John Kerry Finally Meets a Close Election He Wants to Recount

The other day, Hugo Chavez’ successor Nicolás Maduro beat opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski by 2% of the vote. In the days since, opposition figures have sown violence, claiming vote fraud.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Kerry encouraged a recount.

Mr. Kerry, in comments to a House committee, said, “We think there ought to be a recount.” He added that he had not yet evaluated whether Washington would recognize Mr. Maduro’s victory.

This, in spite of a leaked recording of a close Capriles advisor admitting that this result was a political triumph but an electoral defeat.

This, in spite of the fact that when Bush beat Kerry with precisely the same percentage of the vote in 2004 amid reports of (limited) electoral oddities, Kerry chose not to demand a recount.

On November 2, 2004, George W. Bush beat John Kerry 50.7 percent to 48.3 percent. Venezuela’s foreign minister immediately (either that night or the day after) recognized the results: “we will hope that in this second mandate we can improve our relations.”

Fast forward nine years, and Nicolás Maduro beats Henrique Capriles with 50.7% of the vote and the US refuses to recognize the result. “Look, we’re just not there yet,” said a State Department spokesman (who now works for—wait for it— John Kerry). “Obviously, we have nearly half the country that had a different view. And so we’ll continue to consult, but we’re not there yet.”

Most interesting of all is something James Clapper just said in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. In response to a question from Richard Blumenthal about whether there had been fraud in the election, Clapper said (my rough transcription):

There may have been some, but it’s unclear whether it was of sufficient magnitude to merit recount. Right now it doesn’t appear to be.

In other words, even the intelligence says, whatever fraud there was, it wasn’t enough to affect the outcome.

At this point, the Administration’s hesitation at recognizing Maduro and Kerry’s support for a recount do nothing but stoke violence.

Which I can only assume is the point.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

3 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    Getting Kerry’s sorry butt out of the Senate gave us Elizabeth Warren. We should be grateful for that and that he is now in a mostly ceremonial job.

    Kerry’s failure to contest fraud in 2004 demonstrated that he was unfit for the job. Ken Blackwell moving Ohio’s election software to RNC servers and changing the vote was pretty egregious.

    Kerry’s failure to spend close to all the money he raised for that election was insult to injury. I pestered him for about a year to send me my contributions back since he had not used them for the purpose for which he solicited them. He never sent the money back, but I felt better.

  2. Roman Berry says:

    @lefty665: You wrote “Getting Kerry’s sorry butt out of the Senate gave us Elizabeth Warren”, and I couldn’t make myself pass it by without commenting.

    Elizabeth Warren’s presence in the US Senate has not a thing to do with Kerry’s exit. Warren beat Scott Brown for her seat. Mo Cowan was appointed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to serve as Senator in Kerry’s previous seat until the special election to fill the seat for the remainder of Kerry’s term is held in June.

    By the way, the Secretary of State is not a “mostly ceremonial job.” Where you get the idea that it is a “mostly ceremonial job” is a mystery to me.

  3. lefty665 says:

    @Roman Berry: Duh! My ditz on which seat it was. Thank you. Crow goes down better with ketchup.

    As to Sec of state, think about who we’ve had this millennium: Powell, Rice, Clinton and now Kerry. It is hard to argue that any of them were/are calling the foreign policy shots in their respective administrations.

    Hillary is as close as it came, and her hawkishness helped keep us in Afghanistan. Is that an improvement over Powell’s use as a propaganda tool to help get us into Iraq?

    Hard to see that diplomacy has done much to put us in a better position in the world than we were in pre 9/11. State does provide good cover and diplomatic immunity for lots of spooks. Puts on great parties too.

    Lots of bright, dedicated FSOs do good work while Secretaries come and go. I’m not picking on them, or the value of what they do.

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