Know your enemy
By Linda A. Prussen-Razzano
Senator Joseph Lieberman, Vice President Al Gore's running mate, publicly issued allegations that the Republican Party was bussing paid operatives to Florida for the expressed purpose of intimidating local election officials into stopping the manual recount. Other Democrat spinmeisters are now running amok on the airwaves decrying any public displays of Republican outrage as "dangerous." In effect, this is the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy revisited, where anyone uncomfortable with Democrat shenanigans is a vicious partisan; therefore, their indignation is evil in its intent.
Not only is this approach pitiful, it reveals just how little they know about their "opposition."
The rallies and protests I've seen on the television have all the hallmarks of a "FReep." FReep is a term coined several years ago by the registered users at FreeRepublic.com, a political action web-site for conservatives. The "Sore Loserman 2000" signs now peppering mainstream news casts were not compiled by the Republican Party. This ingenious phrase was coined by three registered users, "CPL Baum," "Registered," and "Mass Exodus." [Click here for the story or here to buy t-shirts]
The now famous "Cops Cheer," heard in the background of Washington reporter's newscasts, originated in the weekly Washington, D.C. protests by, yet again, FreeRepublic. On their own time and their own dime, this loosely knit group of motivated citizens has been holding peaceful protests across the country for at least two years. If the Republican Party was actually paying protestors, as Senator Lieberman would have us believe, then "Angelwood" and several other "Freepers" have considerable back pay coming to them.
Obviously, it's easier for Senator Lieberman to believe the Republican Party is bussing people in and paying them to protest; the alternative means that a genuine ground swell of disgust is now leaving the privacy of living rooms and spilling into the streets. Senator Lieberman would like to believe these protestors are simply cheap political hacks, ready to mouth any slogan for the almighty dollar; the alternative means that average men and women are using their holiday time to make their voice heard at such a critical juncture in our nation's history. After taking such a disastrous hit with their notorious 5-page military memorandum, they can't afford any more losses in the public relations war and must immediately attempt to discredit any voice of dissent.
Their response backfired. The buzz is that several otherwise complacent groups are now active and outraged. Instead of sitting back, watching as "dimples" are divined while bona fide military ballots are discarded, they plan to also take to the streets in peaceful, but vocal protest. How many protestors will it take, Senator Lieberman, before you realize the Republican Party can't possibly be "paying" them all?
The pinnacle of this debacle was Senator Lieberman's assertion that these protests were meant to intimidate election board officials. This, from the campaign that threatened and effected legal action against election board officials because they weren't following orders? This, from the campaign that excoriated Secretary of State Harris and maligned Republicans? This, from the campaign that is actively attempting to influence representatives to the Electoral College? If the allegation weren't so pathetic, it would be funny.
Finally, these protestors are not "thugs." They are citizens of the United States. You presumably want to be our Vice President; that makes you our servant, not our master. When they, and others like them, peacefully protest, they are exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment rights; only a fascist would consider this "dangerous."
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