Excerts are from news story by Cynthia
Tucker who is an editor of The Atlanta Constitution's editorial page.
When Newt Gingrich announced his resignation, he said he
was leaving so the Democrats
would not be able to use him as the poster boy for Republican excess. That reasoning
suggested that Gingrich was the only GOP figure with a persona guaranteed to chill voters,
frighten small children and upset family pets.
Gingrich was well-known for his oversize ego and strident partisanship, traits given
heightened scrutiny because of his post as speaker of the House. But he was by no means
the scariest Republican in Congress. If Gingrich wanted to shed his party of a frightening
extremist (and there are several), he should have taken Georgia Rep. Bob Barr with him.
At the moment, Barr is the Democrats' best ally. He is doing all he can to ensure that the
GOP never becomes the nation's majority party. When he is not rabidly insisting on the
impeachment of President Clinton--a position soundly rejected by a majority of
Americans--he is insulting gays or members of ethnic minority groups.
Barr's latest caper is a twofer: He found the opportunity to insult AIDS sufferers while
also interfering with the voting rights of the citizens of a municipality that happens to
be predominately black: Washington. It is just the sort of maneuver that Barr has made his
specialty: a stunt that accomplishes nothing except to alienate a sizable portion of the
On Nov. 3, Washington residents joined voters in five states in voting on referendums that
would legalize the medical use of marijuana for patients suffering from cancer, AIDS or
glaucoma. The district's ballot initiative resulted from a campaign by Wayne Turner and
his partner, Steve Michael, who died of AIDS in May.
But Turner and other Washington residents still do not know for sure how the referendum
fared (though exit polls suggest it passed overwhelmingly). Back during the negotiations
over the federal budget in the fall, Barr had attached an amendment to a Washington
appropriations bill that barred its Board of Elections from spending any money to count
the votes from the referendum. (Supporters of the referendum figure that cost at about
Later, Barr mocked the district's voters: "Is there
legitimate speculation to think, given Marion Barry's history and the liberal leanings of
D.C. voters, that they've decided to fight drugs?"
Funny thing is, Barr did not make similar comments about the voters of Alaska, Arizona,
Oregon, Nevada and Washington state, who also approved medical marijuana initiatives on
Nov. 3. Is there legitimate speculation to think, given Barr's history, that he would
stifle the democratic process only in a city that is largely black?
The American Civil Liberties Union has gone to court to force the district to announce the
results of the referendum, a lawsuit that has also attracted the support of the
Libertarian Party. That may be enough to stop this small bit of Barr tyranny, but the
nation must depend on the voters of Georgia's 7th Congressional District to ultimately rid
the nation of this plague.
Fortunately, there are glimmers of hope there as well. Although the 7th District is an
overwhelmingly conservative piece of real estate stretching from Atlanta's western suburbs
to the Alabama line, the Nov. 3 election results show a constituency less than enamored of
the incumbent. Barr's Democratic opponent, Jim Williams, was a pleasant but unimpressive
candidate -little-known and underfinanced - who listed the names of his pets in his
campaign literature. He still pulled in 45 percent of the vote.
That was a result that Barr could not conceal from more realistic contenders who might be
eyeing his seat.
To write a letter to Congressman Bob Barr,
click on his photo and send mail to the following address:
Congressman Bob Barr's Guestbook