A reader writes:
McArdle’s memory is faulty. The 2000 election was held November 7. Gore asked for recounts in four counties on November 9, but offered to accept recounts in all counties on the 15th. This offer was rejected by Bush later that day. The Supreme Court decision was December 8. So the idea to “count all the votes” came 8 days into a process that lasted 31, not “very late in the process,” as McArdle claims.
Another goes into greater detail:
You approvingly quote Megan McArdle’s judgment that it was basically Gore’s fault and endorse the historical scenario she uses to justify that judgment:
The original sin, in my view, was Gore’s attempt to recount just the votes in a few heavily Democratic counties. [….] ”Count all the votes”, which most progressives now remember as the rallying cry, actually came very late in the process, and only after the Supreme Court of the United States told the Florida Supreme Court that no, it couldn’t just let Al Gore add in some new votes from Democratic Counties his team had personally selected.
I’m sorry, but this is just flatly incorrect. After the Florida Supreme Court’s first ruling in favor of the Gore campaign, on November 15, Gore immediately made a public offer to conduct a state-wide manual recount of all the votes in Florida, if the Bush campaign would also agree. Gore did so on several occasions before the US Supreme Court had issued any rulings on the matter. November 15:
I am also prepared, if Governor Bush prefers, to include in this recount all the counties in the entire state of Florida. I would also be willing to abide by that result and agree not to take any legal action to challenge that result. If there are no further interruptions to the process, we believe the count can be completed within seven days of the time it starts.
The Bush campaign rejected that proposal. A lot of lawsuits, countersuits, political fireworks, and other shenanigans followed. The most crucial ruling in favor of the Gore campaign by the Florida Supreme Court came on November 21.
The US Supreme Court first agreed to hear the Bush campaign’s appeal on November 24. The first arguments in the US Supreme Court (which, of course, came before their ruling) were on December 1, 2000. Here’s something that Gore said before December 1, on November 28:
Two weeks ago, I proposed to forego any legal challenge if Governor Bush would let a complete and accurate count go forward, either in the counties where it was proposed or in the full state of Florida. He rejected that proposal and instead became the first to file lawsuits. And now, two weeks later, thousands of votes still have not been counted. [….] Let me repeat the essence of our proposal today: Seven days, starting tomorrow, for a full and accurate count of all the votes.
I’m sorry, but the plain fact is that the Republicans stole the 2000 election, and did so with the active complicity of the US Supreme Court. I know that’s serious language, which we should not use carelessly or casually, but I say it with due consideration, and I think that judgment is clearly supported by the facts.
Some may disagree. But at the very least, we should not rewrite history along the lines of Republican propaganda (currently being spouted, perhaps sincerely, by Megan McArdle.)