Krugman's Big Lie

Paul Krugman, the former Enron advisor, New York Times op ed columnist, and presumably in his spare time, 'educator' at Princeton, has made a habit of distortion, and half truths in his twice—weekly columns in the 'paper of record.'  Several website have sprung up to deconstruct each Krugman column,and others respond to specific errors, which are routine.  But Krugman's column on Friday, August 19 marks a remarkable descent into outright dishonesty, a new low. What is most astounding is that the dishonesty involves Krugman's deliberately mistaken interpretration of a study in which his own paper, the New York Times, was a participant, and from which the Times ' reporters drew entirely different conclusions from those which Krugman trumpeted in his article.

Krugman's dishonesty involves the results of the Florida vote in the Presidential election in 2000.  In his column titled: 'What They Did Last Fall', Krugman says the following about the 2000 race:

'Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore'.

Quite simply, his statement is false. It is a lie.

Both major consortiums undertook to count all the disputed votes (the so—called 'undercount') in a variety of ways. This was because different counties had used different methods for counting or not counting hanging chads, or partially punched ballots during the Florida recount. The consortium wanted to see if using one methodology as opposed to another would have produced a different result. So they tested a liberal counting of all partially punched ballots statewide. They considered a tougher standard requiring ballots to be completely punched through to be counted. They considered standards in between these two. The heterogeneity in the post election counting methodologies used by different county officials, was the major reason the Supreme Court by a 7 to 2 majority vote (including votes by liberal justices Souter and Breyer) concluded that the process as established by the Florida Supreme Court (which provided no systematic methodology to be used in the statewide recount of the undervote) was badly flawed and broken, and  would result  in a denial of the equal protection of the law to voters in different counties in Florida. 

When the two newspaper consortia concluded their surveys, their conclusions were identical: by almost every method selected to count the undervote, had all the ballots been counted statewide, Bush would have won, and not Gore. There were a few methodologies that would have produced a very narrow Gore victory, but the great majority of the different approaches produced a Bush win. 

If the methodology that Gore advocates had pushed on the Florida Supreme Court been adopted, it would have resulted in a Bush victory. In no case, can one make the assertion that Krugman does, that the consortia simply concluded Gore would have won,  absent a deliberate attempt to distort the results of the studies undertaken by the newspaper consortia.

If one goes back to the headlines in the newspapers that participated in the consortium studies, they all indicated that Bush would have won under almost all the counting methodologies.  In light of this, the statement by Krugman

'that a full manual recount would have given the election to Gore'

is false. It is in fact a deliberate lie by a  propagandist for the left, an individual not remotely concerned with truth, regardless of what his newspaper employer or university employer might hold out as a standard of behavior.

To read the Krugman column, one might think that there is a pattern in close elections, namely that Republicans steal them. Not surprisingly,  Krugman does not mention the results in the New Mexico Presidential race in 2000,when Bush led the recount, until one county suddenly reversed their count to change the outcome. He also makes no mention of Wisconsin, where in two consecutive elections, Democratic campaign workers  have been fingered for criminal behavior, including slashing the tires of GOP buses and vans intended to get voters to the polls  on Election Day. Krugman likes to calls this sort of thing voter suppression —  if aimed at African American voters.

As a result of same day voter registration in Wisconsin without the need for picture IDs, the state's Electoral College votes might have been stolen from Bush in two consecutive elections, given the very narrow margins in the official count in the state  (Gore won by 5,000, and then Kerry by 10,000, out of well over 2 million votes cast in each cycle). And of course, Krugman does not mention Washington State, where Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire owes her election victory by 129 votes to a process by which King County officials (Democrats of course) continued to find more and more previously disqualified or uncounted (and unsecured) ballots until finally on the third statewide count, she took the lead, at which point the King County officials rested.

Nor does Krugman recall South Dakota, where Democratic lawyers in 2002 filled in absentee ballots for Native Americans on reservations and for nursing home residents enabling Senator Tim Johnson to win re—election by 500 votes. In fact, 2000 in Florida is the exception to the rule— that most close election results the last few years have been decided for the Democrats. 

Krugman implies that Ohio was stolen in 2004, giving Bush his victory under the same clouded circumstances that enabled him to win in 2000.  No analysis of the Ohio vote has concluded that Ohio was stolen, or that any oddities in the results that day denied victory to Kerry in the state. John Kerry, to his credit, conceded the morning after the election.  Far left Michigan Congressman John Conyers has pursued a  campaign charging theft in Ohio ever since, but has produced no evidence that Bush's 119,000 vote margin in the state would not have withstood any challenges. Lines were longer in some Democratic precincts than in some Republican precincts. in the state. And it rained hard that day (presumably after some strategically located cloud seeding by Karl Rove's agents), and not all voters could find room indoors at polling stations to stay dry while they waited to vote.   

These factors, to Krugman, are evidence of suppression of the vote. The fact that each Ohio polling place had equal numbers of GOP and Democratic poll watchers in 2004 and that the alleged problems with long waits to vote occurred in counties or cities in which Democratic officials controlled the pre—vote process (perhaps they screwed things up for their preferred candidate by requesting fewer voting machines  than they needed), escapes Krugman. For the Princeton professor, this is all part of an illegal attempt to maintain power by a group that sprang a coup d'etat in 2000 to first get elected.

When one is consumed by an irrational hatred, one's critical faculties and discipline can be lost. How else to explain churning out column after column full of half truths, and outright distortions. When New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent left his position at the paper, he lashed out at Krugman's basic dishonesty. At least for Okrent, opinion pieces need to be grounded in fact.

Over a year ago, as the 2004 Presidential race was heating up, I wrote a lengthy article on the 2000 Florida election controversy .  My conclusion was that if everybody who showed up to vote had filled out their ballots as they intended, it is certainly possible that Gore would have won. But when you vote for Pat Buchanan, and not Al Gore in Palm Beach County, perhaps as a result of a ballot that might have been confusing (but was designed by a Democratic county official to make it easier for older residents to navigate), your vote will not and should not be counted for Al Gore.  When you fill out a ballot and punch out two candidates for President and not one, your intention no longer matters. You will not and should not have your vote counted for Al Gore (or anybody else).

There are plenty of suspicions from both sides to go around about the 2000 race in Florida.  This includes suspicions that some Democratic Party officials  helped Al Gore in Palm Beach County and perhaps elsewhere, by conspiring to nullify votes that had been cast for Bush. The accusation is that before some of the ballots were delivered to county officials for the official recount, Democratic partisans quickly punched through Gore's box on some of the ballots. If a ballot had been cast for Bush, this would disqualify that ballot vote with its two punches. If the vote had been for Gore , this would just have insured that the ballot was fully punched through for Gore. The number of double votes in Palm Beach county that contained both Gore and Bush is quite high by comparison to other counties.  That mistake, if accidental, would not have occurred because of confusion about distinguishing the Gore box from the Buchanan box on the famous butterfly ballot.

Krugman, in his latest screed, recommends a book by a reporter for a British paper that concludes that Al Gore won in 2000. Krugman doesn't mention John Fund's recent book on stolen elections that more broadly considers our election problems, with less presumptuousness about the results of any specific closely contested race. Undoubtedly, there is evidence of vote fraud in some locales, and possibly vote suppression in others.  Someone who wanted to clean up the system would look for ways of ensuring that qualified voters got to vote, and voters who had no right to vote, did not. But that is not what interests Krugman. His goal is simply to win, and to delegitimize Republicans when they win, which has been happening more often of late, much to his dismay.

Krugman charges that in Florida in 2000, the state's Republican Party apparatus denied the right to vote to some citizens by falsely accusing them of being felons (in Florida, felons are not allowed to vote).  Careful studies of the Florida vote have suggested that the bigger problem that year was that all felons were not properly identified, and some wound up voting, rather than legitimate potential voters having their franchise denied by being falsely labeled as felons. 

For Krugman and the left, expanding access is the goal, so that they want the votes of illegal aliens and non—citizens, dead people, and unregistered voters, or voters casting multiple votes,  as well as absentee votes of nursing home residents or American Indians cast by campaign workers. These are are all perfectly OK. A problem here or there should be nobody's concern, if ballot access is expanded. These 'votes' after all, tend to be heavily Democratic, which makes them sacred. 

It is to be expected that when the presidency is decided by 537 votes, that the losing side is bitter, and will contend that the election was stolen from them. The Gore people took to the courts in every way imaginable to overturn the Florida result. Despite consistent defeats in the courts at the county or lower court level, they found a friend in the Florida Supreme Court, a highly partisan group, containing all but one member appointed by former Democrat governors.  The Florida Supreme Court overruled lower courts twice — each time pushing more recounts, with a goal, presumably of keeping the race alive until Gore finally pulled ahead. The sad fact for Gore partisans, like Krugman, is that Gore never led in Florida. Not on election night, not after the first machine recount, not after any County recounts of the undervote, not after military votes were added, and not even at the time the full haphazard statewide recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court was  suspended.

The leftist clique that still cries about the stolen election of 2000 thinks that America had to move on quickly after the Clinton sex scandals (censure, not impeach). But they have not  followed their own advice on how to deal with that controversy when it comes to the the Florida vote in 2000.

The best evidence we have is that Bush won Florida narrowly in 2000, very narrowly of course.  But this is simply unacceptable to Bush haters. They can not let go. Much of the poisonous nature of the subsequent anti Bush rhetoric the last five years stems from the left's belief in the illegitimacy of his Presidency due to the 2000 race. Krugman is exhibit one for this failure to move on.  

You win some and you lose some in politics. But when your leading pundits and voices are losers like Krugman, your party is not likely to make it to the promised land anytime soon.

Richard Baehr is The American Thinker's chief political correspondent.


Mickey Kaus has argued that if one includes the overvote (double votes or a vote with additional marking that reviewers for the newspaper consortia believed indicated a preference for one candidate or the other), that Gore would have won in some scenarios. Hence, he says  Krugman is technically correct, to have argued that with 'a full manual recount' Gore would have won according to the two consortium surveys.

I beg to differ. The consortia believed they were carrying out a full manual recount under every scenario they tested. Full to the Florida Supreme Court meant all the counties, not just the four counties Gore requested for manual recounts: Volusia, Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. The Florida Supreme Court had ordered a full manual recount of the undervote only. If Judge Lewis, the Court's agent, had considered and then accepted overvotes as well as undervotes, as Kaus suggests was possible, this would undoubtedly have led to another challenge taken to the Florida Supreme Court if the statewide result were different with undervotes only (what had been ordered), than with undervotes and overvotes both counted. The Florida Supreme Court decision to order a statewide recount of all undervotes had been a 4 to 3 decision. If that recount had shown Bush won, but Gore winning with overvotes included (which they had not ordered), it is not certain they would have ruled for Gore this time around.

In any case, since a full statewide manual recount was done in every scenario undertaken by the two consortia, the only thing that differed among the scenarios were the rules for counting disputed ballots. In some scenarios, a loose standard was used for the undervote.  In others, a tough standard was used. In those scenarios considering only the undervote, the standard was to reject  all the overvotes.  The loosest standards of all were those that considered the overvote and also applied a loose standard in counting the undervote. In a few of these scenarios Gore won. But in most of the scenarios tested (with and without the overvote) Bush won . So Krugman is wrong, and worse, being deliberately misleading to simply say Gore won with a full recount. 

Kaus is too decent, I think, trying to salvage Krugman's conclusion on semantic grounds. As pointed out above, I think even by gaming the meaning of full recount, Krugman fails. 

It is also not at all clear that even had Gore won a recount including overvotes, that he would have then been elected president.  As mentioned above, if the final state vote had included the overvote, and the result were different than with just the undervote considered (as might have happened), there would have been one more appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.  By the time that process was concluded, Florida might not have been able to select electors by the last date for doing so. The Florida legislature, Republican dominated, was ready to step in and select the Bush electors, disgusted as they were with the shenanigans of the Florida Supreme Court (continually changing the state's rules to keep the count going, presumably until Gore took the lead).  Assuming the legislature and or the Florida Supreme Court failed to pick a slate of Electors in time, then no candidate would have had a majority of Electoral College votes at the time the Congress convened to count the Electoral College votes. By the rules established by the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution, the US House would have then elected Bush President, voting by state delegation, one vote per state, since Republicans held a majority of state delegations. Oddly enough, the US Senate would have likely elected Joe Lieberman Vice President, since the Senate gets to select the Vice President if no candidate for Vice President has achieved a majority of the Electoral College votes.  After the 2000 elections, the Senate was split 50—50, and Al Gore, as sitting Vice President could have cast the deciding vote for Lieberman!

But things could have gotten even more heated (and ugly), had the Florida Supreme Court in the end selected the Gore electors. The US House might have rejected this slate, instead counting the alternate Bush electors selected by the Florida legislature. Imagine if al Qaeda had struck the US during this interregnum, just 8 or 9 months earlier than they did?  Would President Clinton have declared martial law, suspended the Constitution and continued as President?

In restrospect, the US Supreme Court did the country a big favor by making the decision they did, when they did. Their 7 to 2 vote throwing out the Florida Supreme Court recount scheme was a good and necessary decision. The Florida Supreme Court had never laid out any consistent standard by which to determine which undervotes should be accepted. Different standards had been used in different counties, effectively denying the equal protection of the law to all residents of the state.  The Court's appointed administrator was already going far afield from the Court's instructions, and was considering a count of overvotes.  Even liberal Justices Breyer and Souter could spot this turkey.