"Renaissance Thinking About the Issues of Our Day"
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. wrote the article, "Was the 2004 Election Stolen? Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House."
[Thom Hartmann] Robert Kennedy, Jr. is with us. He is the author of a brilliant new piece of investigative reporting on Rolling Stone magazine this month, on the cover of Rolling Stone. Robert Kennedy, welcome to the program.
[Robert Kennedy] Thanks Thom.
[Thom Hartmann] Great to have you with us. Give us the snapshot of what your article is about.
[Robert Kennedy] Well, the, after investigating the election, the 2004 election, particularly in Ohio, which was a critical background state, we found that there were over 350,000 principally democratic voters who either were not allowed to vote because of corruption or illicit machinations by Republican Party officials, or whose votes were not counted. Incidentally, President Bush won the state allegedly by only 118,000 votes, so those 350,000 votes alone would have been enough to swing the presidency to John Kerry. Second of all, in 12 rural counties there was outright voter theft. There was old-fashioned ballot box stuffing and machine manipulation that shifted 80,000 votes that would have gone, that were intended by the voters to go to John Kerry, instead to President Bush. That's 160,000 votes that would have more than made up the differential. In addition to that there are 6 other counties where similar voting fraud took place that accounts probably for another 30,000 votes or a 60,000 vote differential. If the votes had been counted in Ohio, president Kerry, or John Kerry would have the presidency today. One of the anomalies that I talk about in the article are the election night polls. The exit polls. Exit polling is, Thom, is an exact science today. In Europe, for example, in Germany, exit polls for 2 generations have not been off by more than one tenth of one percent.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. In fact, let me just give you a quick story. I lived in Germany for a while, over an election year and everybody votes on paper, it takes up to 2 days to count them, but by the time, within an hour of the time that the ballots close, the polls close, everybody in the country knows who won, even before the votes have actually been counted, because of the exit polls.
[Robert Kennedy] That's right.
[Thom Hartmann] And it works just fine.
[Robert Kennedy] And exit polls have been used to overturn elections recently in the Ukraine and in the nation of Georgia. They are, as I say, they're an exact science. The exit polls during the 2004 election were the most extensive and the most expensive ever made. They were commissioned by 6, by all the television networks and major news agencies who commissioned Edison Mitofsky who are the number one pollers and Mitofsky invented the exit poll. And the exit polls showed Kerry winning the national vote decisively, but also winning in virtually all of the battleground states, count the 11 battleground states. And yet when the official tallies came in, and this was at midnight, and when the official tallies came in by the morning, those votes had shifted. The margins had shifted instead to George Bush, in some cases, in some of those states, by up to 9 percentage points. In Ohio it was a 6 point differential between the exit polls and the final tally. And statisticians who looked at that say that that's a statistical impossibility. The chances of that happening in 3 of those states, I think, are one in 60 million. It can't happen. And yet, it happened. Those kinds of shifts happened in 9 of the 11 critical battleground states. Those kind of shifts are a strong indication of voter fraud and indeed, when we went and looked at what happened in the state, there is no legitimate dispute that high level Republican Party officials orchestrated a deliberate concerted effort to steal the election. Now, and there is strong evidence, really overwhelming evidence, that they succeeded in doing so. The really, I think, momentous part of this story is the unwillingness of the national press to cover this issue.
[Thom Hartmann] Now, I would also submit to you, Robert Kennedy Jr., the author of this article in Rolling Stone, rollingstone.com, you can find it right now, that this is not new. The Republicans have been doing this for some time. I have a clip here of Paul Weyrich, you know, the Republican strategist who takes credit for Reagan's election. And he was speaking in a church to a group of Republican strategists and this about 15 years ago, almost 15 years ago. Paul Weyrich, here's just a 20 second clip. I think you'll find it very interesting. "Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome. Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." And this is the game that the Republicans played masterfully in this election.
[Robert Kennedy] Of course Paul Weyrich is the genius who created the Christian Right.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. He's the founder of the Christian Coalition.
[Robert Kennedy] Right, and he is one of the people, he and Richard Viguerie invented direct mail.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Robert Kennedy] And they're the ones who figured out how to organize all of these, this kind of right wing malcontents and put them at the service of corporate power America. And of course one of the ways that they do that, since the policies that they're advocating don't support the, are not supported by the vast majority of the American people, they have to suppress the vote. Now, you know, this is not, this should not be a partisan issue. This is an issue that should concern Democrats and Republicans because this is the erosion of our democracy. And there's, you know, I really don't, I think arguably it is the single most important issue that we face today and in our country because if people believe that they have been deprived of their franchise, if they believe that their vote doesn't count, there's really, our democracy ultimately is going to collapse.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, if it hasn't already. I mean, this, what you suggest in your article is pretty compelling. Would you come right out and say that you have the evidence, you have proof or at least enough to satisfy, in your opinion, a jury that the Republicans stole the election and that John Kerry should be president of the United States?
[Robert Kennedy] Well, here's what I would say. I would say that there's indisputable evidence that the Republicans tried to steal the election, that there's overwhelming evidence that they succeeded in stealing the election. I think that yes, you could convince a jury and I'm convinced that they succeeded in stealing the election. But it's almost a distraction at this point to dwell on that point because, you know, the thing that, you know, I think that we have to focus the national press on is the open efforts of the Republicans to try to steal the election.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, there's another election coming!
[Robert Kennedy] Exactly. And that is the scandal. And I think what the Republicans will say is, you know, the people who are defending this, and I was on Tucker Carlson last night and I was gratified that, you know, at the end of the interview he said this is a serious issue and this is not a crackpot issue and people should read this article, because it, you know, it's a good thing to see that kind of integrity within the Republican Party, that we all share some kind of values and that the integrity of our democracy is important to all Americans whether you're Republican or Democrat. But people who want to distract us from looking at this issue altogether will say, 'oh well, there's no proof; you'll never be able to prove beyond any doubt that the election was in fact stolen'. And that's probably true. It's true because the ballots are about to be destroyed. Under Ohio law they can be destroyed within 3 years after the elections and that deadline is coming up. And so the proof is going to disappear. But the fact is there is no dispute, no legitimate dispute; that the efforts were made to steal the election. And that, I think, is something that everybody has to focus on. It's a scandal and people should be prosecuted for it, there should be hearings, people should go to jail.
[Thom Hartmann] We're talking with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., his new piece in Rolling Stone magazine over at rollingstone.com about the theft of the election in 2004 and what it means for American democracy. Robert, can you stick around for another segment?
[Robert Kennedy] Sure.
[Thom Hartmann] We have to take a commercial break here but we'll be right back and with more. Robert Kennedy, I'd like to go through the article; it's broken into pieces and some of the specifics, the components of how this theft happened and what we should be doing about it.
"Now It’s all designed to blow our minds
But our minds won’t really be blown
Like the blow that'll get you when you get your picture on
The cover of the Rolling Stone"]
[Thom Hartmann] Ah yes, the cover of the Rolling Stone. Robert Kennedy Jr., his new article, "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?", and the subtitle "Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House". Robert Kennedy, I'd like to just play a short clip of Jack Cafferty on CNN yesterday, just summarizing some of the proposals that the Republicans are putting forward with regard to voting and get your take on this if I may, OK? [crackle] Hello?
[Robert Kennedy] Hello.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. Are you still with us?
[Robert Kennedy] Yeah.
[Thom Hartmann] OK. Let me play you this clip and I'd like to get your response to this. [clip:]
"With midterm elections about five months away, the fundamental right of many Americans to vote might be in jeopardy. Florida has passed a new law that makes it financially impossible for the League of Women Voters to continue to register new voters. They decided they can no longer afford to carry out that mission. It’s something they have been doing for 67 years. That’s a shame.
"In Washington, a new law prevents people from voting if the state cannot match information on voter registration forms with government databases. Good luck depending on the accuracy of government anything.
"And Congress is considering a Voter ID requirement that they would tack on to the Immigration Reform Bill. It would require all voters to present federally-mandated photo ID — even people who have voted for years would have to get one of these photo IDs in order to vote in 2008. People without drivers licenses, including many elderly and city residents who don’t drive might fail to do so, and thus would be ineligible to vote."
[Thom Hartmann] So, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., what, this is just more of the same, isn't it?
[Robert Kennedy] Yeah, and this is, you know, those were, a few of literally hundreds of similar proposals that are being advanced in state legislatures across the country. In Ohio there's a whole raft of bills that removes the barriers for corporate contributions and create barriers for ex felons to vote, creates essentially poll taxes for, you know, that were abolished back in the 60s across the south because they were seen as racist and they were seen as depriving minorities of their franchise. But those kind of bills are being advanced, these kind of subtle bills that try to exclude poor voters, Democratic voters, essentially, from the political process. And the voter ID is the holy grail of people who want to ensconce a permanent Republican majority in this country.
[Thom Hartmann] Because the white middle class and up will have no problem producing such an ID or hiring it done or whatever, whereas a lot of working people, and certainly elderly and poor people or urban dwellers who don't drive.
[Robert Kennedy] Elderly, urban people and minorities, people who don't have driver's licenses would be hard pressed to, you know, it's very, you know, right now, even using the kind of the large amount of money that we had, that the Democratic Party had in 2004, we were able to register people, but you could register just by filling out a couple of lines on a form that you tore out of a newspaper.
[Thom Hartmann] Right.
[Robert Kennedy] And it's still, you know, we have large amounts, numbers of Americans who aren't registered. If you had to force all of those people to go in and get a driver's license, or to get an ID from the government, which sometimes, you know, I just got my lawyer's ID and it took almost 4 months for me to get it. And it was, you know, it's a distracting, an inconvenient process.
[Thom Hartmann] And very difficult if you have to work for a living and you have to take a day off to do it.
[Robert Kennedy] Exactly. And people who work and people who are elderly who overwhelmingly vote Democratic are not going to be able to do that.
[Thom Hartmann] Now, two quick points - we only have about 2 minutes left - Robert, we're talking with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. His new piece in Rolling Stone magazine, you have to go to rollingstone.com or buy a copy even better of Rolling Stone magazine, support the magazine and read this thing. In 2001, in November 2001 the New York Times [subscription - full text here] buried in paragraph 17 a sentence that said, "An approach Mr. Gore and his lawyers rejected as impractical - a statewide recount - could have produced enough votes to tilt the election his way, no matter what standard was chosen to judge voter intent". In other words, Gore won the 2000 election. Now, you're suggesting ...
[Robert Kennedy] Right, and that's, you know, that's right, and they buried it, they deep sixed that, deep, deep in the story. This was the product of a one year investigation by a whole raft of newspaper syndicates that actually went out and counted all of Florida. And the product of that investigation wasn't released until a month after 9/11 and the editorial staff of the New York Times decided to bury it because they thought it was a time of national emergency. But it was a momentous story that should have been on the front page, that the wrong person was in the White House.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, and that was in 2000. Now, is this 2004 version of it that you've found going to get traction, do you think? We just have a few seconds left, I'm sorry.
[Robert Kennedy] Well, it's the same phenomenon that has happened. We have the national press that is simply ignoring this story. Most of the facts, although not all of them, but most of the facts in my article are facts that have been available to the press almost since election day. And yet people who question the election were shouted down. The 2 national reporters who really questioned this election were Republican Vanity Fair author Christopher Hitchens and Keith Olbermann from MSNBC and Keith Olbermann received hate mail from all over the country.
[Thom Hartmann] Right. I'm sorry, we have to, it's 27 minutes past the hour...
[Thom Hartmann] This is the biggest story, I think probably the biggest story in the history of the United States. Think back. Was there ever a time in the United States where there was clear evidence that a president stole two elections in a row? That a person sat as president of the United States for eight years without having been elected because he stole both elections? Has it ever happened? It has never happened before. This, in my opinion, is the biggest story in the history of the United States. You can find it. It's over at commondreams.org, you can find it over at rollingstone.com. Pick up a copy of the new issue of Rolling Stone out today, or out this weekend, this is huge.
And will it headline CBS news tonight? Will it headline NBC news tonight? Will it headline ABC news tonight? Will it be THE topic of Chris Matthews show today? Will it be the only topic that Joe Scarborough is talking about? Will it be the only thing that Wolf Blitzer is talking about? Is it going to be the core of talk radio?
My guess is that those corporate forces are just fine with a little corporatocracy, with a little bit of fascist government. That they're not really all that interested in democracy and if democracy has been essentially raped by George W. Bush and his buddies, that's fine with them because they're making our very well, thank you very much.