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April 20, 2006

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good points.

plus, i did not know that history.

it makes sense the italians would follow a model from their own culture.

but

as i read your post,

i kept thinking about the successful activities of the bush campaign in florida in nov 2000, e.g., the brooks brothers riot your mentioned.

bush did not know if he had won or not, but,

his team was determined to cause as much confusion and doubt about the outcome as possible

and

to assert bush's "victory" sans evidence in as strong a way as possible.

the end result was that this co-ordinated effort actually allowed bush to claim the presidency

when he had not won it.

what there should have been at that time was a collective national understanding to do a thorough vote recount, but that understanding never emerged.

it may be that the italians have learned a lot from watching things play out in the u.s. in 2000.

bush's seizure of power

under the cover of a close election

may be a model for any close election

where people who want power before anything else (bush in 2000)

or

need to retain power(berlisconi or bush in 2006)

are involved.

i expect your are presciently correct with respect to november in the u.s.,

unless the democratic party and its supporters exercise extreme vigilance, pre-election,

the republican party will attempt to improperly influence as many congressional races as possible.

it's clear the party already has the mindset and organizational skills to do that, cf, new hampshire phone-jamming in 2002,

a race that was important to the republican effort ot control congress,

but was no where near as urgent to the republicans as holding onto congress will be this time.


so,


republican strategy in november:

1)dirty tricks in the campaigns and at the polls

2)foreign enemies on the horizon (iran) and maybe a few bombs in the air.

an old and successful formula in politics.

Makes Rove's move away from policy to concentrate full time on the election more clear.

The Dems had better get ready for the coming dirty tricks and electoral cheating. Fitz could do the nation a real service by tying Rove up for the summer and fall.

Good point, Mimikatz.

In that Rove post, I didn't really think much about how Rove might try to prevent the Dems from getting subpoena power. I mean, what would take that much more energy that he'd have to do it full time? But it's worth thinking about.

Further proof if proof was necessary that Berlusconi sees himself as the reincarnation of Il Duce. Also, like rock stars and others who live in a world where there is no "no," (and certain presidents of the USA) getting the bubble burst by Reality sends them into Ultimate Denial.

Also proof of the anti-democratic nature of the Right, in whatever country it exists. I really can't think of any place where the Far Right has ever willingly given up power once they stole it unless faced with overwhelming defeat.

As to further "Brooks Brothers Riots" here after November 7, perhaps it's time to clean off the shillelaghs - wading into that crowd of bozos and "laying about" would have been sooooooooooooo satisfying.

"Robert Novak said Wednesday that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald knows who outed a CIA agent to the Chicago Sun-Times columnist but hasn't acted on the information because Novak's source committed no crime."
http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-novak20.html

I have been following the wane of the Brooks Brothers rebellion, even though no longer a crime for power suited people to threaten poll canvassers as the RICO law lapses into the museum artifact gallery courts have crafted for it incrementally since its passage in 1970. Surely the Brooks Brothers demonstrators were dapper and not in seersucker suits.
There was an interesting report in 2006 about a Supreme Court Justice who gave a speech defending the Bush v. Gore decision at a university in Switzerland; the Associate Justice's retort when questioned about the decision? "Come on, get over it." Link to video reportedly; I am still looking for the transcript. He rambled on numerous topics flamboyantly.
Which brings this post to the relinquishment Berlusconi might try, so Prodi can get on with the business of forming a government. I think B simply is negotiating behind the scenes for amnesty.
Political life in Italy is chaotic, and observers have mentioned that though conservative, B is the first leader in recent memory to have completed the term to which he was elected. Women may be the best hope for Italy politics.
I found some humorous quotes about experiences in car traffic there ; kind of gives you the picture of the premises of controversy. A matter of style, Berlusconi probably would prefer a cacaphony of Ferraris sounding airhorns as a finale when he leaves. Soon.
On MimiK's observation; agreed; Rove is designing the fallback position for a lot of Repblicans. They are going to need it over the next two election cycles.

‎"But I do worry that Berlusconi's games in Italy are just a preview of what we can expect ‎‎in November."‎

I've worried since Bush was reelected in 2004 that it's what we can expect in 2008. In ‎‎fact, I really believe Bush/Cheney had no intention of ever stepping down, calling for ‎‎martial law, creating mayhem, anarchy, World War III --- whatever was necessary to ‎‎maintain power. My only hope was their overwhelming unpopularity. --- And because ‎‎that is now a reality, I suspect that they’ve suddenly realized their hold on power is ‎precarious at ‎best. So I’m awful pleased to say, I don’t think my dire forecasts are quite ‎as eminent or ‎as possible as I once thought. --- Or at least, I hope… ‎ ‎

It would appear that Mr. Berlusconi has learned much from Mr. Bush's Political Wizard. I guess the one thing he didn't learn well enough was how to conjure up a win ;-)

"Strategy of Tension" is an old Fascist standby. If the election is close enough that it can be reasonably in doubt, sow confusion quickly and loudly and seize power immediately. The reality of the actual votes may not matter if one can claim the mantle before anyone finds out definitely otherwise.

For a prime example of how this works, as orionATL points out, one need look no further than Florida 2000. Karl the Wizard has a history of this if you look back to some of his earlier campaigns.

The national Republican leadership is in fear mode. The White House is in crisis mode. The crisis is a potential loss of Congressional control in November. The only firewall that matters now is keeping supoena power in Republican control. The election stakes have never been higher. For either side. I agree with orionATL and Mimikatz that Florida 2000 may be a cakewalk compared to November 2006.

John Casper thanks for the headsup on Novak. I've heard several of the Republican operatives on T.V. today parrot that line. So, the public relations battle is on. Is that indictment fear I smell?

Mr. Berlusconi appears to not only have been a poor leader but also a second-rate practioner of the "electoral black arts". It appears that he'll have to settle for the corollary of the "strategy of tension". If one is unsuccessful in claiming the mantle of leadership upon a close election, then "poison the public well" thereby hastening the downfall of the party who seized power and consequently fashioning a second chance at winning an electoral victory.

The end game for Mr. Berlusconi, though, is most likely much simpler. I agree with JohnLopresti that Mr. Berlusconi is more interested in saving himself.

Jon

Not that the Italian left is corrupt (well...), but I half wonder if Berlusconi was just playing against someone who engaged in the game. I mean, suppose for a moment that Diebold machines are as easy to hack as everyone says? Well, programmers tend to the liberatarian side, if not Democratic, of politics. Why haven't there been any mysterious Democratic wins? I'm not advocating cheating. But I'm really surprised that no one, not even the leftover corrupt party hacks from when the Dems ruled the world, have cheated.

jon

" 'strategy of tension' is and old fascist standby."

haven't heard that one before.

i think i'll store it away for future use.

any citations you could add to amplify?

thanks

Emptywheel, there has always been election chicanery, in both the States and in European politics. In the States, most of it has to do with maintaining a registration advantage or reducing a disadvantage by making it difficult for people to register (usually benefits Republicans), using poll watchers to challenge "some" voters (favors Republicans), finding reasons to discard votes afterwards (favors the party in control of the ballot box), stuffing the ballot box and the nefarious techniques used to suppress voter turnout.

The Diebold machines/Electronic Voting is new and unproven. Whether there was hacking we will probably not know for many years. However, let me relate a parallel to this. There was once a county election officer who was long suspected of changing the outcomes of local elections in the following way: When the paper ballots came in to be scanned, the ballot boxes were carried to his office and stored there. He alone, behind locked door, opened the boxes and prepared them for counting by the scanner. Election results in races where the opposing party most likely won would turn into a small win for the incumbent party of which he was a member. In fact, no opposing party candidate won for many years. However, toward the end of his tenure, a clerk, who most likely was interested in the well-discussed rumors, happened to come upon pre-marked ballots in his desk early in the day of one general election. ;-)

So, the number of ballots cast matched the number of ballots scanned. It's just a question of which ballots got scanned ;-) How would you prove fraud? You can't because you don't know which ballots are which even should you happen to discover marked ballots in the trash can. ;-) Now if there had been exit polls taken on that day, they might have been quite different than the actual election results. But then people would just say that it was the sample that was the problem. Perhaps they would argue that the exit poll was wrong b/c people had lied about whom they actually had voted for. Or maybe the exit polls were wrong. And the election results were wrong. Who would ever know for certain?

If there's smoke, there's usually a fire. Detecting election fraud is both art and science. If one is familiar with the voting district and the voting patterns then one can usually suspect some fraud is present if there is a noticeable deviation from the established patterns. However, suspecting fraud and perhaps understanding how it was carried out is very different than proving it. Election fraud is almost impossible to prove by a criminal legal standard and often times even by a preponderance of the evidence. There is very seldom a "smoking gun". However, to quote Judge Judy, "If something doesn't smell right, then it's probably not right".

So, if you want to avoid the effects of election chicanery, you have to win by a large enough margin that the effects of the election chicanery are swamped. The risk that there will be cheating and the scale of it are both heightened in direct proportion to the anticipated closeness of an election. Also, it is exactly in close elections where cheating cannot be easily discerned from the voting patterns.

orionATL,

I'm sorry but I can't quite recall the particular readings from which I learned about that strategy. I took some seminars in European Politics when I was a University student. That was quite a while ago and I no longer have the readers from those seminars. I hadn't ran across that term in a long time. So, it was quite a pleasant surprise to see Emptywheel use it.

Should I run across a reference or a reading for it I will be sure to let you know. But I suspect that it can be found in most political science readers dealing with the politics of fascism.

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