The incoming top editor of "Newsweek" magazine, Jon Meacham, cast aspersions on the legitimacy of President Bush on the same "Imus in the Morning" broadcast I referenced earlier. Meacham conjured up memories of the 2000 election, asserting that "Al Gore was elected by the American people, but not allowed to serve." Additionally, Meacham gave credence to the left wing blogosphere and claimed that it has been since 1988 since a candidate for president has won a clear majority of the popular vote without "any questions about the count in a presidential election."
President Bush won almost 51% of the vote in 2004, a clear majority. However, this is dismissed by Meacham, most probably because of "questions" of the vote count in Ohio. President Bush won the state of Ohio by 118,601 votes. First of all, it is highly unlikely that any "questions" about the vote would be enough to overturn that type of margin. Secondly, where did these "questions" come from? From the left wing blogosphere, people who would not have accepted a Bush victory by any margin and would have tried to delegitimize the vote regardless.
Meacham then proceeded to declare Al Gore the winner of the 2000 election:
"...you know there’s Al Gore, who by all accounts, you know he certainly won the popular vote and his whole life had been directed toward that. So he was elected by the American people but not allowed to serve because of various things."
Meacham’s seems to be attempting to cast doubt on the legitimacy of President Bush. But what would motivate him to do such a thing? Meacham’s own words may very well answer this question:
"Unfortunately, he (Bill Clinton), his appetites intersected with that Republican obsession, and it was that, a Republican obsession to bring him down because they never thought he had really been a legitimate President from ‘92 forward."
So the Republicans were "obsessed" with bringing down Clinton? Aren’t the Democrats obsessed about bringing down President Bush? Mr. Imus inquired as to why the Republicans didn’t view President Clinton as a legitimate leader, to which Meacham replied:
"Because he didn’t win a majority. They felt that Ross Perot had beaten Bush Senior. Uh, he only got, I think, 43% in ‘92."
So, since Clinton didn’t win a majority of the popular vote in either 1992 or 1996, it seems Meacham can’t stand the fact that President Bush did just that in 2004, and must therefore cast aspersions on the legitimacy of the count. This would be fine if Meacham were simply a leftist blogger, but it is out of line for someone in the position Meacham occupies.
A transcript of the exchange between Meacham and Imus follows:
Don Imus: "If uh, if Clinton hadn’t been wagging the fat girl, or whatever it was they were doing, he probably would have pursued that, wouldn’t he?"
Jon Meacham: "I remember very clearly how we all reacted to that. It was, you know, as you say wagging the dog, it was the great Barry Levinson movie. And, actually, in the, when Lewinsky, when that story first broke, I called Barry Levinson who made the movie and asked him to write a little piece, just so I could put the headline in the magazine, ‘Hey We Were Just Kidding.’ So, it was a case where the world was a lot like art, and again, there you have Clinton, incredibly talented politician, greatest, you know, Democratic politician since Johnson, could have been a great, great man who was brought down by his appetites and his personal vices were in some ways his political virtues because he was charming; he was seductive; he was a larger than life figure. Unfortunately, he, his appetites intersected with that Republican obsession, and it was that, a Republican obsession to bring him down because they never thought he had really been a legitimate President from ‘92 forward."
Don Imus: "Uh, why?"
Jon Meacham: "Because he didn’t win a majority. They felt that Ross Perot had beaten Bush Senior. Uh, he only got, I think, 43% in ‘92, and he never got, actually, one of my favorite trivia facts of the moment, we have not had a fully majority president without any questions about the count in a presidential election since Bush 41 in 1988. It’s been 20 years since we’ve had a president who has clearly been a majority choice."
Don Imus: "It must bother Clinton too, the whole, because he knows why he couldn’t do what he, you know-"
Jon Meacham: "Oh I absolutely, or, I mean, he is a master of denial. So, whatever’s going on in there, in that head, is a fascinating drama. I wonder sometimes, the two people I really do think about sometimes, and when they wake up in the middle of the night, you know there’s Al Gore, who by all accounts, you know he certainly won the popular vote and his whole life had been directed toward that. So he was elected by the American people but not allowed to serve because of various things. And Bill Clinton who, I just wonder, does he connect his personal behavior to his political record. I have a feeling he probably doesn’t because I just don’t think he’s that self reflective, though he’s very self involved."