So much ink has been spilled over election 2000 that we are loath, at this late date, to add to the ocean. As we noted last month, writing a mere week or so after the November 7 election, the Gore team’s insistence on pushing the election into the courts by challenging the results of the mandatory recount in Florida set an ominous precedent. This was an issue that Chief Justice Wells summed up perfectly in his dissent from the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a lower court and order a manual recount of “undervotes” throughout the state. “[W]e run a great risk,” he wrote, “that every election will result in judicial testing. Judicial restraint in respect to elections is absolutely necessary because the health of our democracy depends on elections being decided by voters—not by judges.” We must all be grateful, no matter which candidate we supported, that the U.S. Supreme Court finally put an end to the madness of judicial activism in Florida.
We need be less grateful for some of the snide commentary on the election by various foreign observers. Let us leave to one side the expostulations of totalitarian henchmen like Fidel Castro, who gleefully seized on the protracted U.S. election as an opportunity to lecture us about the nature of democracy. More troubling were the comments of the French prime minister Lionel Jospin who, among other things, questioned the legitimacy of George W. Bush’s victory and sniffed that he hoped that Americans would “draw the lessons in time for the next election.” As Mark Steyn asked in the London Daily Telegraph: “What lessons would those be, Mr. Jospin? Scrap the Electoral College? Move to direct presidential election? Tear up the Constitution and rewrite it every generation, as the French do? Where are you up to now? Fifth Republic? Sixth Republic? Geez, get me a Gore lawyer: I need a manual recount of French constitutions.” Jospin’s remarks are only the latest blossom in the widespread new flowering of that hardy perennial, French anti-Americanism. Indeed, anti-Americanism was an unspoken theme at the recent French-led European Union convocation in Nice just as it stands behind the French demand for the creation of European-wide “rapid reaction” military force separate from NATO. Of course, the French do not propose paying for this new European army—they want the Germans to shoulder the lion’s share of that burden. To what end? An enhancement of French gloire, primarily. We all knew that “bureaucracy” was a French word; it is useful to be reminded that “chauvinism” is as well.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 19 Number 5, on page 3
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