Obama’s May 20 Bash: A Cynical Replay of Election Night 2000 (with update)

Think not??

I’ll take you back to that fateful night in a moment.

But first, listen to strategist David Axelrod on WCCO, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, MN the night of the May 8 Indiana and North Carolina primaries. (The video is the top left “thumbnail” located just above the video player in the event the current news plays rather than the Axelrod video; you will also have to endure a short Coldstone Creamery ad).


He talks about the “inside baseball” of the delegate situation, then pins Clinton with the upcoming “train wreck” which will happen if she stays in the race until the upcoming Rules Committee meeting. Then he gets on his high horse and indignantly proclaims that “the IDEA of Hillary Clinton contesting the validity of Obama’s DECLARATION as the nominee of the Democratic Party is really a near nightmare and for Obama it’s is just a thorn in his side” at a point where he should be focusing McCain. (This after admitting that neither candidate has the delegates to win outright (but he as the “majority” of them, Axelrod rationalizes) and that Obama himself hasn’t sealed the deal because of his own primary loses. The whole situation is really a great inconvenience and indignity being put in Obama’s way. Horrors if voters in the remaining states are allowed to actually express their preferences!

Now, let’s go back to Election Night 2000. This should refresh your memory:

Bush Cousin Calls Presidential Election

by Michael I. Niman
Special to Buffalo Beat (December 14th, 2000) – AlterNet Syndication (December 14th, 2000)

The US presidential election was a celebration of the triumph of media over matter.

To an objective observer, two facts are clear: Gore won the nationwide popular vote, and according to a recent Miami Herald analysis, he was also in all likelihood the favorite of Florida voters as well.

George W. Bush’s claim to victory initially had a shaky basis in objective reality. The Florida race, or even the national race, was a statistical dead heat — a tie. There was no clear winner. Factor in the bizarre antiquated 19th century vote tabulating technology used in much of the US and the wide margin of error inherent with these machines, and the difficulty of determining a winner was clear.

For most Americans, and for much of the global television audience, however, Bush was always either the presumed “winner” or at the very least, the likely winner. Al Gore was always seen as trying to either “catch-up” to Bush, or “overturn” the Bush victory. The Bush claim to victory always had the veneer of legitimacy while the Gore claim effused a certain stench.

This perceived Bush victory, the perception that the horse race finally boiled down to one stallion breaking through the finish gate, was a network news fabrication. We saw it on TV. The networks called the election for George W. Bush, projecting him the winner — in effect declaring him the President Elect. CBS News’ Dan Rather boldly told us late on election night, “Sip it, Savor it, cup it, photostat it, underline it in red, press it in a book, put it in an album, hang it on the wall — George W. Bush is the next president of the United States.” The networks anointed a President and no recount of actual votes will ever be able to undo that coronation.

At 2:16 AM John Ellis, called the election for his first cousin, George W. Bush. Ellis, a free-lance political consultant, had been enlisted by FOX News to head their “decision desk” on Election night.

Dr. Niman continues:

By calling the election for his cousin when he did, Ellis proved instrumental in turning Bush’s loss in the popular vote into an apparently righteous struggle to gain the presidency. With a constitutional crisis looming on the horizon, pundits called for Gore, and not Bush, to be a “patriot” and concede. In a fair count, without shenanigans or election irregularities, the Miami Herald estimated Gore would have won Florida by 23,000 votes. The Bush strategy all along was to prevent a recount and run out the clock — which he succeeded in doing, eventually winning the state and the presidency by a few hundred votes. The strategy only worked because Ellis coronated him the winner.

Weeks later, Ellis’ former colleague, Bill Kovach, while defending Ellis’ integrity as a journalist, reported that Ellis had been in telephone contact with both Jeb and George W. Bush on election night prior to his making the election call. Even Kovach admitted this was improper.

It’s a clear a conflict of interest for a presidential candidate’s close and loyal first cousin, the nephew of a former U.S. President, to end up in a position to call the election for the U.S. national media?

So, now in 2008 we have Axelrod shooing away voters and starting his blitz to convince everyone that Obama is the winner with the full co-operation of the media, just like the events of Election Night 2000 which were started on FOX and then picked up by the rest of the crowd. The above video shows the first salvo in the ensuing bandwagon that has become the main message for our consumption since May 8, the night of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.

Then there is the Democratic Party itself. While not displaying a true “conflict of interest” isn’t it nonetheless throwing its weight and manipulations around in favor of one candidate, Obama? When have you ever seen a party coddle one candidate like they are now doing with “The One”?

We also see superdelegates come out every time Obama makes a mistake or loses a debate or a primary to bolster him.

Doesn’t all this manipulation seem so much like we’ve seen before, but particularly, now so blatant this time around as it was on Election NIght 2000???

And May 20 will be the culmination point of this “coronation.” In the meantime, Hillary Clinton is being pilloried as being divisive and her key voters–working-class Americans, older voters, rural voters, and women (and if you’re an OLDER woman, God help you)–are being thrown under the bus. Having a real contest where real people vote is now an anathema to the party and the media.

And what about the media? After the 2000 debacle,

The networks engaged in much public hand-wringing in the weeks that followed the elections. Anyone who remembers a rueful Dan Rather saying,”If you’re disgusted with us, frankly I don’t blame you,” or who saw network executives go to Capitol Hill to explain themselves to Congress could reasonably have assumed that steps would be taken to ensure that such a debacle would not happen again. Network executives later acknowledged that cross-checking the VNS data with the AP’s numbers would probably have prevented the incorrect call of Florida for Bush, and they promised to make certain that a single source with bad information could never again create a media-wide failure like election night 2000. (From: The American Prospect, Publication Date: 01-OCT-04: Idiot boxed: one big reason Bush won Florida? Television (prematurely) said he did. By 2001, red-faced network news honchos promised big changes for 2004. Now we’re here. And guess what?)

Well, of course, nothing changed in 2004 as Kerry was slurred with the description of being “French.” (Among other things!)

At the start of this campaign season, media voices again solemnly proclaimed that they were really going to report fairly and wouldn’t be “GOR-ing” anyone like they’d done in the past, since this was such a vital election.

But, as we can see, this time around, we’ve had Edwards ignored out of the race and Clinton showered with negativity, misogyny and very little coverage of anything positive in her campaign.

The terrible difference this time, however, is that her own party has decided to join the media in their strategy of death by a thousand cuts.

Remember this, older, working-class, women, and rural voters when the media and Obama tell you that he is VICTORIOUS on May 20. Remember that you’re really NOT on the guest list for this coronation bash…


One of the “related articles” that has popped up under my post is from Business Week, November 30, 2000.

If this doesn’t sound like deja vu all over again….imagine referring to Gore’s fight to get the votes counted as “pigheadedness.” I suppose that description applies to Clinton as well…oh, no, she’s worse! She’s divisive and not noble enough for Teddy K….And see how cowardly the Dems were and still are??? And what can you say about the media? Nothing good…

But by attenuating the election, the Vice-President is walking a fine line between perseverance and pigheadedness. The unspoken fear of some congressional Democrats is that if Gore lingers too long in the land of chad, voters will turn on them in much the same way they turned on Bill Clinton’s impeachment tormentors in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. The backlash could undermine Hill Democrats’ plans for hog-tying President Bush and gliding to big gains in the 2002 midterm elections. After all, no one wants to be branded a member of the Sore Loser Party.