Franken-Coleman Update, 01/26/09: Let Me Win While You’re Ahead
The Coleman camp apparently signaled its main strategy in a conference call Sunday:
As former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s lawsuit contesting the results of a hand recount in Minnesota begins today, his lawyers are predicting a ‘very, very tedious proceeding."
The three-judge panel overseeing the suit will convene at 1 pm CT Monday. Coleman is contesting results that gave Democrat Al Franken the edge with 225 votes out of approximately three million ballots.
On a conference call Sunday, Coleman lawyer Joe Friedberg said he expects a "very, very tedious" proceeding. Friedberg, a prominent Minnesota lawyer, will present opening arguments in the case.
"It will be very boring," he said. "There’s no way I think I can interject any jokes into it."
So Joe Friedberg, Minnesota’s top white-shoe courtroom lawyer, is leading with the "Let me win even though you’re ahead or else we’ll keep holding the entire state and nation hostage with boring and bizarre stuff" strategy.
I was waiting to see Fritz Knaak’s and Tony Trimble’s names come up, but apparently the decision was made from On High that they couldn’t run a one-car parade — and really, when you’ve got the most prominent right-wing bloggers in the state, bloggers who are also practicing attorneys, repeatedly chewing you out over your bogus strategy, you know you’ve screwed up. So now, aside from Friedberg, the local talent has been pushed aside and the Pros from Dover are taking over spin duties:
Ben Ginsberg, a Coleman adviser since the recount who last week was chosen as the legal spokesman and who played a key role for Bush/Cheney in the Florida recount of 2000, admitted that in a "strictly legal sense" the burden falls on them in this case.
"We are, after all, the contestant," Ginsberg said, "but I have to say that we feel little weight on our shoulders as we go forward."
Yeah, because you know you’re going to lose. The Republican Senate caucus wouldn’t have agreed to three-member margins of dominance for the Democrats controlling Senate committees if they thought there was a snowball’s chance in hell of your winning. You’re not under any pressure to win, your job is to delay and obfuscate and muddy the waters so much that either people throw up their hands and call for a do-over, or to try and taint Al Franken’s win so he’s not perceived as legitimately Senator.
The urge to delay is likely one reason why, even though the trial was supposed to start at 1:00 pm CST today, it didn’t. Among other things, the Coleman campaign needs to subpoena all 10,000-odd properly rejected absentee ballots, ballots it wants added to the count even though they have already been reviewed and rejected twice. Why? Because the ballot copies they’d submitted as evidence were covered with marks and erased marks put on them by the Coleman team. As Eric Kleefeld, who has been covering this case for both Talking Points Memo and The UpTake, says, the Coleman people are very lucky the three-judge panel didn’t toss the whole case once the Franken team pointed out how messed up their evidence was.
Why is Norm fixating on absentee ballots that were rightly rejected twice per Minnesota law? No doubt because he’s hoping that you, the average person watching this from afar, will confuse these 10,000-odd rightly rejected absentee ballots with the wrongly rejected, or "fifth pile", absentee ballots, that Al Franken successfully sought to have included in the recount. That this in fact part of their game plan is shown by the Coleman team and their media surrogates’ attacking Al Franken for his alleged "hypocrisy" in wanting only legal absentee ballots counted.
The court proceedings start up again tomorrow at 9:00 am Central Standard Time. Follow along on The UpTake’s liveblog, and remember that the spin is quicker than the eye.