Simply by being too activist, too extreme, the liberal-left can blow the election of 2008
just as other movements have done in years past. A New York Times full-page ad sponsored by MoveOn.org strayed from merely opposing the Iraq war to assailing Gen. David Petraeus as General Betray-Us before the highly decorated general even had the opportunity to officially deliver his long awaited report on the war. The extremism of MoveOn and the belligerence of The Daily Kos blog will paint themselves as disloyal and anti-patriotic which could carry over to the Democratic partys presidential campaign in 2008.
No one doubts that it is legitimateeven mandatorythat Gen. Petraeus and the Bush administration be examined on progress of the war. The time has long passed in the conduct of this war and any other when congressmen should be dazzled by four-stars on military shoulder-straps. But the attack ad
aided by its outrageous acceptance for publication by The Times
is a coarse, sophomoric and emotionally unstable, deliriously unbalanced argument. The Times has gone beyond the edge of conducting responsible debate. In many aspects, the frantic left and the paleo-right seem to join hands in their more lunatic moments when both claim that the Sept. 11 attacks could well have been spurred by the Bush administration. The candidate of the paleos, Rep. Ron Paul, has shown himself on occasion to be irresponsible and mal-informed on foreign policy as when he insisted, contrary to any evidence, that our involvement in the Middle East precipitated the attacks
and when he was stumped by the astute questioning of the talk show host Michael Medved. Just as MoveOn is intellectually bankrupt, the writings of Pat Buchanan and (until he retired for reasons of ill health) Joe Sobran have often contained ranting of the unsupportable fantasy.
The entire history of the United States has shown that basically good movements have been jeopardized by the extremism of some of their adherents. Fear of an all-powerful central government led none other than Patrick Henry to oppose the U. S. Constitution and reaction produced was centralization. Extreme abolitionism crested with William Lloyd Garrison who urged the burning of the Constitution because in the effort to get it enacted, a provision was made for slavery. Ignatius V. Donnelly with his Populist Party bred a nativism that long postponed responsible reform. William Jennings Bryan delayed passage of certain moderate laws affecting the rights of labor by his goofy support of free silver. The temperance movement lost its crusading zeal when he unwisely secured passage of the Prohibition amendment and the cause of moderation in drink was seriously compromised. There was a legitimate role for the America First committee to oppose our entry into World War II but it was blasted away by Charles Lindberghs and Fr. Charles Coughlins excursions into anti-Semitism.
The move to embrace civil rights was immeasurably harmed by its extremistsStokely Carmichaels support of Black Power, Eldridge Cleavers Soul on Ice which advocated violence, Malcolm Xs inspired hatred of whitey continuing on through Jesse L. Jacksons more lurid and anti-Semitic statements (New York city being Hymie-town) and Al Sharptons demagoguery. Even espousal of the free market was jolted by Ayn Rand Objectivists who espoused the cause of selfishness.
The pro-life movement was harmed by zealots including a well meaning marching lady named Nellie Grey who terms compromise as sellout and purposely fails to apply the political process to this problem despite her own extensive participation in the process. One must wonder if ego hasnt overtaken her senses. She and some others earlier resisted any attempt to compromise between varied proposed constitutional amendments, opposing the one version that conceivably can passthe states rights version.
The move to respect individual rights in sexual orientation has led gay and lesbian organizations to ride roughshod over most of the trembling Democratic candidates for president who put on a sorry spectacle in a recent debate to pander to this group. The height of ludicrosity was caused by the rock and folk singer Melissa Etheridge, a proclaimed lesbian, who attacked Gov. Richardson (D-N.M) because he denied that homosexuality was a congenital condition (the popular view of the gay rights crowd). The fact that Ms. Etheridges former lover (with whom they conceived a child through sperm donation) made a choice to leave her and marry a man evidently cuts no ice with her.
The zanyness goes on and on. Now legitimate concern about undeclared war has tripped a wire that spurs the Blame America crowd and a yen for isolationism that exceeds even those measures pursued by Presidents William Howard Taft, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge. But is must be conceded that, for the most part, the Republican party has resisted the extremist surge on most issues but the Democrats seemingly cannot disentangle themselves from The Daily Kos and MoveOn.org. There is a fascination of the liberal left with extremismand it flies like a moth very near the burning flame of repudiation. If the Democratic party cannot resist the flame, it will cause its hopes for the presidency in 2008 to perish just as it did when George McGovern alienated the partys blue-collar patriotic base, carrying Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. As a good Republican partisan, I welcome the Democrats going down in flames in 2008
but as a good American, I want to see a Democratic party prosper along sound and moderate lines so as to make it worthy on occasion to relieve the Republican party when it gets fatiguedas it very nearly is today.
The purpose of my long essays on the differences between Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy
boring to so many but intended as a repository for whenever my children and grandchildren choose to read it
is to show how bad personal motivation aided by bad (if I may say so) modernist theology (in and outside of my own church) can be very dangerous for this country and its polity. You will see two legitimate political opportunists vying for their partys nominationone who sought to pursue acceptably moderate ends and another who badly (and possibly intentionally) misused theology for his personal ends. The large scale l radicalization of the Democratic party (which I mourn) stems from that battle of two very different men from the same party and the same state.
In summary: if The New York Times possesses any vestige of decency, it will apologize for running an unpatriotic ad that besmirches a fine American general. Unfortunately, smug in its elitism, the paper will likely refuse to do so on the spurious grounds that it has no responsibility to curtail un-American diatribes. Thus has the left sunk to nihilism
to be joined in this morass by certain loud, unscholarly and vehement elements of the rightsome of whom occasionally write comments in capital letters on this web-site and have difficulty restraining themselves from personal abuse.