Skip to comments.Alec Baldwin Compares 2000 Elections to Sept 11
Posted on 03/08/2002 7:42:46 AM PST by Dallas
Florida's 2000 presidential election fiasco damaged democracy as badly as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks hurt the nation, actor Alec Baldwin said Thursday.
Baldwin told a Florida A&M University audience that President Bush and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, are hoping that a wartime "moratorium on criticizing the government" will help Republicans in the fall elections.
Baldwin, a New Yorker, said memories of Sept. 11 have overshadowed public doubts about the 36-day recount of Florida presidential ballots. He said the war makes it hard for Bush critics to remind voters of "this other disaster that we faced in this country - a disaster that ... has done as much damage to our country as any terrorist attack could do, in some ways.
"I know that's a harsh thing to say, perhaps, but I believe that what happened in 2000 did as much damage to the pillars of democracy as terrorists did to the pillars of commerce in New York City," Baldwin said, drawing applause from the breakfast audience of about 200.
Bush spokeswoman Elizabeth Hirst said the governor signed legislation last year providing $24 million in election-reform funding over two years, including $6 million for voter education and $2 million for a statewide registration database. Much of the rest will go for replacing punch-card voting equipment and training poll workers to avoid what happened in the presidential election.
"Florida has moved on and America has moved on," she said. "We've got a president with incredibly high ratings now."
The governor also is running substantially ahead of Democratic challengers in Florida polls.
Baldwin is a board member of People for the American Way, a liberal lobbying group that sponsored the two-day observation of the second anniversary of a mass march on Tallahassee. The march protested the governor's 1999 executive orders that supplanted affirmative action in university admissions and state contracting.
As in a rally at St. Mary's Primitive Baptist Church on Wednesday night, speakers at the FAMU prayer breakfast focused more on the disputed 2000 presidential election than the One Florida protests they were commemorating. Baldwin and other speakers warned that voters will face new challenges this year because legislative and congressional redistricting is changing political boundaries.
He said the White House and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, along with the governor and other Republican leaders, are banking on the news media and voters staying distracted by the war on terrorism.
"When Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon spokespeople say to you, 'Well, this is going to be a long war, we're going to be in Afghanistan for the long haul,' what that euphemism means is that the moratorium on criticizing the government must be extended longer and longer and longer - ideally, beyond the 2002 election," Baldwin said.
Participants in the rally and prayer breakfast included Sen. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, and former Rep. Tony Hill of Jacksonville. The two staged a sit-in at the lieutenant governor's office Jan. 18-19, 2000, demanding to see Bush about One Florida. The sit-in led to a March 7 march of about 12,000 protesters on the Capitol and a voter-registration drive that boosted black turnout by about 65 percent in the presidential election.
Meek said the governor could be in trouble if people "remember in November" what happened two years ago.
"It's like a hurricane, starting like a tropical storm and going to Category 1, Category 2," Meek said. "That's what I feel is coming in November. In this upcoming election, for the first time in state history, we're going to make sure everyone's vote is counted."
Heh. I have a sinking feeling that the theme of the upcoming elections will be "I See Dead People" (apologies to that kid in the Willis movie).
Follow written directions? Unfair to the Democratic base!