Politics & Policy

The Right’s Too Nice

Battle stations!

We’re too nice.

Those of us on the Right — Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians — endure two problems simultaneously. Too often we’re defensive and timid about promoting our beliefs. We always postulate the good intentions of our opponents while seeming secretly dubious about our own goodwill.

Meanwhile, the Right routinely is ridiculed as mean, nasty people who gleefully oppress minorities, starve babies and their grandmothers, and organize hate crimes — all in an effort to make suburbia safe for stock options.

As the media cheer them on, the Left portray themselves as the defenders of the weak and the very font of sweet mercy on which the innocent can rely. Team Gore’s five-week-long Florida recount odyssey typified this posture. All the vice-president’s men attacked the notorious butterfly ballots as too complex for Palm Beach’s dazed and confused residents, even though 94 percent of voters fathomed how to use them. And, of course, the so-called pregnant chads supposedly were fathered and mothered by elderly voters too frail to poke sharp steel sticks through thin, perforated computer cards.

As ABC’s John Stossel would say, “Give me a break!”

For all our alleged cruelty, the Right has been downright saintly. When Missouri Republican Sen. John Ashcroft lost to Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan, he quickly conceded, even though Gov. Carnahan had perished in a plane crash days earlier. That’s most tragic, and the governor’s widow and survivors deserve our thoughts and sympathies.

But Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution could not be clearer: “No Person shall be a Senator who…shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.” On Election Day, Mel Carnahan was not an Inhabitant of the state of Missouri. He was dead.

And yet, Carnahan won more votes, so the gracious and gentlemanly Ashcroft departed rather than demand a special election between himself and a live opponent. So Mrs. Jean Carnahan is off to the United States Senate, to add yet another seat to Tom Daschle’s Democratic caucus. And the Right and the U.S. Constitution suffer.

We’re too nice.

The Left caricatures the Right as skin flints who pickpocket the poor to enrich our wealthy friends at America’s country clubs. And yet GOP congressmen violate their own free-market rhetoric to appropriate money at a staggering clip. In fact, the Republican Congress has been busy spending like the winners of a new show called Who Wants to Be a Billionaire?”

Naturally, they have wasted money on stupid pork barrel projects such as a $500 million helicopter carrier the Pentagon does not want. Nonetheless, Congress approved the funds, and the ship will be built — literally within sight of Sen. Trent Lott’s front porch in Pascagoula, Mississippi. What a coincidence.

Stephen Moore and Stephen Slivinski of the Cato Institute authored a study last summer called “The Return of the Living Dead: Federal Programs that Survived the Republican Revolution.” As they report, on numerous occasions, the horrible, stingy Republicans have spent even more money than President Clinton has requested.

In his fiscal year 2000 budget, President Clinton asked for $55 million for School-to-Work Opportunities Grants. The Republican Congress approved $125 million, a 127 percent increase. Clinton wanted $27 million for the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. The GOP Congress gave him $111 million, a 311 percent hike.

And then there’s every Republican’s favorite agency: the Internal Revenue Service. President Clinton requested $8.1 billion for the IRS’ budget. The Republican Congress authorized $8.2 billion. That’s just $100 million, but that’s more — not less — for the IRS.

We’re too nice.

The Right’s supposed allies in business are no better. In the fall presidential campaign, Albert Gore slammed the “big drug companies” as if they sold poison pills for obscene profits. He actually called their Washington lobbyists “rats in the barn.” For weeks, the pharmaceutical sector said…nothing.

I call this “the silence of the labs.”

They finally responded with gauzy, gooey TV ads in which industry scientists explained how proud they are to perform vital medical research. None of these commercials addressed the Democrats’ constant, vicious attacks and their specific plans to micromanage drug manufacturers through command and control policies like a Patients’ Bill of Rights. Few Republican candidates made these points.

We’re too nice.

Now consider the so-called nice guys on the Left.

  • The supposedly non-partisan NAACP ran a $9 million ad campaign designed to boost black turnout. It featured a TV commercial that re-enacted the June 1998 dragging death of James Byrd in Texas and essentially associated George W. Bush with that atrocity. While Democratic Sen. Robert Kerrey of Nebraska denounced the ad, Sen. Joseph Lieberman defended it on NBC’s Meet the Press.
  • In a further, ham-fisted effort to inflame black voters, Gore told a Pittsburgh church audience the Saturday before Election Day that “When my opponent, Governor Bush, says he’ll appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court I often think of the strictly constructed meaning that was applied when the Constitution was written, how some people [slaves] were considered three-fifths of a human being.”
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton played the race card, too. In her second New York senatorial debate, she said she would oppose any Supreme Court nominee “who would vote to overturn Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 desegregation decision. That ruling will be overturned the day the Empire State Building stands on its head. Meanwhile, why not scare black voters?
  • About four months before Election Day, Billy Childs, a Democratic judge in Maine, dredged up court records on George W. Bush’s 1976 drunk-driving arrest. Then Tom Connolly, Maine’s 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee and a Gore delegate to the 2000 Democratic convention, leaked that information to Fox News just five days before the election. This story — heaped on Bush like the contents of a dump truck — surely influenced a race as close as this one.

The Left has been no nicer since Election Day.

  • Paul Begala, a former general in Bill Clinton’s political War Room, penned with cobra venom a column for MSNBC on November 13. He invited readers to “look closely at that map” of America, the states Bush carried all colored red. “You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay — it’s red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees — it’s red. The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they’re all red too.” The vileness of Begala’s anti-Right hate speech is exceeded only by the media silence that greeted it.
  • On November 14, NBC News’ Claire Shipman discussed her conversation with a friend of Gore’s who said that Lieberman had encouraged Gore’s combativeness. Why? As Shipman put it: “Lieberman was apparently quite moved by stories that Holocaust victims in Florida may have voted for the wrong man — Pat Buchanan.” So, Team Gore managed to drag the Final Solution into the Florida Fiasco.
  • About that time, Florida police found a vote-punching machine in the trunk of a car belonging to a Democratic state lawmaker in Palm Beach. He previously had denied that he even possessed the device.
  • Democratic recount observers used a five-page how-to memo written by Tallahassee Democratic attorney Mark Herron to suppress systematically the absentee ballots of overseas soldiers and sailors who they feared were more pro-Bush than pro-Gore.

Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reported December 1 that at least 445 Florida felons voted illegally on November 7, including 62 robbers, 56 drug dealers, seven kidnappers, 16 rapists, and 45 murderers. These felonious voters were registered 75 percent Democrat.

  • Prominent Democrats opened fire on Florida’s Republican secretary of state Katherine Harris. Gore spokesman Chris Lehane compared her to a “Soviet commissar.” The aforementioned Paul Begala dubbed her “Cruella De Vil.” Attorney Alan Dershowitz called her “a crook.”

And why not mock her makeup? As a reporter for the liberal Boston Globe wrote: “Unless…Harris was planning to unwind at a drag bar after facing that phalanx of cameras Tuesday night, the grease paint she wore should be a federal offense.”

While attacking the pro-Bush Harris as a partisan Republican, Democrats never asked Florida attorney general Bob Butterworth to recuse himself from legal actions, even though he chaired Gore’s Florida campaign.

  • AFL-CIO leaders helped organize demonstrations around the Sunshine State. So did Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, as is their right. And yet Lieberman attacked Republican demonstrators for “the rule of the mob.”
  • Jackson went on to accuse Florida governor Jeb Bush of deliberately violating the civil rights of black voters through disenfranchisement. “No doubt about it that Jeb Bush was a major factor in the Florida breakdown,” Jackson told Human Events. “It’s a very serious charge, and an accurate charge.” Jackson blew a jugular on the Fox News Channel December 12. Asked if Bush could be a legitimate leader, Jackson predicted that Bush “would preside, but not govern, because he took this by Nazi tactics.”
  • Worst of all, as the Wall Street Journal reported on its front page on November 16, Walter Mondale’s former campaign manager, Bob Beckel, launched an intelligence operation to explore the backgrounds of Republican members of the Electoral College.

“It is information gathering on my part, using my own network” Beckel confessed. “I call on mostly Democrats, but some Republicans, too, and ask, ‘Who are these electors, and what do you know about them?’ I just wanted to know who these electors are.”

Blackmail anyone?

Just three defections from Bush’s 271 electors would secure Al Gore the Oval Office. It’s hard to believe that at least three of these mortals have not cheated on their spouses, cheated on their taxes or sniffed some cocaine here or there. Perhaps their grown children are engaged in behavior they would rather maintain as family secrets. If Beckel can find three such patriots between now and December 18 — when electors vote — who would “put country ahead of party, in the name of national unity,” Al Gore could win the White House after all. As the Journal reported December 8, Florida police were informed of an e-mail to one elector that stated, “We know where you live.”

Remember: these are supposed to be the nice guys.

It’s far past time for the Right to drop our badminton rackets, grab our baseball bats and get to work. We should not lie, file foolish lawsuits nor dredge our opponents’ underwear drawers and tax returns for balls to swat out of the park. What we must do is step up to the plate and fight for our beliefs as if we were in a war — because we are.

Here are just a few things we ought to do:

First, so long as Republicans control Capitol Hill, they continuously should place different federal departments and agencies under the microscope of congressional hearings. Sen. William Roth (R., DE) did this masterfully at his 1997-1998 inquiries into IRS abuses. The networks broadcast the stories of witnesses who had been victimized by IRS procedures. One accountant explained how his client, at the end of his rope, fatally blew his brains out the day before his scheduled audit. Even Ted Kennedy supported the subsequent Taxpayers Bill of Rights that curbed the worst IRS excesses.

Similar probes should be arranged for the EPA, FDA, BATF, EEOC and any other federally funded acronym.

Second, President Bush should steal the moral high ground from the Democrats on Social Security. He should travel to Howard University in Washington, D.C. and tell young black men how Social Security screws them. A black male born in 1990 is expected to live 64 years. Alas, he will remain ineligible for Social Security benefits until age 67. Since Uncle Sam keeps his payroll-tax payments, he cannot even bequeath those funds to his loved ones, although piddling survivors’ benefits are available for widows and minor children. Where is the social justice in that? Bush should rail on this issue as a way to curry black support and advance his pension-reform proposal in an unassailable way.

Third, during the fall campaign, Bush should have visited the front lines of the fires in Montana and explained how the Clinton-Gore administration’s anti-logging policies contributed to the destruction of wildlife and millions of acres of habitat they presumably wanted to preserve. He should take similar actions in the wilderness to show how the Left’s environmental extremism often hurts birds, trees, fish, and flowers.

Fourth, President Bush should enforce the Supreme Court’s so-called Beck decision and encourage union members to demand refunds for that portion of their union dues that goes to political activity they don’t wish to support. This would begin to defund the unions, arguably the single biggest impediment to free-market ideas.

Fifth, Congress should hold hearings on and pass legislation to close the federal loophole that allows union extortion and violence so long as it is committed for “legitimate union objectives.” Utah Republican Orrin Hatch has kept such a bill bottled up in the Senate Judiciary Committee in hopes that being nice to the unions would persuade them to be nice to Republicans.

As if.

The Teamsters played footsie with the GOP, then endorsed Gore. Unions from coast to coast gave Democrats money and volunteers, then delivered the Democratic vote on Election Day. That wasn’t very nice.

All of these efforts would expose the Left’s cruelty, educate the public and offer the media something exciting to report.

If George W. Bush stood on a Harlem street corner and handed out $1,000 bills to needy black people, Democrats would attack him as out of touch for thinking $1,000 could change the life of someone in the ghetto.

In the Left’s eyes we’re never right.

Republicans, conservatives and libertarians should stop trying to be loved and instead become respected for fighting diligently for our beliefs while exposing the Left’s high-cost heartlessness.

The Right must get on the warpath because that’s where the Left is — today, tomorrow, and forever.

We should be in the streets as well.

We should march with the bare skeletons of umbrellas above our heads to dramatize America’s total vulnerability to nuclear attack and demand an effective defense against incoming atomic warheads. We should say, “We are better-protected from raindrops than you are from hostile nuclear missiles.”

We should organize married couples in tuxedoes and wedding gowns to rally for an end to the marriage tax.

We should parade farmers in scores of tractors to illustrate how families are forced to sell their farms to pay Uncle Sam death taxes of up to 55 percent.

We should mobilize black moms, dads, and their children to demand school-choice options, vouchers or whatever it takes to carry them from collapsing government schools into charter, private or parochial classrooms where they might learn something rather than wind up skill-less, hopeless and dead by gunfire before the age of 21.

These are fights worth winning and fights we can win…if we fight.

In conclusion, I offer just two more words: Battle stations!

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


The Latest