Saturday, March 18, 2006

Paging Dr. Howard Dean

Howard Dean's chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee gives new meaning to the term "physician-assisted suicide." He's the Jack Kervorkian of politics, administering the lethal dose to the Democratic Party. CNS News reports Dean's comments on plans for the April 22 elections in New Orleans:
The head of the Democratic Party criticized the Justice Department for approving a plan for New Orleans to hold its first elections since Hurricane Katrina.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on Friday called the decision "to pre-clear a problematic plan for next month's New Orleans elections" a "disappointing development that raises serious questions about the integrity of the vote." ...
"The integrity of the vote"! Oh, this is rich. In Chicago, the Daley machine turned out an "army" of city employees, on the taxpayers' dime, to campaign for Rep. Rahm Emanuel and other Democratic candidates. In Detroit, thousands of dead people voted in the last election. In Maryland, Democrats are pushing to expand voting rights for convicted felons. But in New Orleans -- where ex-Mayor Marc Morial's Democratic machine openly handed out checks to people to vote for Sen. Mary Landrieu -- Howard Dean is concerned about "the integrity of the vote." You can't make this stuff up.
"Protecting the right to vote is a fundamental American value. Democrats are committed to helping citizens participate fully in our democracy, but this cannot happen unless our government works to inform voters of how they can most effectively exercise their right to vote," said Dean in a statement.
"Committed." Yes, Dr. Dean is definitely committed. Or needs to be, anyway.

Look, there have been three successful elections in Iraq, a nation devastated by war, riven by ethnic and religious strife, and beleaguered daily by a so-called "insurgency" (in fact, subversive terrorism fomented by Syria, Iran and al-Qaeda). So if they can have elections in Iraq, why doesn't Dr. Dean want New Orleans to have elections?
"We must also do everything possible to maximize the availability of satellite voting locations, not only for early voting but for voting on Election Day as well. This includes reconsidering the possibility of establishing out-of-state satellite voting locations in places where we know there are significant numbers of displaced voters," said Dean. "If we can set up satellite voting stations for Iraqis living in America, there is no reason we can't do the same thing for Americans displaced by Hurricane Katrina," he said.
OK, let's point out why that analogy is totally bogus:
  • If your name is Hassan Ali and you speak Arabic, and you live in the U.S. but want to vote in the Iraqi election, and you have an Iraqi passport and U.S. visa identifying you as Hassan Ali of West Baghdad, officials can be reasonably certain that no vote fraud will be perpetrated on the Iraqi people.
  • If you show up at a "satellite voting location" in Texas, claiming to be Pierre Bosilier of Bourbon Street, Democrats won't even require you to show a photo ID!
Does no one remember the liberal howls when Georgia decided to require photo ID for voting? A leading Georgia Democrat called it "one of the most regressive pieces of voter rights legislation since the Jim Crow era." As a result of this entrenched liberal hostility to what Dr. Dean calls "the integrity of the vote," setting up satellite voting in Houston, Memphis, Atlanta, etc., would be an open invitation to election mischief.

Even if it were possible to verify that only genuine New Orleans evacuees were voting im such satellite locations, the fact is that by Election Day, it will have been more than 6 months since any of these people actually lived in the city. News accounts have repeatedly pointed out that many Katrina evacuees have established lives in their new communities, with new jobs and new homes, and have no desire to return to their former homes. Even if they wanted to go back, many of them no longer have anyplace to return to -- their houses were destroyed by the storm and it's doubtful they'll ever be rebuilt.

Never mind, of course, the question of how a former New Orleans resident now living with relatives in Nashville is supposed to make an informed choice in the April election, where 24 candidates are running for mayor -- including two openly gay candidates, one of whom is delighfully blunt in describing the city's "reputation of corruption, political payoffs and sweetheart deals." (Send that man a copy of DONKEY CONS! We say the same thing, almost word-for-word, in Chapter 8.) An evacuee living in Jackson, Miss., or Little Rock, Ark., probably isn't going to get a lot of information on TV news and in local newspapers to help him evaluate the candidates and their platforms.

Still, if they are genuinely interested in voting in the April elections, Katrina evacuees can call the New Orleans registrar's office and request an absentee ballot. One wonders what all the overheated rhetoric from Dean and others is meant to accomplish; instead of yammering on about "satellite voting," they should just work with FEMA, the Red Cross and other relief agencies to get the simple message out to evacuees: "Here's the number to call if you want to cast an absentee ballot in April."

As Bill Clinton always liked to say, elections are not about the past, they're about the future, and whatever their past in New Orleans may have been, the future for many evacuees will be in Dallas or Atlanta or wherever they've re-settled. The plight of former New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina is tragic, but it won't be helped by demagoguery about "disenfranchisement," any more than it will be helped by angry rhetoric about how many trillions of dollars the federal government should spend to rebuild homes in a flood zone. Instead of pandering to false hopes, responsible political leaders should encourage these people to get on with their lives where they are.

That's what responsible leaders should do. Howard Dean's exploiting of the election issue is apparently just a play to the Kos Kool-Aid drinkers, another transparent attempt to exploit the Katrina disaster. How does he think his "disenfranchisement" demagoguery will play with the suburban "swing" voters, soccer moms and NASCAR dads that the Democrats need to win over if they're going to have any hope of recapturing Congress in November? Does he think Americans are just too stupid to see through his ploy?

Democratic primary voters (and Al Franken) rejected Dean in 2004 because they could see he was not a mainstream candidate and was trying to take the party in the wrong direction. Why the party then turned around and entrusted Dean with the DNC chairmanship is one of the great mysteries of our age. Imagine if, after 1988, the GOP had installed Pat Robertson as RNC chairman, or if Pat Buchanan had been named party chief in 1993.

For all the talk about the Religious Right's influence over the Republican Party, if the GOP were as beholden to Christian conservatives as the Dems now are to the MoveOn moonbats, the Republican Convention would look like a Sand Mountain revival meeting, complete with faith healings, snake-handlers and speaking in tongues.

But it's useless for anyone to try to talk the Democrats out of their lemming-like leftward march to disaster -- Democrats don't even listen to their own voters!

Previous DONKEY CONS coverage of New Orleans:

1/26: Knee-deep in the Big Muddy
2/4: New vote-fraud opportunities
2/15: Morial spews a flood of lies


DONKEY CONS: About the book