The Self Made Pundit
Monday, October 07, 2002
DOG BITES REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: Perhaps there is little news value in finding Republican hypocrisy in electoral battles in the courts, but I think the New York Times buried the lead in its report on New Jersey Democrats' argument opposing the Republican appeal that asks the United States Supreme Court to block Frank Lautenberg from replacing Senator Robert Torricelli on the ballot.
The New York Times waits until the seventh paragraph to reveal that the position of Republican Senatorial candidate Douglas Forrester is even more hypocritical than the Self Made Pundit thought:
Mr. Genova [the Democrats' lawyer] also uncovered a legal memorandum from Mr. Forrester's lawyer written in April, when State Senator Diane Allen, one of Mr. Forrester's opponents in the Republican primary, was trying to block him from taking the ballot position of James W. Treffinger. Mr. Treffinger, the Essex County executive, had resigned from the race because of scandal three days earlier, or 40 days before the primary.
Senator Allen maintained that moving Mr. Forrester's name to Mr. Treffinger's place on the ballot would come too late under Title 19 of the state election law, which sets a deadline of 51 days before an election for ballot substitutions. It is the same argument that Mr. Forrester's lawyer, Peter G. Sheridan, made before the State Supreme Court on Wednesday, opposing Mr. Lautenberg's placement on the ballot. The Democrats said that the deadline was merely a guideline.
In April, Mr. Sheridan read the law the way the Democrats do today.
"Strict compliance to statutory requirements and deadlines within Title 19," Mr. Sheridan wrote, "are set aside where such rights may be accommodated without significantly impinging upon the election process."
The Times should have led with Forrester's previous embrace of liberal construction of the same electoral provision he now finds to be one of the sacred texts of democracy that must be strictly construed. The Republicans' hypocrisy is newsworthy (despite the DOG BITES MAN aspect of the story) because Forrester's lawsuit is based on a supposedly noble and self-effacing dedication to principle -- even if it does deprive voters of a choice. Indeed, Forrester's campaign is still peddling this particular mendacity. According to Forrester's campaign manager:
"Politically, it would make sense for us to accept the ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court and engage in a campaign against Frank Lautenberg right now. But Doug [Forrester] is unwilling to allow a horrible precedent to stand without taking it to the highest court in the land."
Perhaps Forrester's flaw as a candidate is that he is just too pure. Pure baloney, that is.