Comparing conservatives to Hitler is old-and-busted. The new hotness, if you ask Martin Bashir, is comparing them to Stalin.
A few months ago, you may recall, Bashir compared Rick Santorum to the long-dead Soviet dictator. Now it's the state of Florida, more specifically, the conservative Republican Rick Scott, who is getting the honors. "Why is the Sunshine State in the midst of a purge that even Josef Stalin would admire?" Bashir rhetorically asked on the way out to an ad break on today's program. The "purge," by the way, is one admitted by a Democratic official in Broward County, Florida, to be "very, very microscopic" in nature. [video follows page break]
Coming back from commercial, Bashir teamed up with Democratic strategist Julian Epstein and liberal Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson to slam the Florida governor as setting out to disenfranchise Democratic voters. Bashir also had conservative columnist S.E. Cupp on for reaction, but he refused to allow her to make her points, cutting her off mid-sentence as she charged that President Obama was "desperate" to retain minority voters by hyping allegations of voter disenfranchisement.
Bashir and company ran with a Miami Herald story that spotlighted a 91-year-old World War II veteran who was sent a letter by Broward County (Fla.) officials that questioned whether he was eligible to vote. Bill Internicola, who was awarded the Bronze Star for his bravery in battle, "one of many innocent victims in Gov. Rick Scott's purge meant to reduce voter rolls in advance of November elections," Bashir insisted.
But a review of the Herald article itself makes abundantly clear the "purge" is anything but. Only 2600 notices were sent to voters who were believed to be noncitizens erroneously on the voter rolls. That amounts to a puny 0.023 percent of the state's 11,323,464 currently-registered voters (see Florida Division of Elections website here).
Initially, according to the Miami Herald, the state had flagged some 180,000 potential noncitizens, but confirmed the citizenship disposition of all but 2,600. Even if the full 180,000 had been served notices, that would have been just 1.59 percent of voters put in danger of being unable to vote, again, hardly "purge" territory.
What's more, persons receiving those notices, "have 30 days from the receipt of the letter to provide documentation of citizenship or they will be removed from the rolls." A true "purge" would be automatic and without avenue for appeal, which this is not.
What's more, for his part, Mr. Internicola has actually proven his citizenship, but as the Herald reports, there was reason for the state to have been suspicious in the first place. It turns out he lied about his year of birth many decades ago when first getting his driver's license:
Broward voting records show that Internicola registered in 1991 and has been a frequent voter — including the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections — and in at least a couple of municipal elections. He’s a lifelong Democrat.
Internicola admitted to one discrepancy in records. He says he was born in 1921, though he said his drivers’ license indicates 1919. The reason: in his youth he wanted to start driving early so “I bent the truth a little bit.”
So when your birth date on voter rolls doesn't match your birth date on the state's driver's license files, you can expect that there's reason for state officials to be suspicious, no? Of course, Internicola's having lied about his age was not mentioned by Bashir, who practically made it sound like Gov. Scott was personally jonesing to disenfranchise a nonagenarian war hero.
And while Bashir and company were hard at work denouncing the "purge" as a partisan effort, even Democrats on the ground in south Florida admit that the effort was "microscopic" in nature, hardly a grand-scale effort to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters (emphasis mine):
Broward Party’s Democratic chairman Mitch Ceasar said the number on the county’s list — 259 among more than 1 million registered voters in Broward — “is very very microscopic.” But he questioned the action led by Scott’s administration.