the election was so close anyway that it might as well have been Bush. He treats the fact that five of the nine Supreme Court justices are political conservatives as, in effect, a tie-breaker like a coin flip. But it will make a very great difference to people everywhere that it is Bush rather than Gore who is America's president. Bush's cabinet appointments (which include, as attorney general, John Ashcroft, the candidate of the religious right) have already refuted the optimistic assumption that he will try to govern from the middle, and there is ample reason to worry that his future Supreme Court appointments will be equally aimed at pleasing the extreme right of his party.
When a presidential election is close, particularly when so much turns on the outcome, it is more and not less important that the rules in place be followed punctiliously in deciding who actually won. If Gore has won not only the national popular vote but also the popular vote in Florida, and hence the Electoral College as well, then it is not only unfortunate that we will be governed by Bush's policies and constituencies but unfair. Florida's vote-counting machines, many of which are conceded to be inaccurate, particularly in counties with a high proportion of minority and poor voters, declared 3 percent of the state's ballots nonvotes. (The average in the rest of the country was 2 percent.) Fried insists that it is beyond “our present capacity” to achieve a more accurate tabulation. But the careful unofficial recounts now being conducted separately by the Miami Herald and by a group of other prestigious newspapers, which Fried declares a foolish exercise, will presumably show that his surprising pessimism is unfounded.