The 2000 election is still an open sore on the body politic. That was clear from the outraged reaction to my mention last week of what would have happened with a full statewide manual recount of Florida.It's nice of Paul Krugman to remind people: The wrong man is President. An illegitimate Commander-In-Chief is in charge during wartime. In most countries, this would be reason for concern.
This reaction seems to confuse three questions. One is what would have happened if the U.S. Supreme Court hadn't intervened; the answer is that unless the judge overseeing the recount had revised his order (which is a possibility), George W. Bush would still have been declared the winner.
The second is what would have happened if there had been a full, statewide manual recount - as there should have been. The probable answer is that Al Gore would have won, by a tiny margin.
The third is what would have happened if the intentions of the voters hadn't been frustrated by butterfly ballots, felon purges and more; the answer is that Mr. Gore would have won by a much larger margin....
More broadly, the story of the 2000 election remains deeply disturbing - not just the fact that a man the voters tried to reject ended up as president, but the ugliness of the fight itself. There was an understandable urge to put the story behind us.
But we aren't doing the country a favor when we present recent history in a way that makes our system look better than it is. Sometimes the public needs to hear unpleasant truths, even if those truths make them feel worse about their country.
Not to be coy: election 2000 may be receding into the past, but the Iraq war isn't. As the truth about the origins of that war comes out, there may be a temptation, once again, to prettify the story. The American people deserve better.