Maer Roshan: This morning, as ballot counters were accusing each other of swallowing chads, the Supreme Court stoked the furor by ruling hand counts could continue. How ugly will it get?
Ed Koch: It might get a lot uglier. Watching James Baker's response on CNN, I really felt a chill. As he voiced his contempt for the court I felt that he was capable of a coup d'état. If it happens, I'm gonna go to Tallahassee, stand in the streets, and defend the judges from arrest.
Al D'Amato: Look, Ed, the way the Gore people are carrying on, the only thing we need to defend the judges from is fatigue! It's obvious that the Gore team only want to count the votes that favor them. They haven't even resolved the issue of the military ballots, which the Democrats are still refusing to count. Everyone agrees they should be counted, and the refusal of the Gore campaign to give in demonstrates how desperate they are. To deprive military men and women of their vote because of a technicality is horrendous.
Ed: I agree. Of course the military ballots should be counted, and I'd like to find the Democrat who tried to reject them and flay him. It's a public-relations nightmare! How stupid could they be?
M.R.: Where do you think this is all headed?
Al: The whole mess may end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, though there's a good possibility it will wind up in the Florida Legislature. If that happens, the Republican majority will almost certainly throw the election to Bush.
Ed: Well, Al, if it does happen -- if the Republican Legislature basically steals the election -- there will be a major crisis. People won't stand for it. It's Fascist!
M.R.: I think we'd better be careful using that word around Senator D'Amato.
Al: Laughs. That's a little melodramatic, Ed. It's not Fascism. But awful things will happen if this continues for long. When people believe something's unfair, they get angry and distrustful of the whole system. And whoever is elected will enter office too tainted to govern.
M.R.: Aren't both of them pretty tainted already?
Al: Well, they certainly aren't doing themselves any favors. I'm getting a little tired of how Al Gore keeps saying how he's not really interested in the outcome but "just wants to ensure the democratic process." Nonsense. The whole thing could have been avoided if Florida had standards in place to determine how these ballots should be counted. Given that Florida has no standards, the only reasonable standard is penetration!
Ed: Looks quizzical. Penetration?
Al: The ballot, Ed. To count, the ballot should be fully punched in. Forget pregnant chads and dimpled ballots. Full penetration! It reminds me of the old standard for proving adultery. Back in the fifties, to convict a couple of adultery you didn't have to prove actual penetration. All you had to prove was opportunity, intent, and inclination. Were they in the motel together? What were they doing in the motel? The Democrats want to apply the same standard to the election. They think they can divine opportunity, intent, and inclination by staring at a chad.
M.R.: The Florida justices seem to agree, even chastising Katherine Harris for allowing partisan concerns to overshadow her duties.
Al: Well, the Florida court isn't exactly free of partisanship either. Harris did exactly what was right -- no more, no less. Any Democrat would have done the same.
Ed: I think she behaved very badly. She comes off like this South Florida version of Leona Helmsley. Except she wears a lot more makeup. Laughs. And she ended up destroying her career.
M.R.: What about Gore's career? A while back you predicted that if he did get defeated, Gore would become almost a shadow president by virtue of having won the popular vote. Has he lost his edge now that the process has dragged on for so long?
Al: Whoever wins has a lot going against him. He will be entering office badly damaged. I think that's not irreversible, though. It just means that in his policies, his statements, his cabinet, the new president must compromise.
M.R.: Speaking of the cabinet, the latest rumor making the rounds is that Bush may tap Rudy to be attorney general.
Ed: If that rumor is spreading, it's because Rudy's spreading it. Laughs. I find it highly unlikely. It's true the mayor's major claim to fame is law enforcement. But you know, he isn't exactly a team player. For Bush to take Rudy into his cabinet would be like taking a tarantula to bed.