It was election night 1960 and as the votes trickled in, those surrounding Vice President Richard Nixon were convinced Democratic vote fraud in Illinois and Texas were about to cost their man the White House in the closest presidential election since 1840. It would all turn, in the end, on Illinois. The Republican-leaning counties had already reported in while Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was holding back the Cook County vote, knowing exactly how many votes he would need to report to give the state to Democrat John F. Kennedy.
Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, a Kennedy intimate, reported years later that a worried Kennedy called Mayor Daley that night for assurances that all would be well. Mr. Daley didn’t hesitate, assuring his candidate that “with a little bit of luck and the help of a few close friends, you’re going to carry Illinois.” Daley was right, of course, and by morning he and a few of his close friends delivered the White House to Mr. Kennedy.
Mr. Nixon’s friends, including Illinois’ legendary Sen. Everett Dirksen, believed they had convincing evidence of what had happened and urged Mr. Nixon to demand a recount. In the end, however, Mr. Nixon said no, because even if they were right, a refusal to accept the results would result in turmoil and undermine the foundations of the country.
But that was then. This year Hillary Clinton and the American left are acknowledging nothing. They are convinced that fraud, lies and foreign governments conspired to elect Donald Trump on Nov. 8 and are apparently willing to do whatever might be necessary to keep him from being sworn in as our 45th president in January. The far left took to the streets as soon as the networks declared him the winner and has vowed to close down Washington on Inauguration Day.
During the campaign itself and since, Mrs. Clinton’s supporters and friends in the media have charged that the voters were somehow bamboozled by “fake news,” the FBI and hackers working at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin to keep her from being elected. Back in 1960, Mr. Nixon blamed the machinations of vote-stealing elected officials for what went on, while Mrs. Clinton and her allies are essentially blaming foreign powers and an easily bamboozled and not overly bright electorate for her defeat. The old liberal question of “What’s wrong with Kansas?” has morphed into the broader “What’s wrong with America?”
There seems no conspiracy too bizarre as they spin facts to support their belief that Mr. Trump should be denied the White House. Prior to the election when they thought the lady would win in a walk, the nation’s media and Mrs. Clinton spent a good bit of time warning us that if Mr. Trump and his followers didn’t immediately accept the results, they would be responsible for destabilizing the very foundations of our democracy. In their third debate, Mrs. Clinton said that in suggesting things might be rigged against him, Mr. Trump was “talking down our democracy” and The New York Times suggested that questioning the outcome “risks lasting danger to the Republic.”
Mr. Nixon would have agreed with these observations, but not Mrs. Clinton or her allies in the media. First came the attacks on the Electoral College, an institution both her campaign and the media had prior to the election pointed to as the firewall protection against a Trump victory. Anyone who watched the television talking heads will remember the smugness with which they talked about Mr. Trump’s narrow if not nonexistent path to an Electoral College majority, and can compare it to the post-election demands that the college needs to be abolished or that duly elected electors somehow have a moral obligation to ignore the voters of their state, abandon Mr. Trump and cast their votes for Mrs. Clinton. Electors are receiving hundreds of emails, letters, telephone calls and death threats by those demanding they go rogue and the campaign to get them to do so is actually being applauded by the anti-Trump media.
Lest these efforts be dismissed as the rantings of a few half-crazed Clinton supporters inhabiting the fever swamps of the left, it should be noted that the campaign is being spearheaded by the left-wing Change.org, which claims to have collected the signatures of 4.6 million people in support of what they are doing.
Mrs. Clinton has herself decided to support the campaign to demand recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania if Green Party candidate Jill Stein is successful in getting something going — a desperate last shot at the brass ring. Even though few of her supporters think a recount will change anything, they harbor the hope that if the recounts cannot be completed by the Dec. 13 deadline, denying the Electoral College the ability to declare a winner when it meets on Dec. 19, there is an outside chance that they can throw the whole thing into the House of Representatives and give her one last shot at the office she has craved for so long.
As Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said upon hearing this news, “What a pack of sore losers.”
Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of how badly she comes off when compared to Richard Nixon.
• David A. Keene is opinion editor at The Washington Times.
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