Sucker-Punch Immunity

June 29, 2006

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean was spewing bile again this week, this time at a Sojourners Convention in Washington, D.C., where Dean likened the Bush administration’s “authoritarian government” to the “McCarthy Era.”

Such hyperbolic language is nothing new for the Bush-hating left, which has long been painting Bush as a Nazi — literally — and an abuser of civil rights. The “Bush is a dictator” theme got a boost with the Supreme Court decision holding — incredibly — that the Geneva Convention applies to terrorist enemy combatants. So we can expect a new round of Democratic condemnations of the president. But if he dares to challenge their allegations, they’ll accuse him of “stifling dissent.”

On “Hannity and Colmes,” Alan Colmes interviewed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama about Dean’s latest outburst and related issues. Obama is seen by many as a rising star in the Democratic Party, and fairly representative of the party’s “mainstream,” if you’ll excuse the oxymoron, so his responses are telling.

While Obama said he didn’t think the administration was blacklisting its political opponents, he said, “There is a mood in the country where dissent is considered unpatriotic. And I think that’s a dangerous move. I think we want to have a situation in which dissent is perceived as part and parcel of who we are as a people and what our democracy is about. And that we can have vigorous disagreements without assuming that, you know, the other side is somehow venal or doesn’t love their country.”

Who is calling whom “venal,” Sen. Obama? Democrats slam Bush for years, mostly with outrageously false and venal charges, and then become hysterical when he defends himself. It would be like throwing a sucker punch at someone and being outraged when they hit back, claiming they are suppressing your right to assault them.

They may not like it when the president and his supporters criticize some of their indefensible positions on the war and their reflexive opposition to every administration policy, but no one has done anything to chill their speech or muzzle their criticism. I’d like to have one example of a Democrats’ venal speech being suppressed by the administration. Indeed, I’d like to have one example of a national Democratic press conference on any subject in which the spokesperson didn’t venally attack the president.

Even if the president had called them unpatriotic for almost always finding ways to oppose his prosecution of the war on terror — which he hasn’t — such verbal counterattacks wouldn’t be censorship. The president has no authority over their First Amendment rights and doesn’t attempt to exert any — and they well know it. In fact, if the president truly were trying to muzzle them and getting these results, he would be anything but too powerful.

But Obama wasn’t through demonstrating his wrongheadedness. When Colmes asked him about the New York Times’ publication of the secret program to track terrorists’ finances, Obama — instinctively siding with the Times as a brother in ideological arms — attempted to point his finger back at the president.

Obama said, “I would advise the president to be cautious about beating up on the press for doing their job. … My attitude is, let the press do its job … in fact, a lot of the problems that have arisen in terms of leaks and so forth have to do with just the extraordinary unwillingness of the president and this administration to submit itself to any kind of oversight, from anybody.”

The problem is, the press wasn’t doing its job; it was doing Al Qaeda’s job. It’s the same story: If President Bush responds to his Democratic attackers, pointing out the flaws and motives in their criticisms, he’s the bad guy for insulting them. Likewise, if the media publish classified information that will damage the national interest and jeopardize American lives and Bush calls them on it, Bush is the bad guy for criticizing them. This is the ultimate in liberal root-cause extrapolation: The media may have committed treason, but Bush made them do it.

Colmes next asked Obama whether it was “hurtful” when “Jack Murtha talks about civilians being killed in cold blood by troops.” At least you have to give Obama high marks for consistency, albeit in articulating a flawed theme. He said, “What I know is, here’s a guy who’s served our country. I would never second-guess John Murtha.”

Once again, if you are a liberal, your statements — no matter how outrageous — are immune from criticism. It’s just an old-fashioned, unsophisticated intimidation tactic.

And they want to talk to us about chilling speech?