’t deployed(say to Iraq or Afganistan) they are in the US. Surprisingly, most of the US troops live in the US.
    Here. Have a look at who lives in Ft. Hood.
    http://pao.hood.army.mil/corps.units.aspx?5

    Where are you getting this level of paranoia that there is some explicit plan to put down a revloution and why do you think it would need to be the military, not SWAT or ATF or the National Guard?

  89. Alchemist @72

    As a person outside the U.S. I must tell you that the rest of the world will never forgive the American voting public if they elect “the other guy”.

    Um. Generally speaking I care about this as much as you care about my opinion of your elected leaders. Whoever they are.

    BTW, which country did you say you were from?

    Irene Delse @76

    I’ll let you figure why the Germans think it’s not desirable to let Neo-Nazis republish Mein Kampf in their country.

    Oh I am very well aware of the why. It still doesn’t justify it.

    And the fact remains that though European countries may be striving to be on par with the US regarding Civil Rights, none are there yet as far as I am aware.

    Tumbleweed @78

    It’s well past time for an actual bullets-flying revolution in this country

    Oh really?

    izanobu @84

    If Scalzi were going to be arrested because of something he’d written on a political level, it is more likely he’d just be taken rather than put on trial. The laws are written in such a way that all someone (generally someone with some political/monetary power) has to do is accuse him of treason or inciting terrorism and he can be detained indefinitely.

    Which law? Can you point to anyone who has been jailed and squarreled away for something they have written, let alone put on trial?

    Just name the law and one single person.

    The Government, in my opinion, should be for the people, not something outside the people.

    The Government, in my opinion, should create a level playing field so individuals may pursue happiness: Not guarantee it. But see there we differ.

    And that’s why I vote.

    Nargel @91

    When they ‘finally’ got around to counting the Florida votes and found out that Gore actually won Florida’s EV.

    This is incorrect.

    Every recount done after the election has confirmed that Bush won and Gore lost.

    Get over it.

  90. DanJ@81 and Frank@95

    You may not care about what people outside the US think about your voting choices, and may well not know (or care) who the elected leaders in other countries are, but as Alchemist@72 pointed out, this election impacts on us as well as you. America is the world’s only remaining super power and like it or not, we are all stuck with that, and with the fact that who ends up in the White House, and what they do there matters more to non-americans (becasue it impacts more, and more directly) that what non-american governments or heads of state do matters to you in the US.

    We know that we don’t don’t get to vote for your President, but we do have to live with the consequences.

    You can (and no doubt will) vote for whomever you want, just don’t pretend that it is a purely private matter than doesn’t involve the rest of the world. It isn’t.

  91. I personally don’t much care what “the rest of the free world” thinks of our president. After all, it was the rest of the freee world who let Saajevo, a so-called safe haven become sniper and mortar city. (I’d have snet int he marines, 82nd airborne and 8th airforce and made is safe for the civillians, not for the snipers)

    I also don’t much care for the people who claim bush isn’t thier president, or who complain about republican gerrymandering. Look up how Connie Morella lost her seat in congress (Maryland democratic party Gerrymandered her out of it).

    The fact is that bush is the president. I voted for him in 2000 (didn’t trust Gore) and voted against him in 04 (Thought Kerry was the better choice) and he’s still my president. I don’t always agree with him and wish he’d stand more on principle and less on party positions, but he’s still my president.

    He’s not the president of the free world, not only the president of those who voted for him, he’s the rpesident of the ENTIRE United Stats of America. Do I wish he were a better president? Yes, but that doens’t change who is president.

  92. “High crimes and misdemeanors” are pretty much whatever a majority in the House can stuff into an impeachment bill and make look bad and manage to pass. Getting the Senate to agree is the harder part.

    IMHO both the actual impeachments in our history were Congressional lynch mobs.

  93. The goal of U.S. elections is not to make Teh Werld happy.

    Obviously, there are huge numbers of Americans who have a self-esteem complex, where Teh Werld and Werld Oh-pinyun are concerned.

    Me? I don’t think we need to worry about Teh Werld. If the U.N. is any indicator, Teh Werld and Werld Oh-pinyun are poor gauges by which to set U.S. policy.

    I’d rather have Teh Werld worrying about our political elections, than have us worrying about what Teh Werld might do to us because we’ve allowed ourselves to become so weak, feckless and beholden that we’re no longer able to chart our own course.

    I suspect this is why Europe came up with the E.U. Hence all the language about “counterbalancing” the U.S. in a post-Soviet reality.

    If the E.U. is indeed a counterbalance, it shouldn’t matter to Euros what happens in the States, right?

  94. Marjorie @96

    America is the world’s only remaining super power and like it or not, we are all stuck with that, and with the fact that who ends up in the White House, and what they do there matters more to non-americans (becasue it impacts more, and more directly) that what non-american governments or heads of state do matters to you in the US.

    You know, you could become a Superpower too. Just get away from that stifling Welfare state mindset, encourage entrepreneurs, and stop taxing people to death.

    If we in America continue down the road we are headed, towards a more “European” economic model, there will be a position open for a Superpower. And it could be you.

    Then you can police the sea lanes, be a balance to the Russians and the Chinese, provide disaster relief to the far corners of the Earth and make all those decisions and take on all the responsibilities that a Superpower has.

    Or leave it to the Russians and the Chinese.

    You can (and no doubt will) vote for whomever you want, just don’t pretend that it is a purely private matter than doesn’t involve the rest of the world. It isn’t.

    No national election is a private matter. We all affect each other. The election of Zapatero in Spain after the Madrid bombings were important. As was the recent “elections” in Russia.

    All of these things affect all of us globally.

    So what?

  95. @Sub-Odeon
    “If the E.U. is indeed a counterbalance, it shouldn’t matter to Euros what happens in the States, right?”

    Um, you’re aware what the word “counterbalance” means, right?

  96. Sub-Odeon –

    That’s what I get for trying to be pithy.

    I should have added “from the point of view of those standing on it when what it’s balancing…shifts”.

    Who you elect as your next president will have massive repercussions for the rest of the world, which I happen to live in. So I, like the other Europeans who’ve posted on this thread, find myself taking a strong interest.

    However, I don’t get to vote, I don’t get to tell you how to vote, and I don’t believe in anything I can legitimately pray to. So all I can do is hope that the right guy for you is also the right guy for the rest of us.

    And, of course, tell it to the internets!

  97. You know, you could become a Superpower too. Just get away from that stifling Welfare state mindset, encourage entrepreneurs, and stop taxing people to death.
    If we in America continue down the road we are headed, towards a more “European” economic model, there will be a position open for a Superpower.

    There’s so much historically inaccurate wrapped up in this single statement that it would take a large amount of correction just to get it up to being simply “wrong.”

    Just for a start, European nations started moving seriously towards “cradle to grave” welfare states post WWII. This was *after* they had fought two ruinously expensive total wars that had essentially mortgaged their superpowerness forever more. Their fall from power had little to do with socialism and much to do with the millions of deaths and trillions worth of damages caused by those wars.

  98. “So, since a bunch of other people were assholes, you’ve decided you’re going to be an asshole, too?”

    Its a tradition that goes back 208 years…

  99. Dave @ 92

    to quote from the article you linked to:

    [But the consortium, looking at a broader group of rejected ballots than those covered in the court decisions, 175,010 in all, found that Mr. Gore might have won if the courts had ordered a full statewide recount of all the rejected ballots. This also assumes that county canvassing boards would have reached the same conclusions about the disputed ballots that the consortium's independent observers did. The findings indicate that Mr. Gore might have eked out a victory if he had pursued in court a course like the one he publicly advocated when he called on the state to "count all the votes."]

    As I stated on other occasions but seem to have forgotten this time – “when all the votes were counted”.
    Sorry for my omission this time.

  100. Well one country in Europe did do the superpower thing. TBH it got to be a pain in the bum and has left us with a rather odd legacy (a disproportionatly large military and a very eclectic cuisine).

    An ability with foreign policy is almost as important over here for a senior politician as domestic policy, and thier performance is keenly watched and judged. (Current leaders in the diplomatic stakes are the French – EU presidency, Carla Bruni and a really good Foreign minister help a lot with that!)

    One problem Bush has had was that he followed Clinton, who was brilliant on the diplomatic front. He was never going to look good as a result, but the subsequent handling of some knotty problems (i.e. the Kyoto Agreement) was not only inept, but needlessly insulting.

    For the USA’s friends the last 8 years has at times been downright embarassing, like having a best friend who turns up to social events either drunk or with his trousers on backwards.

    Hopefully whoever gets in will be an improvement on the last incumbent. Unfortunately one candidates performance in particular has left something to be desired (Hint: She got her first passport last year – my daughter has more experience with foreign travel for heaven’s sake, and she’s 13!)

    And this stuff IS important. The US is a net importer of goods and raw materials and after the last few weeks the national debt situation hasn’t exactly improved. Iraq and Afghanistan have overstreached the military to the point that further adventures are flatly out of the question.

    I really do not envy the person who finally gets that job. Good luck to whoever lands it!

  101. #65: The Queen (through her Agent, the Governor General of Canada (who, currently, happens to have been born in Haiti, which is kind of cool) is our Head of State. Harper is our Head of Government. Bush, in the U.S.A., is both.

    The last time our Head of State did anything the Head of Government didn’t want him to was 1926, and it caused a world-wide (at least Commonwealth-wide) change in How Things Worked. I don’t see the Queen at the G8 representing Canada, it’s Mr. Harper. Mr. Bush doesn’t sit down with the Queen to discuss U.S.-Canada relations; he talks to Mr. Harper. The important residence isn’t Windsor Castle (or even Rideau Hall, even if State Affairs (where no affairs of state take place) do happen there), it’s 24 Sussex Drive.

    I sort of think that the Head of Government in Commonwealth democracies – including yours, Andy W – is more on par with the governmental function of the person being described as “not *my* president” than the Head of State.

    You can refer to the President of Oceania any way you wish; but he’s your country’s leader, in the same way the robot-who-would-be-King is mine. I may not like it, I may not trust him, I may do everything in my power to make sure that he never gets a majority, but he’s the leader of my country, and I wish him to be the best he can be, for my country’s sake.

    (Oh, and trust me, we’ve had worse, on both sides of the power struggle).

  102. Thanks Marjorie, I couldn’t have put it better. I didn’t expect some American voters to be in need of enlightenment regarding the effect the American administration has on the rest of the world, despite the obvious link between the U.S. Administration and it’s Foreign Policy.
    Having described itself as the “leader of the free world” for many years I would have thought that the voting public would be aware of how their choices effect other countries.
    I mean, you can’t have it both ways, can you? Either you lead and accept the responsibilities inherent to that position, or you don’t call yourself “leader of the free world”

    However, those that objected to my statement are totally entitled to hold any opinion they wish. That is the price of democracy.

  103. Mycroft @ 109: Big Ooops and apologies!

    I hadn’t realised you were Canadian, and of course your perspective will be different from that in the UK!

    By the look of it the PM of Britain is less of a statesman in the eyes of the populace than the Canadian PM is (which makes sense – that ocean does make quite a difference).

  104. David – Are you saying we shouldn’t invade Canada

    Not at all. I would think that invading Canada would be the first order of business for whoever is the next President.

    Having said that, what’s the rule for America invading one of its own states? Wouldn’t that stop such an invasion?

    (/anti-Canadian snark)

  105. @62(I think that’s pretty much a once-in-the-lifetime-of-a-country event, don’t you? (Mind you, some folks tried a similar maneuver on February 4, 1861, but it didn’t turn out so well for them.)

    I believe it was Thomas Jefferson that said we needed a revolution “every twenty years.” I can’t find the exact quote, but hey, after seeing the religious right nearly succeed in turning this country into a theocracy over the last 8 years, I can certainly get with the sentiment.

This is the place where you leave the things you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s