The Free Republic and the Bush twins

Will Jenna become the poster girl for lowering the legal drinking age? Plus: The GOP begins a new fundraising pitch. And: More on the Fox flame wars.

Published May 30, 2001 5:19PM (EDT)

Big buzz

For our roundup of what to make of the latest Bush daughter alcohol bust, we turn to our distinguished panelists at the Free Republic. Let's join the conversation already in progress ...

"Even though all the clymers in the media like to make every little thing she does a scandal, she still parties on. That's what I call good old fashioned American persistence. I'm not being the least sarcastic. I applaud and admire her efforts to lead a normal life, which, despite what some people think, involves a little fun. I hope the leads to reconsideration of the stupid 21 year old drinking age, which was imposed by the federal leviathan, something none of us should support."

("Clymer," for those not in the know, has been a Free Republic insult ever since George Bush's open-mike assessment of the New York Times' Adam Clymer.)

Others suggested Jenna would be the perfect poster child for a national crusade to lower the drinking age. Certainly, that's just what the president and first lady want.

"If you old enough to fight for your country (18,) pay taxes (at birth), and drive (anywhere from 14-18, depending on the State) you should be old enough to drink," one poster writes.

While most in the thread rallied to Jenna's defense, another Free Republic member called for equality when it comes to how the Freepers handle first children.

"I'm sick and tired of people here giving the Bush sisters a bye, while they bash the Clinton's daughter for the same thing. Chelsea is of legal age to pound shots. C'mon people. Be fair."


Andrew Sullivan: "The Evil of Saving Lives"
Kaus Files: "Why Liberal Democrats Should Love Bush's Budget" "Silence of the Media Lambs"
BuzzFlash Report: "Bush's Ship of Fools Gets Hijacked by the Taliban"
WorldNet Daily: "Echelon Spies Reading Your Personal E-Mails"

Anger management

Well, that didn't take long. Faster than you can say "Majority Leader Tom Daschle," Republicans are using Jim Jeffords' party jump as a tool to raise money. Take this fundraising letter that was released by Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee:

Thursday I launched the National Republican Senatorial Committee's (NRSC)"Regain the Senate Majority" campaign with an email to thousands of Republican activists nationwide. The response has been overwhelming.

As Chairman of the NRSC I have been charged by my colleagues with regaining Majority control of the Senate. I am writing you to see if you would be willing to help me in my mission. Please ask your friends, family, and co-workers to go online today and become involved in our efforts to "Regain the Senate Majority."

Jim Jeffords' switch to Independent/Democrat has jeopardized President Bush's agenda and his judicial nominees. If you are committed to seeing REAL change in Washington, and support President Bush's agenda for education reform, tax cuts, a stronger military and wish to safeguard Medicare and Social Security from the budget-busting instincts of the Democrats, I urge you to support the NRSC today by informing your friends of our campaign.

President Bush has already made tremendous progress. I am committed to ensuring the 2002 Senate elections give President Bush the votes he needs to enact his agenda.

Thank you for your support.

Senator Bill First, MD
Chairman, NRSC

But some folks at the Free Republic are holding onto their wallets, for now. "Not a chance until Vacant Lott is out. I'll donate directly to local and national Senate candidates, but not to the Committee. I don't want any of my money going to the next Jim Jeffords (ie. Lincoln Chafee, Arlen MacSpecter, John McLame-ass)," writes one poster.

Frist got another vote of no confidence from a different poster, who writes: "This schmuck is my senator. Notice the MD after his name? Well Doctor Frist is a proponent of Hillary Care. He has enabled a budget crisis as well as a health care crisis in his home state by him and Fred going to HFCA and begging for Hillary Care continuation and funding. He is as well the sponsor of the HMO liability cap bill or the Patients Bill of Rights as he tries to call it that Bush endorses. I thought this administration didn't believe in caps? He's as phoney as Fred Thompson. Strange also is the fact the Frist family fortune comes from the health care industry."

They're still drinking champagne on the other side, where a new Web site called Support the Switch has popped up in the last few days.

Meanwhile, speculation continues that the Jeffords switch may cause ripples through the Senate. "It would be a relief to Strom Thurmond, I'm sure," writes one Table Talker. "He could hang up his diaper, stay at home, and drool at his leisure."

And speaking of angry Democrats, many are still smoldering from the General Accounting Office's report on alleged White House vandalism that essentially exonerated outgoing Clinton staffers, who were accused by Republicans of trashing the place.

The leftist gadflies at MediaWhores Online urged readers to e-mail Fox CEO and chairman Roger Ailes, blasting the Fox News Channel's reporters who they say fanned the flames of the White House vandalism story.

"Demand an apology to the Clintons, the Gores, and the American people for his network's careless and irresponsible lies," MWO requested.

Several readers did just that, including Vern Morrison. Hours later, Morrison received an e-mail from Fox that was inadvertently sent to all of the flamers:

From: Girdon, Jennifer
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2001 4:03 PM
To: Klosterman, Madeline
Cc: [long list of e-mail addresses]
Here are all the crazies so far! :)

That touched off a new wave of hate mail to Fox, including including one a reader named Anne who uses the online moniker "Dogfolks":

From: Dogfolks
To: Roger Alias
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 3:03 PM

Mr. Ailes,

I'm just another one of the "crazies" out here. You've reported, and I've decided that calling what you report the "news" is really just another pile of steaming right-wing propaganda.

Any organization who has to begin and end every news report with "Fair and balanced, as always" must be trying to convince themselves more than anyone else. Besides, just listening to the drek you put out, anyone with more than a modicum of intelligence can tell that it's not fair, and in no way balanced. Your guys at a "roundtable" discussion sound more like a bunch of teen-aged high school football fans on public access, extolling the virtues of their team, and mocking the other -- as well as the other team's female relatives. It's as plain as that big fat nose on your face!

Crazy for ever,

That earned this response from Ailes himself:

From: Cirrincione, Brigette
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 10:24 AM
Subject: e-mail from Roger Ailes


You never even saw the report. You are simply a robot reacting to a "hit advisory" from a left wing website. Get a life a job or a television set before making incorrect and moronic criticism.

Roger Ailes (dictated but not read)

Other letter writers say they, too, have received responses from Ailes, dictated but not read.

One sent his response, but not his original letter. "As for what I wrote, well I cannot quite remember. I admit to have a couple of drinks before I wrote the letter ... I believe I used the word 'whore' and possibly something along the lines of 'you piece of shit,'" he wrote.

Whatever it was reportedly earned this response:

You obviously have a gift for language as well as a fair and unbiased mind. We did correct the story but that won't matter to you. Your tiny little bigoted mind appears to be made up. Thanks for you letter. Keep watching.

Roger Ailes (dictated but not read)

An e-mailer under the name Thunderbol666 earned only a trite reply, after essentially calling Ailes a Nazi and demanding an apology for Fox News' anti-Clinton coverage.

Your letter is sick. See a psychiatrist.

Roger Ailes (dictated but not read)

For more Red vs. Blue, click here.

Submit your own rant or direct us to a good political online discussion by e-mailing us at, or jump right into a Table Talk discussion about Red vs. Blue.

By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

MORE FROM Anthony York

Related Topics ------------------------------------------