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Nina Totenberg

Did Elian beat Gore?

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Daniel Schorr   ©NPR: Daniel Schorr

Daniel Schorr

Senior News Analyst
Weekend Edition-Saturday

I really admire and respect this guy. Despite his 84 years (born August 31, 1916), he is still very much alive and kicking as Senior News Analyst for NPR, with frequent appearances on Weekend Edition Saturday. His energy, zeal, and sometimes his opinions too, remind me of a 12-year old Sandinista. If you ever are going to meet him, just ask him about Nixon's enemies list — Schorr ranked 17th — and you'll have a very lively discussion on your hand.

Often critical of US governments, in particular, when Republicans are in the White House, however, you will not get much sympathy from him for resisting the Clinton's administration's attempts to send Elian back to communist Cuba. After all, the "Cuban problem" will resolve itself with Fidel Castro's death and the real villain of the story is, of course, the family in Miami, not the regime in Havanna.

Elian Gonzales   ©AP: Hostage Elian enjoying himself

The video in which Elian repeatedly says that he doesn't want to go back with his father to Cuba reminds Schorr of videos taken by hostage takers [WESat 5/15/00]. Never mind that the boy was not kidnapped — the INS itself released Elian into the custody of his great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez — and that there were no threats or demands for ransom accompanying the video. Last week in Miami, Elian was still enjoying the freedom that his mother had died for, but not for much longer, at least, if Daniel Schorr has his way.


Nina Totenberg

An update

Did Elian Beat Gore?

On December 13, 2000, the day after the Supreme Court stopped the Florida vote count, Daniel Schorr surprised many NPR listeners by calling the court decision a "judicial coup" perpetrated by "the Gang of Five" — one wonders what Schorr would have said if tanks had been rolling down Pennsylvania avenue.

Whether or not a hand count of Florida ballots would have produced a different result, the constitution frowns on changing the rules after the game. Election boards in four democratically governed counties decided before the election — for better or worse — on a particular ballot design and method of counting the votes. Changing the process after the election in order to achieve a more desirable outcome is plainly wrong, complaining about it is pointless.

Unwittingly, the Democrats and liberal supporters embarked on a journey that eventually might lead to the destruction of our democracy: not accepting the outcome of an election. A frequent observer of elections in Third World countries, former President Carter made a fool of himself by proclaiming that he would not have certified the outcome of the Florida vote count.

Stayskal cartoon

©2000 Tampa Tribune: Click here for the complete cartoon

Lost in all of this is the crucial role that Elian played in the 2000 Presidential election. Upset with the Clinton administration's handling of the affair, more Cuban exiles than ever went to the ballot boxes and stuffed them with Republican votes. Had the Cuban turnout just been a tad lower, Al Gore would have won Florida and, thereby, the presidency. Thanks, Elian!


Revised 4/21/07