Thursday, February 19, 2009

Earth to Coleman: You Lost

How much longer is this Minnesota Senate election going to be contested? We've had a full scale ballot-by-ballot recount (and let's keep in mind Minnesota has probably the best established mechanisms for recounts in the nation) and we're in to week 4 of a Court case further challenging the recount, with no end in sight. Democrat Al Franken remains ahead by 225 votes (an unbelievably small margin), but the challenges to his certification seem to be unending.

Yes, it was an incredibly close election. But at some point former Senator Norm Coleman needs to realize that he's probably doing himself, his party, and certainly the people of Minnesota a disservice by prolonging this agony.

It has been more than 100 days since the election and Minnesota is being greatly under served by only having half it's Senatorial delegation at work. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota's other Senator, has been overwhelmed with constituent requests on every topic from Social Security, to veterans benefits, and beyond. Also, in a Senate so closely divided (Democrats are currently 2 votes shy of a filibuster proof majority) this one vote difference does have a measurable impact. The recent hubbub over the stimulus package, in which 3 Republican Senators essentially controlled the entire process, is a perfect illustration of how every Senator is important.

But beyond the representative and philosophical arguments, this is just really looking bad for the Coleman camp and Republican Party. Can you imagine if a Democrat had ended up with just a few less votes than the Republican in a major election and not only demanded a prolonged recount but then took the results to court when they didn't like the result? Oh wait, a Democrat did come up short in a major election recently and the Republican filed to have the recount stopped. Instead of putting the nation through more agony, then-Vice President Gore conceded, despite all the major questions and issues raised by the inconsistent electoral process.

My point here is not to re-hash the 2000 election or even paint a purely (though I admit, I do paint a somewhat) partisan picture. However, it is almost impossible for me to imagine a case in which Coleman was 225 votes ahead and Franken would have taken the issue this far past election day. The Republicans would cry foul and scream and rant that Franken was simply a sore loser and was trying to hijack the election.

It's even more suspect that on election night Coleman insisted he was the winner and there was no need for a recount (for the record the margin was so close that it triggered an automatic recount under state law). Franken insisted that he would only stay in until every legitimate vote was counted. During the recount Coleman routinely tried to supress previously rejected ballots from being counted. Now that he's behind in the vote totals, Coleman has reversed his position and his main arguments before the Minnesota Supreme Court have been that more ballots (curiously all from Coleman-leaning counties) should be included in the totals.

Clearly I hope that this all ends with a Franken victory, as I have all along - I don't deny that. And there are two sides to every coin, and there are bound to be slight inconsistancies in any politician's stance on an issue. But the overt double standard that is being applied here and Coleman's unabashed flip flopping is beginning to be embarassing for him and his party. At this point I'd say he has a better chance of letting it go and coming back next round. It's not like Franken can claim a real mandate here. Bowing out, saving what's left of his integrity, and running in a few years makes the most sense.

Give it up, Norm.

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