Katherine Harris, woman of the year?

Plus: Barbra Streisand lashes out at Democrats; Peggy Noonan says class warfare works; are Democrats calling for a flat tax?

By Anthony York
Published April 2, 2001 8:12PM (EDT)

Anger management

Perhaps the most discussed story online Monday has been the Roll Call piece on a memo sent from Barbra Streisand to Democratic lawmakers, urging them to take their gloves off.

"We have a President who stole the presidency through family ties, arrogance and intimidation, employing Republican operatives to exercise the tactics of voter fraud by disenfranchising thousands of blacks, elderly Jews and other minorities," Streisand writes. "Why be afraid to speak out and remind the public of what happened last November? Maybe it's because some of you are up for reelection and, therefore, might be afraid to rock the boat. Well, I disagree. Rocking the boat is what wins elections!"

Net-bound liberals greeted the memo with boisterous cheers. "I read the memo in its entirety this past weekend. It was eloquent, direct, and very sorely needed," writes one poster at SmirkingChimp.com. "I hope the Dems take it to heart."

"Barbra's memo is fabulous," gushes one Table Talker. "What a fantastic way to use celebrity clout -- in the service of truth, justice and peace."

But a poster on Plastic.com makes this interesting argument: "If the Democrats are down to taking advice on politics from Streisand, then they are screwed."

Most others in the Plastic thread were surprisingly unsympathetic to the Streisand clarion call. "She's a f***ing singer," writes one. "There is not one good reason to care what she has to say. Breaking news: being famous does not mean you have a clue. Just a contract."

The criticism was even nastier on the conservative sites. "Somebody throw that dog a bone and maybe it'll shut up," writes a poster at Lucianne.com. "Barbra is as crazy as Barbara Boxer," writes a Freeper.


Drudge Report: "Report: Plane Issued 'Mayday' After Chinese Fighter Jets Signaled They Would Open Fire"
Peggy Noonan: "Class Warfare Works -- But Only Against Country-Club Republicans"
Online Journal: "C-SPAN Airs Freeper's February Freak-Out; Katherine Harris to Headline June Fracas"
PoliticalUSA.com: "Lethal Speech: A Court Errs in Permitting Anti-Abortion Threats on the Web"
Tom Paine.com: "The Democrats Go Flat?"

Big buzz

There was no shortage of online venom when Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris announced she would host a gathering of Free Republic members in June. Harris' decision was not received well by Online Journal columnist Pam Parker.

"Yo, Katherine!" she writes. "You tried so hard to appear above the partisan fray. You announced an ambitious overhaul of Florida elections. You did the Today show, and Hannity & Colmes. Conservative groups are feting you on your current rehabilitation tour. You're even being chatted up as a candidate for national office. But, oops, big time. You agreed to headline the June meeting of Free Republic in South Carolina. You're tagged, again, as just a mean-spirited partisan hack."

The gathering is being held in Seabrook Island, S.C., where Harris will be awarded the Freepers' Public Servant of the Year award.

"She showed great strength under incredible circumstances. A lesser person -- male or female -- would have fallen to the pressure the media and liberals were putting on her. I admire her greatly," writes one F.R. Harris booster.

Apparently, Harris' award was never in doubt. "The only question is ... will the standing ovation given to Katherine Harris meet or exceed that given to Linda Tripp last year?" asks another Freeper.

But liberals caution that the appearance may not be a great career move for Harris. "Someone has to talk to this woman's PR flak," writes Joshua Micah Marshall, who says Harris is interested in running for Congress in 2002. "Anyway, if she wants to make it in mainstream politics, should she really be giving the headline speech at the annual South Carolina Free Republic hoedown? I mean, I think she's pretty much got the right-wing freak demographic nailed down, no?"

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Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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