Quick: why did you object to the way the Florida recount was handled in 2000, if you did in fact object? Was it some of the Supreme Court justices seeming to contradict their own long-standing principles? Was it the chaos of the recount itself, the lack of preparation for it on the part of Florida? The machinations of one or both parties at various moments? The sense that someone, somehow, had cheated?
I don’t think anyone viewed the way that the election was handled as ideal, but we don’t seem to have learned many general lessons from it. At least, not the lesson that even the perception that someone cheated or broke the rules can have a corrosive effect on the national legitimacy of a political leader.
I hate to keep singing the same tune, but it is incredibly important to me that we have an Administration in 2009 that will bring back a sense of playing by the rules, respecting procedures, and caring about process as much as results. I’m already skeptical about Hilary Clinton in that respect given the kind of campaign she’s run, but if the Clinton campaign continues to maneuver to claim delegates from Michigan and Florida in her column, that would be a final deal-breaker for me, in the sense of my being unable to tolerate her as the eventual nominee at all. I understand that little back-room deals are already being made for superdelegates, as well as various other shenangians. That’s one thing, it happens, that’s politics. This is something else: going back on a very clear agreement about rules in unscrupulous pursuit of personal political advantage, very much to the detriment of the system as a whole. We’ve had enough of that for the last eight years, I think.