Boring Speech Frenzies Collinson, But What About the Brooks Brothers Riot?

CNN’s article, “Trump unleashes new threat to American democracy,” sounds like an article from a high school newspaper (no offense to high schoolers): “Donald Trump has no remorse about the deadly violence he incited with his lies about a stolen election in his uprising against the US Congress. […] In his first public remarks since leaving the White House, he…dangerously lashed out at Supreme Court justices for failing to intervene to throw him the election he clearly lost to President Joe Biden…. …Trump fumed in an authoritarian speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in Orlando, Florida, referring to false fraud claims thrown out by multiple judges.”

Note that he refers to the president as the “ex-president,” when the norm has always been to refer to a president, vice-president, or senator by the honorific title after they leave office. We don’t talk about “ex-president Roosevelt” or “ex-president Reagan” or even “ex-president Nixon.”

Is this the level at which Stephen Collinson actually thinks or is this propaganda aimed at an audience CNN presumes to have the intellectual capacity of the average eight-year old? I listened to Trump’s speech. It was a policy speech and terribly boring. Trump is always boring when he gives this type of speech. His speech on January speech, which detailed voting irregularities, was also boring. Trump is no Reagan. He doesn’t fly at 30,000 feet. He’s Castro-lite. He so drones on. And where is the historical context in Collinson’s “analysis”?

Look at that first sentence. “Donald Trump has no remorse about the deadly violence he incited with his his lies about a stolen election in his uprising.” Why would a president have remorse over something he did not do? He did not incite violence. The second impeachment was as bogus as the first one. The Democrats are using impeachment as a political weapon, not as a legitimate constitutional process. Trump told the crowd to peacefully and patriotic walk to the Capitol and let their voices be heard. Since there is a lot of evidence of election irregularities and fraud, the president wasn’t lying. And to call the actions of gangs of professional disrupters the president’s uprising is absurd. The president wanted the electoral process to go back to the states where there were problems. Millions of Americans wanted that, too. That’s not an uprising. That’s what democracy looks like. It’s what speech and assembly look like.

The next sentences have Collinson claiming the president “dangerously lashed out” at the Supreme Court, that he wanted the Supreme Court to “throw him the election.”

Let’s consult history. Recall that on December 8, 2000, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount of all undervotes. The machines had missed more than 60 thousand ballots. That’s a lot of votes. The Republican candidate, George W. Bush, was only winning by fewer than 600 votes. The Bush campaign requested that the Court intervene and stay the state court’s decision. The campaign did not want those votes counted. They knew Bush would lose. The next day, the Court granted the stay.

On what grounds did the Court stay the state court’s decision? Conservative justice Scalia cited “irreparable harm” to the presidency if the recount proceeded. The recounts would cast “a needless and unjustified cloud” over the legitimacy of Bush’s presidency. In the dissent, liberal justice Stevens wrote that “counting every legally cast vote cannot constitute irreparable harm.” (That’s what Trump was seeking, by the way, namely counting every legally cast ballot.) There were arguments and, in the end, Bush prevailed on constitutional grounds: hand counting votes violated equal protection since the other votes had been machine counted. In other words, the Supreme Court threw the election to the loser, Bush, who then proceeded to fill his administration with war hawks and launch disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet in 2020 and 2021, courts did not intervene in circumstances clearly violative of equal protection.

Of course the Democratic candidate in 2000, vice-president Al Gore wanted the Supreme Court to rule in his favor, to allow the counting of every lawful vote to continue, to determine who actually won Florida (analysis shows that Gore did, in fact, win the election). Did Gore want the Court to “throw him the election”? Presumably CNN would think so, as it appeared to all the world that, given the way they covered the election, the establishment media wanted Bush to be president.

So Bush can beseech the Supreme Court to intervene in an election but Trump cannot? What if the Court had ruled against Bush in 2000-01? What if the votes were counted and Gore turned out to be the winner (only Florida stood in his way to presidency). Would this have cast a “a needless and unjustified cloud” over “the legitimacy of the presidency”? Would this have constituted “a threat to democracy”? If Bush were displeased with that outcome, would this make him “dangerous”? After all, Bush tried to thwart democracy by trying to the counting of lawful votes. Indeed, he succeeded.

Wait, there’s more. Remember the Brooks Brothers riot? A lot of you won’t because the establishment media didn’t toss it into their echo chamber. I remember it. It was caught on video (of course, as we saw in 2020-21, you do not see things caught on video if it does not fit with the official narrative).

2000 Florida recount: How the 'Brooks Brothers Riot' killed the Bush-Gore  recount in Miami - The Washington Post

On November 22, 2000, at a meeting of election canvassers in Miami-Dade County, Florida, a mob, with paid Republican operatives participating, orchestrated a riot with the goal of shutting down the recount. It was none other than John Sweeney (R-NY), who gave the signal to stat the riot. “Shut it down,” he instructed an aide. And so they did. The violence persuaded local officials to shut down the recount. The Washington Post wondered in 2018, “Eighteen years after a chaotic recount, debate still rages over whether the antics went too far.” Did they go too far? Let’s review:

It was clear that the media was in the tank for Bush in 2000-01, just as it was clear that the media was all in for Biden in 2020-21. Gore and Trump were insufficiently establishment. The power elite did not trust them. Gore wanted to secure entitlements by putting the budget surplus in a “lockbox,” a term the media relentless mocked him over. Wall Street wanted that money. The defense industry wanted that money. (Bush gave it to them and was guaranteed reelection, Ohio notwithstanding.) Trump was too critical of China, globalism, and military intervention. He had to go. He was a “threat to democracy.”

CNN played a chief role in engineering elections of establishment figures. To be sure, 2016 caught them by surprise. But the establishment media was ready for 2000. Now they have to undermine the legitimacy of Trump in case he or some other populist runs for president, hence the constant repetition of “lies” and “danger.” They are working to similarly delegitimize other populists seeking office. Understand that CNN is not down with American first and working class politics. CNN, and the rest of the establishment media, is the propaganda arm of global corporatist power.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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