Recount

More

“Recount”, the HBO movie about the Florida presidential election fiasco of 2000, was good television: well made, well cast, and well acted (with an especially vivid, albeit cruel, portrayal of Katherine Harris by Laura Dern). Highly watchable.

Much as I enjoyed it, the predictable, inevitable, anti-Republican bias did become a little wearing. The movie encouraged you to think that for the Democrats it was all a matter of “counting every vote”—and who but a villain could object to that? Also, of course, you were invited to think that so long as this had been done Gore would have won. But this is still unclear, is it not? (Don’t answer that.) The treatment of the Florida Supreme Court’s pro-Gore decisions (wise, bold, disinterested) and the subsequent pro-Bush rulings of the Supreme Court (politically motivated, indefensible) was also tendentious and misleading. Two columns by Stuart Taylor (here and here) helped me refresh my memory of that aspect of the matter.

ABC’s Jake Tapper, who was a consultant on the film, notes that its “emotional core…makes it, probably, lean a little left. Not intellectually, but emotionally.” Oh sure. Probably, just a little, but not intellectually. (The title of Tapper’s book on the episode, which the film draws on, conveys its scrupulous intellectual detachment: “Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency”.)

Mainly, though, as I watched I was thinking, “only in America”. Much as I admire this country, could anywhere else take something so simple and make it so complicated and controversial? I mean, a full-scale constitutional crisis, arising out of an inability to count votes? Imagine, if you can stay awake while doing so, a movie about a close result in a British election. In my own land, a recount in a close vote means counting the ballots (crosses on slips of paper) once or twice more: it takes a few hours, and it’s over. In the meantime, there is little to see, though I’m sure many of the vote-counters have fascinating inner lives. However you look at it, thin material for lawyers or scriptwriters.

But the great thing is, the United States learns from its mistakes. Eight years on there is no chance of a candidate accusing another of suppressing votes to steal an election. Least of all in Florida.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon About the Toys in Your Cereal Box

The story of an action figure and his reluctant sidekick, who trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In