Monday, March 29, 2004
Democrats In Decline [UPDATED]

I know, I know: I just linked to a slew of posts by PowerLine last night, and now I'm going to send you to one more; but hey, can I help it if these guys do good work?

Reprinted in Front Page Magazine Online, John "Hindrocket" Hinderaker's examination of certain "BUSH LIED1!!1!" claims provides us with yet more depressing news about the Democratic Party.

To an extent that, in my judgment, has no precedent in American history, the contemporary Democratic party has defined itself as a party of hate. The current frenzy over the self-contradictory and in some instances patently false claims of Richard Clarke has shown the Democrats at their most vituperative.

A case in point is Paul Begala's hysterical attack on Condoleezza Rice yesterday on CNN's Crossfire...


Some will defend Begala on the ground that he is mentally unbalanced, and argue that his type of fanaticism does not typify the Democratic Party. But I cannot agree. Begala seems to me to be typical of the modern Democratic Party--a party that makes Joe McCarthy look calm, reasonable and scrupulous.
Begala and his Democratic co-host James Carville were the two primary political strategists that Bill Clinton worked with to secure his two Presidential terms. Before now, though I have disagreed with him on the issues, I have always viewed him as a reasonable, intelligent foil for Tucker Carlson and Robert Novak. His record on and approaches to the issues have convinced me that Mr. Begala is politically nowhere near the 'fringe.'

Liberals often discount and deride conservatives (and vice versa) for 'using the lunatic fringe to discredit the reasonable moderates.' While I won't deny that some have done this in the past (and continue to do so in the present), as I read the evidence, I am becoming more and more convinced that the 'lunatic fringe' and the 'moderate Democrats' aren't so far apart. Begala certainly doesn't classify as an extremist, and given that he was influential in the Clinton adminstration (which really, politically, was full of rather centrist positions), I'd be hard pressed to classify him as anything other than a 'moderate.'

Evan Coyne Maloney, over at Brain Terminal, has gone out among the throngs of protestors - many of whom refer to themselves as moderate - and has video-recorded his interviews. For those who claim that the Left isn't represented by 'crazy protestors,' his footage provides startling evidence to the contrary.

Why is this depressing? Because, like every good democracy, we need a reasonable alternative. Though I may disagree with the theoretical positions of those who are more Left-leaning than I, I recognize the vital role they fill (as I hope they recognize the vital role people sharing my opinions fill). A system run without debate is a system prone to dreadful mistakes. So yes, I fervently wish that the Democrats would 'snap out of it,' and get back to their moderate roots; not because I agree with them, but because we need reasoned, rational debate on the issues, in order to get them right.

It's getting more and more crowded out there 'on the fringe' of late, and that is not a good thing.

[NOTE: The article is also printed at Real Clear Politics, and was originally posted here -- Ed.]

Ron Rosenbaum of the New York Observer explains why he "said goodbye" to the Left two years ago, and provides analysis as to what's wrong [emphasis in original]:
[German philosopher Martin] Heidegger's peculiar neutrality-slash-denial about Nazism and the Holocaust after the facts had come out, and the contemporary Left's curious neutrality-slash-denial after the facts had come out about Marxist genocides - in Russia, in China, in Cambodia, after 20 million, 50 million, who knows how many millions had been slaughtered. Not all of the Left; many were honorable opponents. But for many others, it just hasn't registered, it just hasn't been incorporated into their "analysis" of history and human nature; it just hasn't been factored in. America is still the one and only evil empire. The silence of the Left, or the exclusive focus of the Left, on America's alleged crimes over the past half-century, the disdainful sneering at America's deplorable "Cold War mentality" - none of this has to be reassessed in light of the evidence of genocides that surpassed Hitler's, all in the name of a Marxist ideology. An ideology that doesn't need to be reassessed. As if it was maybe just an accident that Marxist-Leninist regimes turned totalitarian and genocidal. No connection there. The judgment that McCarthyism was the chief crime of the Cold War era doesn't need a bit of a rethink, even when put up against the mass murder of dissidents by Marxist states.

The point is, all empires commit crimes; in the past century, ours were by far the lesser of evils. But this sedulous denial of even the possibility of misjudgment in the hierarchy of evils protects and insulates this wing of the Left from an inconvenient reconsideration of whether America actually is the worst force on the planet. This blind spot, this stunning lack of historical perspective, robs much of the American Left of intellectual credibility. And makes it easy for idiocies large and small to be uttered reflexively.


[A] year later, it seems that despite Mr. [Christopher] Hitchens and a few other voices, such as Todd Gitlin's, the blind-spot types have won out on the Left - the blind spot to Marxist genocide obscuring any evil but America's. You could see it at the Sheeps Meadow. You can see it in the hysterical seizure on Enron and other corporate scandals: See, we were right all along - corporations and businessmen are (surprise!) greedheads. This excuses averting their eyes from anti-American terrorism - from people and regimes preparing to kill Americans rather than merely diminish their 401(k)'s. Enron was the fig leaf many on the American Left needed to return to their customary hatred of America. Because America isn't perfect, it must be evil. Because Marxist regimes make claims of perfection, they must be good.
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