Bush Hatred versus Clinton Hatred

November 12, 2004

View From a Height” challenges the Bush-haters’ first line of defense: “You Clinton-haters started it,” by examining the tone of conservative columns following Clinton’s re-election victory in 1996. The unmistakable conclusion: “Bush Hatred Is Different.”

I applaud “View From a Height,” which I learned about from Hugh Hewitt, for taking the trouble to go back and research the matter.

I find the subject intriguing because Democrats, in the last number of years at least, have rushed to assert the puerile, “you did it first” defense every time they get caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They always want to reduce everything to a false moral equivalence and thereby avoid accountability. We saw it with all the allegations about Democratic voter fraud leading up to this election.

The invariable Democratic response to specific charges, based on real evidence of fraud was the generic charge, based on zero evidence, that “Republicans are doing it too.” With that, every non-thinking person is expected to nod his head in agreement as if to say, “Well, you got me there. Everyone’s corrupt in politics, so there is no point in pursuing our complaint against Democrats since Republicans are bound to have engaged in similar misconduct.” It’s maddening to me.

Dems put this technique to especially effective use when they were usurping the president’s judicial appointment power, even to the point of filibuster. When called on it they would always say, “the GOP started it against Bill Clinton.”

The truth is that while Republicans did oppose a number of Clinton’s nominees, the frequency and severity of the obstruction was not comparable. And, though Democrats will never buy this argument, there is a difference between opposing judges because they will not follow the Constitution and opposing judges because they will. That is, I think it is fair play under the advice and consent power, for the opposition party in the Senate to oppose a president’s judicial nominee because he is an activist who will legislate from the bench. That goes to his qualifications.

Conversely, it is wholly inappropriate for an opposition party to block a nominee precisely because he will try to adhere to the Constitution through an original intent approach. So no matter how you cut it, I think Democratic obstruction of President Bush’s nominees has been qualitatively different from the GOP’s opposition to Clinton appointees.

Beyond that, it strikes me as an adolescent knee-jerk reaction for a major political party to always respond with “you did it first.” They aren’t even embarrassed by it, which is in keeping with the level to which the party has descended in a variety of areas since it has become Clintonized.

And there is something else. The liberals, in their 2004 election post-mortem, have been hysterical. Even the most forlorn of conservatives didn’t talk of secession or moving to Canada. As I mentioned in a column last week, even some prominent liberal columnists, such as the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, are lamenting that, “It’s not our America anymore.” I don’t think conservatives during the Clinton era were in that mode. Rather, it was more like: “I can’t believe this rogue won again, but we’ll regain power as soon as the charmer’s out of office.”

With conservatives, there’s never any inclination to give up on America. But with liberals…

And before you libs start accusing me of questioning your patriotism just remember: I’m merely quoting one of your “mainstream” celebrated gurus.