- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 22, 2000

"Where's the outrage?" Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole repeatedly demanded to know in October 1996, as the details of the Clinton-Gore administration's massive fund-raising scandal first surfaced in the waning days of the campaign.

Well, where's the outrage now? Four years later, Vice President Al Gore is clawing his way to the presidency over the discarded absentee ballots of hundreds and hundreds of American soldiers and sailors serving overseas. These are the men and women who place their lives in jeopardy on a daily basis not only to protect America's vital interests around the world but also to perform the work of Mr. Gore's ill-advised "nation-building" schemes.

Indeed, less than six weeks ago 12 young sailors paid the ultimate price. It was Oct. 12. Middle East terrorists blew a gaping hole in the USS Cole while it was refueling in Yemen en route to the Persian Gulf to protect America's indispensable oil supplies and to enforce sanctions against the rogue state of Iraq.

Over the weekend and away from the cameras, the presidential campaign of Mr. Gore, the would-be commander in chief, waged a highly coordinated, successful ground campaign throughout Florida's 67 counties to disenfranchise as many overseas military personnel as possible.

Now, to fully appreciate what is going on here, consider the following thought experiment: It could well have happened that, before sacrificing their lives for their country, those sailors on the USS Cole had completed absentee ballots registering their votes for president. Because mail sent by Navy personnel frequently lacks postage, and thus a postmark, one of those ballots theoretically could have arrived in Florida without the postmark mandated by Florida law. If so, it would have been met by an army of Democratic lawyers, some of whom had responded to an urgent e-mail request throughout the country urging them to swarm to Florida on behalf of Mr. Gore.

There can be no doubt what the Gore lawyers' intentions were. Indeed, last Wednesday Mark Herron, a Tallahassee-based attorney, wrote a five-page letter and addressed it to "FDP [Florida Democratic Party] Lawyer." The letter was a de facto how-to guide for protesting overseas ballots. It specifically addressed military ballots and focused at length about the state mandate for military postmarks, which, as it happens, are not required by federal law. The St. Petersburg Times reported that Democratic lawyers arrived five days early in socially conservative Escambia County, the home of Pensacola Naval Air Station, bearing laptop computers and a "do-or-die fervor." Their mission clearly was to suppress overseas military ballots. Columnist Robert Novak recently quoted from a memo written by Brevard County Republican Chairman Ray Marino, who had just spent nearly eight hours inspecting overseas ballots: "Gore had five attorneys there. Their sole objective was to disenfranchise the military absentee votes. They challenged each and every vote."

Until now, it was virtually impossible to believe that Vice President Gore could have more cavalierly betrayed the interests of American military men and women than they were by President Clinton, who once discussed on the phone with a senior Republican lawmaker the life-and-death issue of dispatching thousands of American soldiers to the Balkans while he was receiving oral sex from a White House intern. Through his recent actions Mr. Gore has accomplished the unthinkable: He has trumped Bill Clinton in his contempt for the men and women who keep us free.

Where's the outrage?

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