The Corner

Down the Memory Hole

This post from last summer remains my most Breitbartian statement on the asininity of the mainstream media figures who peddled the idea that the tea parties and Sarah Palin were responsible for the Tucson shooting.

Still it’s worth checking in every now and then, and Charles Lane’s column today is as good an excuse as any. Lane has a perfectly valid complaint about the overuse of the word “war” in our political rhetoric, even if I might quibble with parts. An excerpt:


I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of war.

The Democratic National Committee accuses the GOP of a “Republican War on Women,” to go along with its “war on working families” (according to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee) and “Paul Ryan’s war on seniors” (Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky).

Various Republicans accuse President Obama of waging “war on religious freedom” or even, in the words of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, “a war on religion.” According to the Republican National Committee, the president is also waging “war on energy,” the sequel, apparently, to what the House Republican Leadership has called “Democrats’ war on American jobs.”

Progressive author Chris Mooney called his book “The Republican War on Science”; not to be outdone, conservatives Grover Norquist and John R. Lott Jr. have published “Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth.”

A Washington Times editorial warned Wisconsin taxpayers that “President Obama and the Democratic National Committee have declared war on you.” “Doonesbury” cartoonist Garry Trudeau observes that “[Rick] Santorum, [Rush] Limbaugh, et al. thought this would be a good time to declare war on half the electorate.”

And on and on and on — until you could almost lose sight of the fact that not one of these institutions or individuals is describing a physical conflict in which people fight, bleed and die.


I’m less offended by such rhetoric than Lane is, but given his very low key and liberal-centrist approach to politics, one can certainly understand the complaint. But here’s the thing. Most people, including Lane, understand that this rhetorical bombast is just that: rhetorical bombast. But liberals, particularly in the mainstream press, willfully pretend such rhetoric is something far worse just so they can paint conservatives as irresponsible, dangerous or crazy.

Sarah Palin’s congressional target map was perfectly within this tradition of using martial metaphors in politics. As were Michele Bachmann’s comments about “fighting back.” And there was never any evidence that Jared Loughner was influenced by any of it anyway. But  nearly the entire liberal punditocracy and vast, vast, swaths of the liberal establishment generally bought into the idea that conservatives had real blood on their hands after the Tucson shooting. The pious bloviating about a “new tone” saturated the airwaves. Yet mere weeks and months after the controversy, liberal activists and politicians reverted to comparing Republicans to terrorists and, now, no one even bothers to complain about the “Republican war on women.”

Again, I don’t think the rhetoric is necessarily beyond the pale. I do think it’s stupid,  cynical and malicious but it doesn’t count for what Paul Krugman ominously referred to as “eliminationist rhetoric.”

Lane’s complaint is that everyone uses “war” when it’s not real and that that makes it harder to talk to one another. Fine, fair enough. But my complaint is different. It’s that some people (not Lane) pretend that the war talk of their opponents — and only their opponents –  is real and then they try to use that bloody libel to bully their political enemies out of the ability to talk at all. And to them, I still stay, to Hell with you people.


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