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By John Wilkes from

The fact that Norm Coleman has taken his reelection hopes to the courts shouldn’t upset Democrats. We like it when steps are taken to ensure that elections are conducted fairly. The source of our outrage is that when Al Gore was asking for due diligence in the 2000 Florida recount, Republicans were singing a different tune entirely.

The fact that former Republican Senator Norm Coleman has taken his quixotic quest for reelection to the Senate to the courts shouldn’t upset Democrats. We like it when steps are taken to ensure that elections are conducted fairly. Recounts are healthy for democracy. So Coleman has had his day in court, and despite sustaining one death blow after another from the respective judges, he’s pushing his appeal further and further into the 111th Congress. Fine. Let him. If judges reasonably conclude that more ballots should be counted, so be it.

It’s been almost 75 days since Democrat Al Franken was certified as the winner of the 2008 Minnesota Senate election. The initial ballot count put the two men within 215 votes of each other, triggering a statutorily mandated recount. When the dust settled, Franken was up 225 votes. Ever since then, Minnesota has been short a Senator in Washington while Coleman exhausts every last legal maneuver he can think of.

And he’s been egged on all the way by Republican leadership, who want him to take his case all the way to the US Supreme Court:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): "We all remember Bush v. Gore."

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC): "From what I can tell, there are legal issues well worth taking up in the [Supreme] Court."

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL): "The state court is not the final word on that."

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN): "I will do all that I can to help him."

What should outrage Democrats is this: when Al Gore was asking for some due diligence in the Florida recount back in 2000, these Republicans were singing a different tune, while Democrats were calling for their own guy to throw in the towel for the good of the country.

Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia took to the House floor to demand that the Vice President and winner of the popular vote Gore should concede. "It is time for the vice president to do the responsible thing and accept the results of this election."

Oklahoma Republican JC Watts put in his two cents as well: "How many defeats are enough? The time has come for the vice president to admit defeat, concede gracefully and allow our nation to move forward with the transition of power."

Then there was Peggy Noonan, a conservative pundit and former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, who’s probably kicking herself the piece she wrote for TIME magazine. A few choice excerpts: "[He’s] putting the country through a terrible trauma to serve his own needs and retain personal power...Great harm has been done by Gore’s decision, and more is no doubt coming. If he manages to finagle his way to the presidency, his Administration is likely to prove true a dark saying: When you want it bad, you get it bad."

Ironically, Democrats were telling Gore to call it quits. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, then the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said of Gore, "He should act now and concede." The head of the party called for Gore to concede. "I proudly stand in support of Senator Norm Coleman’s pursuit to see that Minnesota’s voters are enfranchised by having their ballots counted. If voters do not have confidence in elections, then they will not have confidence in their elected leaders. That is why the judges’ review of thousands of additional ballots in Minnesota is critical to the democratic process."

Even Gore’s attorney, Lawrence Tribe, publicly advocated Gore’s withdrawal. "I think that the gracious thing is to accept even if one disagrees with the decision of the Supreme Court."

And Gore did. After the Court spoke, he didn’t pursue the voter disenfranchisement issues. When Democrats took to the floor of Congress essentially begging Gore not to back down, he put the country first and did it anyway.

I’m not asking Coleman to do the same. I wouldn't expect that level of class and dignity.  I’m just asking the Republicans who are backing him not to be quite so sanctimonious about it.

Originally posted to eyesonobama on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 08:25 AM PDT.

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