Defenders of President Obama are taking an interesting course as they seek to single out the motives of the president’s critics.
They suggest that the anti-Obama crowd is questioning his “legitimacy” as president.
We’ve been down this road before in recent political history, more or less.
Those who gnashed their teeth at George W. Bush’s election in 2000 questioned whether Dubya’s presidency was legit. He eventually was seated after a 5-4 vote by the U.S. Supreme Court to end the recount of ballots in Florida. Thus, Bush was elected by a single vote — on the high court. And that single vote came from a justice appointed by a Republican president, belonging to the same party as Bush.
Then we have the two elections of Bill Clinton. In 1992, Clinton was elected with 43 percent of the vote. In 1996, he was re-elected with a 49-percent plurality. “He wasn’t elected by a majority!” came the cries of the Clinton-haters. Those folks forgot, apparently, that Richard Nixon was elected in 1968 with a similar 43-percent plurality, but one didn’t hear those who opposed Nixon bring up his failure to obtain a majority. Nixon and Clinton were denied majorities by the presence of strong third-party candidates.
But here’s the deal. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t require a president to be elected by a majority. A simple plurality gets the job done, just as it does in Texas. Gov. Rick Perry won re-election in 2006, you’ll recall, with just 39 percent of the total vote. And Bush’s first election in 2000 was done in accordance with constitutional provisions.
President Obama’s popular vote margin of victory was significantly greater in 2008 than President Bush’s was in 2004 — and his Electoral College margin (365-173) was close to the totals run up by Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.
Obama’s presidency is legit, all right. So, let’s stop this talk of whether the president belongs in office. He does.