Yesterday was a bad day for Feisty, my petulant little puppy. We awoke at 6 am to empty her young bladder, but on our way to the backdoor she took a shortcut on the living room rug. Later, annoyed with me for paying more attention to Kirby Wilbur than to her, she made every effort to voice her opinion on the air. The difficult behavior continued. She chased the cat. She dug a hole in the backyard, caking herself with mud. And when not chewing on my hands, ankles and feet, she destructively masticated whatever piece of furniture or household object was most convenient.
Finally, at the end of this long, tiring day, I returned Feisty to the family from whom we had adopted her, locked her in the kennel with her last remaining litter mates, got back in the car, and drove off.
Assuming dogs have the ability to reason (and for rhetorical purposes we’ll leave that assumption unchallenged,) one could hardly blame her for having the impression that, angry and exasperated, I had abandoned her. That would be a logical conclusion… at least, for a dog.
Likewise, one can hardly blame ardent Dino Rossi supporters for believing that Democrats stole the gubernatorial election. After twenty years of Democratic governors, it looked like the GOP had finally found their champion. Rossi came out ahead in the first two counts, only to lose a heartbreaker of a hand recount by the tiniest of margins. And in the aftermath of the election it was revealed that there were hundreds of errors and illegal votes statewide, including felons voting, mishandled provisional ballots, uncounted valid ballots, and an inability to entirely reconcile ballots cast with voters credited.
To be honest, if the shoe were on the other foot, I’d be suspicious too. Just like poor, abandoned Feisty.
But what the unhappy puppy doesn’t realize, is that I had long planned to be out of town this weekend to attend my niece Ariel’s Bat Mitzvah, and had arranged to return Feisty for a few days as a condition of the adoption. Tuesday morning she will be back at home, happily peeing on the rug and chewing my limbs and furniture.
I think you all know where I’m going. My dog’s conclusion, however logical, was misguided. Likewise, so is the fervor of Rossi’s dogs of war. Whatever empathy I might have for them, their suspicions have simply not been proven by six months of investigations and two weeks of courtroom non-drama. There were errors. There were illegal votes. But there is absolutely no evidence that any of these advantaged one candidate or the other.
That the margin of victory was too far within the error rate to confidently determine the winner was never in doubt — that is true of all extremely close elections. What is lost in all the rhetoric is that the legal question at stake in this trial was never about whether errors occurred in King County or elsewhere… it is about whether these errors demonstrably changed the outcome. Dino Rossi lost the election by the rules in place… rules that anticipate that no election is perfect. And as in all elections, the winner was determined by the ballots counted, not the ballots cast.
That may strike some as unfair, but that is reality.
My guess is, that whatever her current state of mind (again, assuming she has one,) upon my return Feisty’s understandable suspicions will be quickly forgotten. And that, I’m afraid, is where my admittedly tortured analogy ends.