Home > The January 7th Problem (News Article with Commentary)
The January 7th Problem (News Article with Commentary)by Open-Publishing - Monday 10 January 2005
January 7th print and other media were quite subdued in regards to the historical significance of the electors challenge on January 6th, 2005. As this was the third time in U.S. history that such an electors challenge has ever taken place, I thought it would be interesting to see what happened after the second, over thirty five years ago. I went to the local library and printed a copy of the front page of our local paper dated Tuesday, January 7th, 1969. Low and behold on the front page was the second story: "State Elector’s Vote is Upheld."
The 1969 story by Roy Parker, Jr. begins: "Congress rejected a move Monday to throw out the electoral vote which a North Carolina Republican elector cast for the third party candidate George Wallace. In a history-making interruption to the usual formality of counting electoral votes, the House and the Senate took two hours to debate a motion to throw out the vote of Rocky Mount eye doctor Lloyd Bailey. The Senate rejected the motion by a vote of 58 to 33. The House spurned it by a vote of 229 to 169. Then in a joint House-Senate session, Congress finished the formality of adding up the 301 electoral votes for Richard M. Nixon, 191 for Hubert Humphrey, and 46 for Wallace."
The 1969 Raleigh News and Observer placed this elector’s challenge story higher than Richard Nixon’s pay raise, an Allegheny plane crash that killed 11 (two weeks after an identical Convair 580 for the same airline crashed), and Nixon administration’s selection of John H. Chafee as the Secretary of the Navy and Dr. Robert C. Seamans as Chief of the Air Force.
Look what the 2005 Raleigh News and Observer thinks is more important than the current elector’s challenge that Barbara Boxer made possible:
"DOT to Slash Area Road Funds"
"Surgical Tools Cleaned improperly"
"Elections Hindered in Sections of Iraq"
In fact, the electors challenge did not make it to the front page at all! That’s right, the Iraq election did but not ours. Let’s not forget John Edwards is a North Carolinian making any electors challenge even more newsworthy. Anything with a chance to put a North Carolinian in the White House should be considered news. In addition, we were talking about 20 electoral votes not just one.
Now let’s see how the New York Times fared in the same comparison. Again, the 1969 topic makes it to the font page in a top story called: "Congress Declines to Cancel Vote Changed by the Elector" by Warren Weaver, Jr. It even ran a large graphic on the controversial session on the front page. Edmund Muskie, Democrat from Maine was the signing Senator.
But in 2005 last week in the same New York Times with a purportedly decent reputation, the topic is eclipsed by:
"Retired General is Going to Iraq for Full Review"
"Gonzales Speaks Against Torture during Hearing"
In fact, the historic electors challenge does not really make the front page at all except that a short description is listed on the bottom under "Inside" (see page A15). The listing "Bush Officially Elected, But Democrats Protest."
It does lure at the bottom with: "Congress officially ratified President Bush’s election victory, but not before Democrats — including one senator, Barbara Boxer of California — lodged a formal challenge to the electoral votes from Ohio, forcing an extraordinary two-hour debate in the only second such challenge to a presidential race since 1877. (Page A15)."
But if it were so extraordinary in its own words, why did the article not get equal billing with the Gonzales pseudo-grilling that will get rubber-stamped?
Interestingly, the defector elector (Bailey) 1969 move was to argue that of the 16,510 electors named since 1789, he was only the sixth to kick party traces. His supporters also argued that their move would dramatize the need for reform of the electoral college system (which has failed through 2005).
The electoral college is a relic based on "the founding fathers didn’t really trust popular elections for national office." How could an illiterate laborer in rural Virginia be able to pick between presidential candidates from far-off Massachusetts or New York? It was believed, in the conditions of those times, that ordinary voters would be subject to deception and inclined to vote only for someone from their own state. This made it likely that the largest state, having the largest vote, would usually elect its own candidate.
Congressman Morris K. Udall of Arizona (August 28, 1968; Vol. VII, No. 2): Congressman’s Report.
No one should be surprised to hear Tom Delay to use the X-Files argument or "there is not a single shred of evidence" mantra. Why on earth would an ex-exterminator question a system that made and make him "a somebody." Four of the Republicans all repeated quotes from the same Cleveland Plains-Dealer editorial that coincidentally made it into the paper that day — since they apparently did not take the time to develop their own arguments and took to scouring the newspapers (an editorial no less!). In fact, despite the outcome, the Democrats absolutely out-argued the emperor’s new clothes crowd. The Conyers Report, The Conyers Report, The Conyers Report.
We remember you were the one that prevented Rush Holt’s (Rep NJ) bill ( http://holt.house.gov/issues2.cfm?i... )
from making it to the floor for a vote. And now we know why. It is hardball you want, it is hardball you shall have. We will do our own penetration testing. That means IT folks will now make public how bad these systems are. Next stop, Texas. And get your pesticide cannister and Rolodex ready.
Robin Baneth. M.S., M.A.
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