barbarahowardweb.gifRichard Pryor joked, “Do you believe me or your lying eyes?’’

Isn’t it strange that the bi-partisan bill changing Florida’s primary was passed by a unanimous vote, but now the Florida Democratic Party is blaming the change on the Republican-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor?

Both Florida and Michigan changed their primary dates and got punished by Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for having the primaries too early, but do you hear the political commentators blasting the Michigan governor and Legislature?  Of course not, because the Michigan governor is a Democrat.

Why is it that everything that is supposedly wrong in this country is blamed on the Republicans?  Is this another one of Michael Moore’s fictional “documentaries?” 

If the Florida Republicans were responsible, then why did Congressman Alcee Hastings and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, both Florida Democrats, sue the DNC for refusing to seat the Florida delegates, citing “(voter) disenfranchisement on a massive scale” by denying “up to 4.2 million culturally, socially and economically diverse Florida voters a say in picking the next Democrat nominee for president?

The Miami Herald
even quoted Steve Geller, Florida Senate Democratic leader as saying, “It’s hard to imagine anything the Democratic Party could have done which would have hurt us more, other than coming down here, dropping their pants, and mooning us.”

Tired of getting blamed for what they didn’t do, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Jim Greer, released a statement saying, “It’s time to set the record straight since the Democrats obviously wish to rewrite history and distort the facts.”

He wrote, “FDP Chairman Karen Thurman has recently been seen in the national media deceiving Floridians and the nation.  Here are the facts:  Florida Democrats co-sponsored the bill moving the primary forward.  They voted for it unanimously.  Later, when they realized that they were disenfranchising 1.7 million Democrats by ignoring the official state primary held on January 29, they scrambled for a political strategy and couldn’t find one.”

Even though Gov. Charlie Crist offered to allow a revote, Thurman told the media that the governor “did nothing to help.”

Greer further wrote that Thurman and Dean “want Florida voters to forget that Florida Democrat leaders supported the early primary….It’s obvious that Karen Thurman continues to be frustrated about the facts getting in her way. The facts are this: the Florida and National Democrat Parties have ignored voters in Florida and if they continue down this path they will disenfranchise Florida voters from the process of choosing the next president of the United States.”

Greer also quoted several newspaper articles discussing the Democrats complicity’ in the primary change “regardless of the DNC’s penalties.”

“Lawmakers supporting the move–including…House Democrat-ic Leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach — downplay the risk of being punished.” (Orlando Sentinel, 01/26/07)

“‘I don't have any constituents in the DNC,’ Gelber said. ‘I only have constituents in my district. They would like to be more relevant.’” (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 02/09/07)

“Supporters say the change would give Florida a stronger and earlier voice in the primary system while forcing candidates to take stands on issues that matter to Floridians, like a national catastrophe fund to help cover costs of hurricanes and other natural disasters. ‘We have a duty to the rest of the country to be in this process from the beginning,’ said Rep.
Keith Fitzgerald, a Sarasota Democrat and political science professor. ‘I think our voters don't want to be left out.’” (St. Petersburg Times, 02/09/07)

So while the Democrats continue to blame Republicans, Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) has said, “More than 3.5 million voters cast a ballot in Florida's Jan. 29th
Presidential Primary, which was endorsed by Florida Democrats in the House and Senate. The Democratic National Committee should count the Democrats’ votes and recognize Florida's delegates.”

Does that sound like what you heard on CNN?  I think not.  But the “spin” needs to stop and the Democrats need to take responsibility for their own actions.

Florida got enough of a bad image when the world thought we stole the election for George Bush.  As Chairman Greer said, “It’s time to set the record straight.”

Barbara Howard is president of Barbara Howard & Associates and the Florida state chair for C.O.R.E. (the Congress of Racial Equality).