Former Senator Coleman is widely acknowledged to have lost the election, but is refusing to step aside.(When the first election results seemed to favor him, Coleman told Franken to bow out for the good of the state.) Now his legal challenges seem designed to draw out the controversy as long as possible and deprive the Senate of an additional Democratic senator.
But it's not enough for the Republicans to drag their feet on this matter. They are also lying about Franken and smearing him the entire time with completely unsubstantiated accusations of him "stealing" the election. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Dick Morris and Ann Coulter have been putting these lies out there for months. But the truth is that the panel in Minnesota that has handled the recounts is anything but left-leaning.
All the usual suspects have echoed these false charges across the airwaves and the Internet. What they invariably neglect to mention is that the Minnesota Canvassing Board, whose decisions have so displeased the Republican right, was impeccably nonpartisan. Nobody in their right mind in Minnesota believes that the board was biased -- and, in fact, Powerline blogger Scott Johnson, no friend of Democrats or Franken, has specifically spoken up to defend it. "There was no noticeable partisan division among the board," he wrote. "Minnesotans are justifiably proud of the transparency and fairness of their work."
Two of its five members are Supreme Court judges appointed by Tim Pawlenty, the state's conservative Republican governor, each with a long record of loyal service to the GOP; a third is a nonpartisan elected judge; a fourth was appointed by former independent Gov. Jesse Ventura; and only one, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, is a Democrat. At the outset, Coleman's own lawyers accepted the panel's membership, as did everyone else, including Franken, who might have protested that his own party had only one member.
Their decisions against Coleman, which led to Franken's provisional victory by 225 votes, were unanimous. It is this group, composed of distinguished judges with spotless reputations, whose hard work has been described in odious terms by the likes of Morris, Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.
Unfortunately, since Franken is a public figure, he faces major legal obstacles in silencing the lies.