Guest Opinion: Stein’s recount is a sideshow

The Sacramento Bee
Nov. 29
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By insisting on recounts in three states, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is giving President-elect Donald Trump his comeuppance for all the times he insisted the American election system is rigged and rife with voter fraud.

Stein would be a footnote to the 2016 campaign, except that she raised $6.3 million to fund the recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, all of which swung Trump’s way on Nov. 8.

Her gambit could be less in the public interest and more in her own interest. No one seriously thinks the recount will change the verdict voters rendered. But by raising the money, she added to her fundraising base for some future campaign, quixotic though it may be.

Once Stein filed the paperwork to challenge results in Wisconsin, Hillary Clinton’s attorneys announced they would observe the process, even as they restated Clinton’s belief that the result will stand.

Clinton’s action was responsible; 64.7 million-plus Americans did vote for her. That didn’t stop Trump from haranguing her on Twitter. He really ought to curb such outbursts, given the amount of work he must do before he becomes leader of the free world on Jan. 20.

Alas, the Twitter presidency seems destined to be the new normal. Trump used Twitter to fan the flickering recount flame to claim, without evidence: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

He singled out California as one of the suspect states, prompting Secretary of State Alex Padilla to take to Twitter himself, to accurately label Trump’s claim absurd.

If one were to take Trump at his word, the vote should be scrutinized to identify and prosecute the “millions of people” who supposedly cast ballots illegally. In reality, Trump’s landslide was in his mind.

Although not all the votes have been tabulated, Clinton leads Trump in the popular vote by 2.24 million. In California, she leads him by almost 4 million votes. Trump netted 32.2 percent of Californians who voted, a smaller fraction than any candidate since Kansas Gov. Alf Landon received 31.7 percent in 1936.

Stein’s recount, like Trump’s claim of voter fraud, is little more than distraction, though it is a fitting coda to the carnival barker 2016 presidential campaign.

The public ought to focus on Trump’s nominees, why he refuses to place his business in a blind trust and why he is already commingling his private interests with the people’s business. And voters should wonder why a president-elect less than eight weeks from entering the White House would think he has this much time to tweet.