I want to wish a “Merry Christmas” to all my Christian friends out there. And to my many half-Christian friends, I wish a “Half-Merry Christmas.” To my “recovering Catholic” friends making their annual tension-filled trip to visit family, I realistically wish a “Tolerable Christmas.” And to my fellow Jews, I wish that movie theaters and chinese restaurants were still half-empty on Christmas day like they always were in the days of my youth back East.
To everybody else… “Happy Saturday!”
And just to prove I can twist nearly any topic into a political debate, I thought I’d relate a true Christmas story.
The other day my seven-year-old daughter — my brilliant and beautiful half-Jewish, half-Irish, shayna colleen — for the first time asked me if I believed in Santa Claus. I honestly replied, “No.”
I then asked her if she believed in Santa Claus, and without hesitation she said that she did. But when I asked her “Why?”, she paused for a moment, rolled her eyes in my direction, and incredulously exclaimed: “Well, your parents wouldn’t lie to you!”
And it occurred to me, that this is a metaphor for public perception over the torturous vote count in the governor’s race: people believe what they want to believe.
The very fact that my daughter asked me my opinion, showed that “the Santa question” had already raised certain logical incongruities not easily reconciled in her seven-year-old mind. And yet, she has chosen to believe two equally unlikely premises, that A) a magical fat man squeezes down her chimney to deliver presents on Christmas morning, and B) that her parents never lie to her.
Her suspension of disbelief is all the more remarkable considering that not only did her parents contradict each other on the question of Santa’s existence, but that neither one of us actually has a chimney that would lead Santa anywhere, but to a painful death in a fiery home furnace.
Now compare that to the many Dino Rossi supporters who passionately believe that the gubernatorial election was “stolen” by corrupt King County Democrats.
We are told that Democrats shamefully abused their 2-1 majority on the canvassing board to add, subtract and divine just enough votes to give Christine Gregoire the victory. And yet, the lone Republican on the three-member panel has publicly vouched for the integrity of the process, pointing out that all but 20 of the 1600 ballots before them were decided unanimously, and that he was not always on the losing side of those few split decisions.
We are told that King County Democrats cynically changed the rules of the recount by adding to “the universe of ballots.” And yet Rossi himself gained votes from hundreds of new ballots added in counties he won, while the Supreme Court, the Republican Secretary of State, the Republican King County Prosecutor, and Democratic and Republican county auditors from throughout the state have all affirmed that all these ballots were counted according to the long-standing rules.
And we are told that — as usual — the Democrats have stolen this election by fraudulently counting illegal votes. And yet despite all the insinuation and innuendo, the Republican Party has not set forth a single scrap of evidence of a single fraudulent vote. Whether these baseless allegations come directly from his mouth or not, Rossi has clearly sanctioned a dishonest and disgusting PR campaign cleverly devised to force upon Democrats the impossible task of proving a negative in the court of public opinion.
Now I totally empathize with Republican anger and disappointment… and even their suspicions. They truly believe that Rossi was by far the better candidate for the office, and thus they must find it incomprehensible that Gregoire could legitimately secure a majority of the votes, however slim. And what could be more frustrating than to believe that you have won, only to see victory slip away in the final days of the final recount?
But just because your party leaders tell you that Democrats are all a bunch of liars and thieves who would do anything to hold onto power — and just because it may be comforting to believe this in your moment of political grief — doesn’t make it true.
The truth is, parents sometimes lie to their children. Sometimes because we believe it is best for them, and sometimes out of, um… administrative convenience. And the truth is, politicians — or at least their spokespeople — sometimes lie to their supporters.
Now I’m not saying that Democrats aren’t just as likely to believe what they want to believe. But when the Rossi campaign tells us that when all the legitimate votes are counted, when the law is applied equally, when the corruption is uncovered, and the fraudulent ballots cast aside, that Dino Rossi will be governor… it is the political equivalent of telling us that there is a Santa Claus.
Believe it if you want, if that’s what makes you feel better. But it doesn’t make it true.