Imagine that you and I were neighbors, or even friends. One day, I drop by to visit. Eventually, I suggest that our community has become dangerous and that you might consider buying a gun and taking shooting lessons. As you extinguish your fourth cigarette in half an hour, I also observe that quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health.
You suddenly capsize your coffee table and scream, “You talk like Hitler. Damn you and your family!” whereupon you announce that you will move to another state because you cannot stand living next door to me.
Now, would this make me divisive, or you unhinged?
This thought experiment parallels American public life today. President George W. Bush’s critics bitterly call him a divisive figure who has driven away millions of his countrymen. The blue states of the northeast, upper midwest, and left coast are painted as safe havens from the weird scenes inside the red states. It’s all so scary!
President Bush, no doubt, has pursued controversial policies. But which president hasn’t? President Clinton “divided America” with his parade of scandals that horrified millions of citizens. Poppa Bush divided himself out of a job in 1992.
President Reagan was highly contentious in the 1980s as, his detractors unfairly charged, the man who invented homelessness and ignored AIDS patients. (Never mind the $5.727 billion he spent on AIDS research). When voters in 49 states reelected “Ronald Ray-gun” in 1984, the Left did not hail him for uniting America. Instead, they vilified him until after he retired. Only after the Berlin Wall collapsed and Alzheimer’s removed him from the arena did Democrats grudgingly give Ronald Reagan his due.
Today’s American Left is largely responsible for the division they so loudly condemn. They have every right to chide President Bush’s policies, lament his reelection, and propose better ideas. Instead, the Left throws parched logs onto the national political bonfire, then curses the ensuing flames.
Consider just a few things the Bush haters have said since Election Day:
”F#$@ the South. F#$@ ‘em,” reads a widely circulated on-line screed posted at firstname.lastname@example.org. (The actual web address contains letters rather than symbols.) “We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they’d stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves–yeah, those are states we want to keep.”
“Take your liberal-bashing, federal-tax-leaching, confederate-flag-waving, holier-than-thou, hypocritical bull*?
And no, you can’t have your f#$@ing convention in New York next time. F#$@ off.”
Is this how tolerant liberals celebrate diversity?
The November 5 Wall Street Journal cited these deep thoughts from a weblog called “Punk Voter:” “Senator Kerry said [November 3] that now we need to come together and heal as a nation. F*** that. There’s no f****** way I am going to come together with these homophobic, flag-waving, god-fearing, gun-toting, uneducated, isolationist, ethnocentric REDNECKS.”
An “adoption notice” e-mailed around the country shows the Democratic blue states beside the headline “Free to a good country.” The mock ad continues, “Educated and intelligent population. Gets along well with others. Pretty. Wants to get out of an abusive relationship with current owner and inbreeding red cousins. Open to all sane democracies.”
Another Internet graphic shows the blue states linked to our northerly neighbor in the “United States of Canada.” The red states in between are described as “Jesusland.”
While these vulgar, secessionist sentiments could be dismissed as the bile-fueled grumbling of disgruntled College Democrats, listen to veteran Democratic political consultant Bob Beckel.
-”I think now that slavery is taken care of, I’m for letting the South form its own nation,” Beckel recently declared on Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends. “Really, I think they ought to have their own confederacy.”
-MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell–a former staffer to the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D., N.Y.) and co-creator of NBC’s The West Wing–told The McLaughlin Group this on the weekend after the election: “The segment of the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don’t pay for the federal government…Some would say, ‘Oh, poor Alabama. It’s cut off from the wealth infusion that it gets from New York and California’…But the more this political condition goes on at the presidential level of the red and blue states, the more you’re testing the inclination of the blue states to say, ‘So what?’”
The November 9 Washington Times reported that Canada’s immigration information website usually gets 20,000 U.S. hits daily. The day John Kerry conceded, that number rocketed to 115,016 before easing back to 65,803 November 4, still triple the normal figure.
If a democratic election’s losers ponder emigration, does that make the winners divisive? Does anyone truly believe that if John Kerry had prevailed, Republicans would advocate seceding from blue America? How many Republicans would consider moving say, to the low-tax, relatively pro-life Republic of Ireland?
Another theme of the divisive Left is the supposed idiocy of red states and their inhabitants. It starts, naturally, with President Bush. The Left depicts him as a doddering fool. Yet, somehow, this airheaded cowboy has defeated them in two elections. This hardly demonstrates the Left’s brilliance.
One Internet posting ranks the 50 states by IQ. The higher-IQ states supported Kerry, starting with Connecticut (average IQ 113). These figures plunge to pro-Bush Mississippi, with its 85 average intelligence quotient.
If these numbers are legitimate, they raise interesting questions:
Were Louisiana and South Carolina, both blue states, dumb over the last six years when they elected Democrats John Breaux, Mary Landrieu (in 2002), and Ernest Hollings to the U.S. Senate, or did they suddenly grow stupid this year?
And how about Colorado’s pro-Bush voters? They also elected Democrat Ken Salazar to the U.S. Senate on November 2, rather than Republican Peter Coors. So, were they simultaneously sharp and dimwitted?
“South Dakota’s IQ must have dropped for them to stop voting for Democrat Tom Daschle and switch to Republican John Thune,” says Mitch Baxter, an Arlington, Virginia attorney and member of the Republican Jewish Coalition “They were in the bottom 10 this time. There was no massive immigration of dodos or emigration of geniuses, so there must be some kind of environmental toxin that caused brain damage. Quick, get the EPA!”
Hollywood acted divisively, too. Whoopi Goldberg regaled a July 8 Kerry fundraiser with gynecological double entendres involving the president’s surname. Julia Roberts said “‘Republican’ comes in the dictionary just after ‘reptile’ and just above ‘repugnant.’” Cameron Diaz announced on Oprah September 29 that if Bush were reelected, “we could lose the right to our bodies…. If you think that rape should be legal, then don’t vote.”
Few things divide more quickly than invoking the Nazis. Yet the Left repeatedly detonated this rhetorical A-bomb. MoveOn.org, for instance, famously displayed an online ad comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler.
-The August 30 Time magazine quoted Ithaca College assistant professor Charles Venator Santiago. He complained that when he explains conservative philosophy to his introductory political-science class, I am teaching Hitler.”
-For two years now, bumper stickers have spelled the president’s name “B-U-[swastika]-H.”
-NAACP president Julian Bond doubled down last June 23 when he compared Republicans to both the old South and National Socialism. He said, “Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and Confederate swastika flying side by side.”
Perhaps worse than “Nazi” are the other N-words.
-A blogger named the Rude Pundit, who boasts about “proudly lowering the level of political discourse,” called your humble commentator National Review’s “house negro.” Imagine the justifiable outrage if I or any other center-right commentator called Alan Colmes “the Fox News Channel’s resident Jew?”
-Leftist cartoonist Ted Rall created a July 5 illustration which shows Secretary of State Designate Condoleezza Rice at an “inner-city racial re-education camp.” She says, “I was Bush’s beard! His house n*gga…”
-As the black free-market organization, Project 21, has documented, “Doonesbury” cartoonist Garry Trudeau recently referred to Rice as “Brown Sugar.” The mainstream Universal Press Syndicate distributes Rall and Trudeau.
-On November 17, WTDY (Madison, Wisconsin) radio host John “Sly” Sylvester called Rice “Aunt Jemima” and (current) Secretary of State Powell “Uncle Tom.” He also complained about “the illusion of inclusion,” as if Bush’s appointment of two consecutive black Americans to the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Cabinet agency were no big whoop.
-”There are those house slaves who lived on the plantation, and there were those slaves who lived in the house,” Left-wing calypso singer Harry Belafonte explained in October 2002. “Colin Powell was permitted to come into the house of the master.”
To count beans briefly–combining Powell, Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson, and (outgoing) Education Secretary Rod Paige–Bush’s Cabinet is a fifth black, exceeding by one half America’s 13-percent black population. For this, black liberals give Bush zero credit. But if he had no minority secretaries, these exact, same people would slam Bush for having a lily-white Cabinet.
Disgusting name-calling aside, Democrats pursued policies over the last four years that were at least as divisive as Bush’s.
Liberals can complain that Bush divisively named conservative judicial appointees (as if John Kerry would not divisively have selected liberals). However, Democrats divisively filibustered nominees, refused to schedule floor votes for many of them, and referred to minorities among them as self-hatingly black (Janice Rogers Brown), insufficiently Hispanic (Miguel Estrada), and even soft on the Ku Klux Klan (Charles Pickering, who Mississippi voters, in fact, ousted as a state legislator after he testified against
Sam Bowers, the Klan’s Imperial Wizard, at his 1967 trial for fatally firebombing black civil-rights activist Vernon Dahmer).
On abortion, did President Bush divide America by signing the Partial Birth Abortion Ban? If so, Tom Daschle, Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, and 16 other Senate and 62 House Democrats helped divide America by supporting this measure, too.
I support gay marriage, but, still, I wonder if President Bush initially divided America on this issue by endorsing a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Perhaps the division began, for better or worse, with the Massachusetts supreme court’s decision embracing same-sex marriage, and with Democratic mayor Gavin Newsome’s gay-nuptials marathon last spring at San Francisco’s city hall.
This is, by nature, a polarizing issue. Any party that moves far or quickly into the marriage debate will evoke an emotional response. On this matter, the divisions emerged from and followed multiple paths. After gay-marriage bans passed in 11 of 11 states in which they faced voters–including margins of 59 to 41 percent in blue-state Michigan and 57 to 43 percent in blue Oregon–gay-marriage advocates clearly must return to the drawing board.
Here as well, it’s fair to ask if Bush were the divider, or if Democrats John Kerry and John Edwards fueled the divisive flames by blowing off the Senate’s July 14 vote on the gay-marriage ban, declaring that they favored restricting marriage to a man and a woman, and endorsing state-level decision-making on marriage. The divisive outcome which liberals scorn is precisely the policy the 2004 Democratic nominees prescribed.
President Bush did not issue the Patriot Act by decree. It passed the Senate 98 to 1 and the House 357 to 66. If this measure is divisive, it is bipartisanly so.
Ditto the Iraq war. While Democrats pound Bush on Operation Iraqi Freedom, it is largely their war, too. The Senate adopted the Iraq war resolution 77 to 23 (with 29 of 50 Democrats voting affirmatively, including Kerry and Edwards). In the House, the vote was 296 to 133 with 82 of 208 Democrats voting aye. Bush did not divisively “go it alone” into Iraq. He did so with the assistance of 44 allied nations and the bipartisan support of his party and 43 percent of the loyal opposition.
Democrats could have challenged the president in larger numbers, scrutinized pre-war intelligence more thoroughly, asked far tougher questions, or simply followed their party’s relatively dovish instincts. But no. They largely voted for the war. Democrats who stood with Bush must take responsibility for contributing to America’s Iraq-related division.
On issue after issue, the Democratic Left either helped Bush “divide” America by supporting his policies, or they themselves have behaved divisively by abandoning civil dialogue and acting with rancor and venom, which conspire like butane and sparks.
Bush supporters should feel comfortable humming this Billy Joel lyric: “We didn’t start the fire.”