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'Mob' threatens democracy -- Lieberman

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Democrat Veep candidate Joe Lieberman has taken the offensive in the exchange of accusations over Florida's election madness by denouncing Republican protestors as an angry mob of lawless vigilantes.

"This is a time to lower the rhetoric and lift our national dialogue," Lieberman said during a press conference Friday, and then proceeded to lower the rhetoric straight into a sewer of innuendo and allegations of Republican dirty tricks.

Admittedly, a group of Republican protestors in Miami-Dade county did get a bit carried away at one point last week, requiring the intervention of police; but that was an isolated event which was swiftly handled by the authorities. Overall, the protestors have been loud, rhetorically uncharitable, discourteous, but perfectly peaceful.

The Democrats are now seizing the brief fracas in Miami-Dade to wring the maximum rhetorical impact from a mere incident, and, we believe, to construct a legal foundation on which to force Miami-Dade to continue its abandoned manual re-count.

The Gore camp had asked the Florida Supreme Court to force Miami-Dade to resume the re-count, and was shot down. Accusations of mob intimidation are clearly meant to get them an appeal on that issue.

"These demonstrations were clearly designed to intimidate and to prevent a simple count of votes from going forward," Lieberman said with a deliberate air of gravitas.

The implication here is that the demonstrators intimidated the local election officials, directly (and illegally) cowing them into submission. They had gathered "not just to express a point of view, but to disrupt and halt the counting of ballots."

"This is a time to honour the rule of law, not surrender to the rule of the mob," he said gravely. "This is a time for patience and respect, not intimidation and violence. According to one network news report last evening, the demonstrators in Dade County were guided by, and I quote, 'a Republican public relations officer.'"

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, five US Representatives, all Democrats, urged the US Department of Justice to launch an investigation into Miami-Dade's decision to stop the manual re-count, claiming that Republican apparatchiks created a "climate of fear" to intimidate the election board by bussing in heaps of angry hooligans.

"According to many published reports, unruly and violent protesters managed to create a climate of fear and intimidation, with the intent of preventing the canvassing board from completing its task," the five said in a letter to US Attorney General Janet Reno.

"In addition, published reports strongly suggest these actions were orchestrated by the Bush campaign." Such activities "could amount to voter intimidation in violation of federal law."

The letter was signed by US Representatives Sheila Jackson-Lee and Eddie Johnson (D-Texas), Carrie Meek and Peter Deutsch (D-Florida) and William Jefferson (D-Louisiana).

This little development was clearly aimed at boosting lead hatchet-man Lieberman's credibility as he denounced the protestors on network television.

Such unruly hooligans "do a disservice to our democracy," Lieberman warned finally.

How odd -- we'd always imagined that protesting one's objections in public was a function of democracy. But then, what do we know about US politics? ®

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