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The Right Wing Freak-Out Over Franken Begins

by Jeff Fecke on December 23, 2008 · 2 comments

With the prospect of Senator Al Franken looking more likely, the usual suspects are beginning to freak out.

The right-wing propagandists at NewsMax have issued a very! important! email! to their followers, declaring that Franken is “scary” and “unethical,” and in an unsurprising twist to those of us who are left-of-center, Soros-controlled:

“When Election Day came and went last November, Norm Colemanled Franken by almost a 1000 votes,” says the NewsMax email, which is true, if “750” is “almost a thousand.”

“But then,” NewsMax says, “Franken and his liberal allies counter-attacked.”

How did he counterattack? By going to the God-Head. “Franken traveled to New York where billionaire George Soros threw a fundraiser for Franken helping him to raise millions for his legal fight. Franken has used Soros money to wage a fierce legal fight.”
Now, if you’ve been paying attention to the recount, you know that there’s been a common theme to the “fierce legal fight” surrounding it: the fight has been dictated by Norm Coleman. It was Coleman who filed suit about the mythical “trunk ballots,” Coleman who filed suit to prevent counting of the absentee ballots, and Tuesday, Coleman will go to court to try to block ballots the campaign says were double-counted. Franken’s fierce legal fighting has mostly involved having lawyers show up to argue his side in these lawsuits, which is awful, I guess.

NewsMax says that Franken “demanded that ‘rejected’ ballots – ballots that local election boards in Minnesota ruled were in error and should not be counted – be considered legitimate for the vote,” which again is true, except that the ballots were rejected in error, as even the Coleman campaign concedes. And NewsMax says that shockingly, “Franken then got the Minnesota Supreme Court, in a 3 to 2 decision, to agree with him.”

This is, of course, true. When Norm Coleman sued to get these ballots blocked, three members of the Supreme Court agreed with him. Of course, two of those three were Tim Pawlenty appointees, and the other Republican on the court — Paul Anderson — issued a dissent in which he said the majority didn’t go far enough in allowing the ballots to count. And of course this was in response to a unanimous vote of the State Canvassing Board, which includes two other Pawlenty appointees including Pawlenty’s former law partner. But this does not undermine NewsMax’s point; indeed, it is central to it.

And of course, let’s not forget about Mark Ritchie, the evil Secretary of State. Did you know that “Ritchie was backed for election to his post by groups supported by Soros”? Wheels within wheels, man. Wheels within wheels.

NewsMax closes with the claim that “the Wall Street Journal has noted that it is simply statistically impossible for all of the questionable ballots falling so much in favor of Franken – when the race was so close to begin with.” That discovery came from noted sock-puppeteer and liar John Lott, who did indeed write such an article, and who has continued his argument of late by cherry-picking data to fit his own preconceptions.

Which is, of course, what NewsMax and the right is doing. They bring up the usual bogeymen — ACORN shows up, as does Ritchie over and over — to cast doubt on Minnesota’s electoral process. And if you’re not familiar with the process, you might get hoodwinked.

The fact is that Minnesota’s electoral system has been tested here, and it’s passed. The Canvassing Board operated fairly and in as open a manner as can be imagined. The Supreme Court’s ruling on the absentee ballots was not perfectly to either side’s liking — but that’s probably a sign that it wasn’t a bad one. The duplicate ballot issue and the missing ballots in Minneapolis are both the sort of vexing mistakes that will happen in a system run by humans — that is, they’re mistakes — but everyone seems to be handling them in an honest, above-board manner, and the rule of law has held so far. In short, the system works as well as it can in a race that will be decided by less than one vote per county.

It’s still possible the lead could swing back to Norm Coleman, and if it does, I’ll say the exact same thing — that the system worked. But the right doesn’t want to admit that. Maybe it’s because they actually have stolen an election in the past decade, and they think we’re out to do the same, but the right wing intends to tear down Al Franken any way they can, and to do it they’re going to attack Minnesota’s electoral system, a system that has been fair, above-board, and yes, bipartisan in its operation.

It’s a shame. Because the way the system has worked could have been a point of pride for Minnesotans. As Justice Paul Anderson — a Republican appointee — said last week, we’re not Florida. And I’m kind of sick of the right trying to claim we are.

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