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From: Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics) <sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu>
To: Ali Antar <antar@mail.ccsu.edu>
Subject: Mr. Morality tries to cloak himself in the aura of Rev. King ! People are seeing through the hypocrite
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 14:36:35 -0500

>From the Hartford Courant: ( letters@courant.com
>mailto:letters@courant.com> )

Lieberman Wades Into Florida's Discontent: Sting Of 2000 Election Could Help Him In 2004

By David Lightman, The Hartford Courant, 22 January 2002

TAMPA -- There's still a quiet rage on Cypress Street when the subject of the 2000 presidential election comes up.

People in the heart of this city's black community still seethe about votes that didn't count and what looked like a systematic effort to disenfranchise them. That's why it was politically potent and poignant that Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., the man who might have been vice president had the Florida vote count been handled differently, came to preach Monday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Whether it will help Lieberman in his 2004 presidential quest is another question.

Lieberman was all empathy Monday as he tried hard to bond with black residents who lined the streets for a parade and gathered at the Bethel Baptist Institutional Church. He recalled how he stood at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963, when King delivered his I have a dream speech and how he was a freedom rider in 1964 in Mississippi.

He remembered how King stood in the wings one day when a young Lieberman spoke in Bridgeport. He shook my hand and in that magnificent voice said, `Very good, young man,' the Connecticut Democrat recalled wistfully.

But Florida's black community will not be an easy place for Lieberman to triumph on his own. At the church, a Tampa reporter asked the senator about his controversial 1995 view questioning affirmative action. I've been against quotas, Lieberman said, but not affirmative action.

He also encountered a small protest, people with signs saying that King would not have approved of Lieberman's eagerness to use the military with its disproportionately black ranks.

He's too militant, said Connie Burton, a local activist who waited outside the church. We want more attention paid to our neighborhoods, added Regina Jordan, a friend.

Still, a visit on King's day has important symbolic value for Lieberman.

The bitterness of the Supreme Court's Bush vs. Gore decision, which decided the presidency in 2000, has retreated into the history books in most of the country, but it's still alive here.

It's why Kim Henriquez, a first-grade teacher, hugged Lieberman and told him, I don't care what the votes say. You're my vice president.

That election was rigged, declared Perry King, a barber.

Florida politicos are still battling over just what happened. While the U.S. Civil Rights Commission found that more than half of the rejected votes were cast by blacks, Republicans rejected those findings and maintain that keeping the spirit of 2000 alive will not work.

Sen. Lieberman is just another senator visiting Florida. The only place the [2000] election still matters is in the very, very hard core on the Democratic side, said David Johnson, executive director of the Florida Republican Party.

Lieberman's visit was a way of showing solidarity with these grievances. He mentioned the 2000 election at each of his three stops in Tampa Monday and generally found appreciative, if not overwhelmingly enthusiastic, crowds.

At the University of Tampa football stadium, some 400 people sat sweltering in the stands as Lieberman interrupted the parade of marching bands and convertibles carrying notables.

In the year 2000, I was honored to be given the opportunity to be the first Jewish American to run for higher office in the United States of America, he said, and then told how civil rights leader Jesse Jackson called to congratulate him and tell him the choice helps open the doors for everyone.

Somebody out there, he said to the nearly all-black crowd, can grow up to be president of the United States.

But first, Lieberman wants a turn, and Florida will have a major say in who gets the 2004 presidential nomination and ultimately the White House. It was obvious Monday that Lieberman has two advantages: He was Vice President Gore's running mate, and thus a very visible part of the team that got hurt by Florida's voting irregularities, and he is immensely popular in the state's heavily Democratic Jewish community.

But it was just as obvious he needs to win friends among black voters. It's really not his constituency at all, said political analyst Jennifer Duffy.

Lieberman did win respect, if not friends, at the church. He thanked all of you who stood by us last year and talked about the power of the [electoral] franchise Dr. King fought so hard for.

Not bad, folks said. He was eloquent in the proper places, said Gerald White, a power plant operator. But he, like others, wouldn't commit to Lieberman. It's early, people said, and this community has heard political promises too often. Make no mistake, people said, Lieberman needs us.

But we will vote, vowed Bettye Davis Jordan, as she sat on her front step watching the parade. And we will be counted. We at least won't make that mistake again.