August 16, 2006
Aren’t as Crazy As Your Crazies
Joseph Lieberman was defeated in the Connecticut Democratic Senate
primary by businessman Ned Lamont, the spin from the right was
predictable: “The crazies have ‘hijacked’ the Democratic Party!” The
counterspin from Democrats, of course, was just as predictable: “The
crazies already have taken over the Republican Party!”
started with a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece on August 8 by
former Clinton White House lawyer Lanny Davis, who campaigned in
on Lieberman’s behalf. Davis wrote about some of the extreme rhetoric
coming from Lamont supporters, including several anti-Semitic comments
about Lieberman that were posted on liberal blogs.
some conservatives an opportunity to make the entire anti-Lieberman
effort look like a Jew-bashing conspiracy, with Bill O’Reilly, on his
radio show, going so far as to ask why the New York Times and
other media outlets hadn’t given the blog comments as much attention as
they gave the similar, Jew-bashing rant by Mel Gibson.
the Huffington Post commenter who accused Lieberman of belonging
to the “Israel Lobby,” doesn’t have nearly the personal notoriety of an
international film star seemed beside the point. But in these days of
partisan warfare, this sort of stuff has become common.
parties are more hunkered down than ever and full of voices who blast
the other side mercilessly, whether it’s from blogs, cable news,
newspapers, everyday conversation or even the halls of Congress. And
it’s an endless cycle: someone on one side can accuse members of the
other of “mean-spiritedness,” “partisanship,” “name-calling,” and
“personal attacks”- while, in the process, engaging in all four
end up with an argument over which side has more crazies on it, how much
power the crazies have and how close to the leaders of the party those
crazies are. Millions of conservatives bought the latest book by that
lunatic Ann Coulter – but the clearly crazy Howard Dean is chairman of
the Democratic National Committee! Michael Moore sat next to Jimmy
Carter at the Democratic National Convention - but he wouldn’t have had
the ear of the president in a Kerry Administration, while James Dobson
does in the Bush Administration!
Abramoff scandal has ensnared numerous Republican members of Congress
and other major conservative movement figures - but Democrat William
Jefferson had $90,000 in bribes in his fridge! Mel Gibson was busted
for drunken driving - but so was Patrick Kennedy! Democrats “politicize
our national security” by talking about it on the campaign trail - but
Republicans had a convention in 2004 that may as well have been
subtitled “We Love 9/11!”
over which side is more dominated by extremists is, at heart, a stupid
one. Both sides have way too many people that argue in bad faith and
traffic in hateful, partisan and extreme behavior and rhetoric. And on
both sides, those people have way too much power. But if one party is 20
percent crazy and the other party is 22 percent crazy, that isn’t a
particularly meaningful distinction.
mention, both sides are so eager to prove the other side wrong that they
resort to straw-man arguments. This is why you see Fox News going after
people like Michael Moore and obscure college professors. It’s easier to
discredit liberalism by drawing an absurd caricature, as opposed to
arguing with it as it is. Ditto for liberals who pretend that the
obscure Christian Reconstructionist movement holds some sort of magical
sway over the Republican Party. Or those who throw the word “neocon”
around without knowing anything about what it means.
leads to layer upon layer of hypocrisy, which folds continuously upon
itself. An intriguing new book, Jeremy Lott’s In Defense of Hypocrisy,
attempts to get to the bottom of all this.
this is an understandable temptation. To any committed believer in
conservative principles, liberalism looks wrong, whether it’s the far
left or mainstream liberalism itself. And it can be hard for a liberal
to see the difference between the different types of conservatism, to
see the difference between, say, David Brooks and Tim LaHaye. It’s all
the “other” to most people who follow politics in this country. It
should be incumbent upon every citizen to learn what everyone on every
side really believes, and make electoral decisions accordingly.
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