Thursday, March 04, 2004

Sudden Death Overtime
There simply must be a tipping point somewhere at which the Bush Administration can bullshit the public no longer, and at which they must stand exposed as the hypocritical, say-anything, do-anything pack of thugs we've long suspected them to be. I hope we've seen it today, with the instantaneous and overwhelmingly negative response to Bush's first round of campaign ads, which use images of New York firefighters and Ground Zero to shill for his reelection. If these ads don't disappear nearly as quickly as they've appeared, we may have either A) overestimated the possibility of a tipping point or B) underestimated the utter shamelessness and amorality of Rove and Company. Either one is a grim possibility.

Recommended reading: If you'd like to engage in a hair-raising speculation that makes the 2000 election controversy seem tame, click on over to Daily Kos to explore what could happen if Bush and Kerry tie in the Electoral College. We know that the presidential election would go to the House of Representatives, with each state having one vote. Kos notes that it's possible that not every delegation would vote along straight party lines--some may choose to vote as their citizens did in the popular vote. Therefore, a Bush victory is not necessarily assured, even if Republicans control a majority of state delegations, as they do now.

I have less faith than Kos in the independence of House members, especially Republicans. Any Republican refusing to vote Bush would likely have to answer to Tom DeLay, and his/her career would be over. DeLay's disdain for democracy is no secret, and there's no reason to think the extraordinary circumstance of a deadlocked presidential election would make a statesman of him. Keep in mind that it would be the newly-elected House doing the voting, which would be sworn in on January 3, 2005. Thus the scenario is a good argument for Democrats to fight as hard as possible to gain control of as many delegations as possible in November 2004--even though it's a longshot.

But check this out--in the case of an Electoral College tie, the Senate chooses the vice-president, and senators could vote for anybody they want, not just the running mates of the tied presidential candidates. And what if the Senate were to tie 50-50 over a VP choice? As president of the Senate, Dick Cheney would cast the tie-breaking vote, and it could be for himself. And if the House eventually chose Kerry, you'd have a Democrat president and Republican VP, which is completely legal under the Constitution and current laws.

Cheney would cast the tie-breaking vote for VP as long as he wasn't already president by then. If for some reason, the House couldn't resolve the presidential tie by January 20, 2005, Inauguration Day, the sitting VP would become president until the House sorted it out. At that point, the president pro-tem of the Senate would become presiding officer, presumably. That's Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska, who got the gig when Strom Thurmond went down for his dirt nap. (Imagine ol' Strom presiding at such a historic moment.)

Two words about the whole scenario: That's entertainment.

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