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Left-Winger Haters, Right-Wing Haters, Centrist Haters …

Good piece from The New Republic’s James Kirchick in the Daily News:

… the notion that the McCain campaign, and conservatives more broadly, have stooped to an unprecedented level of “sleaziness” with negative, nasty and mendacious campaign tactics has become the accepted media narrative over the past several weeks. “Smear” is the word you most often hear nowadays next to “Republican.” But while it may be true that some in the conservative fever swamps have resorted to ugly tactics, they don’t hold a candle to the left’s rhetoric over the past eight years.

Liberal pundits are attempting to outdo one another in describing just how unscrupulous conservatives have become. In The New Yorker last week, Hendrik Hertzberg referred to McCain-Palin rallies as “blood-curdling hate-fests.” Frank Rich went one step further in The New York Times, decrying the “Weimar-like rage” of the Republican Party base, evidenced by a few attendees at a Sarah Palin rally who shouted “terrorist” and “off with his head” when she mentioned Barack Obama. Rich’s fellow Times columnist Paul Krugman remarked that attendees at GOP gatherings have been “gripped by insane rage” at the prospect of an Obama presidency. Ascribing the oafish behavior of a handful to an entire political party, The Nation magazine slams the “GOP’s machinery of hate” in an editorial patronizingly entitled, “Waiting for the Barbarians.”

… What about the left’s conspiracy theories? A not insignificant portion of liberals in this country believe that a small group of Jews, er, the “neocons,” took control of the government following 9/11 to fight wars on behalf of Israel. Is not this slander as odious as the Internet rumors about Barack Obama?

I’m just barely old enough to remember Ford being denounced as “even worse than Nixon,” and since then every presidential election has been marked by two things: 1. Democrats claiming that any sitting Republican is the “worst president in history,” vacillating between incompetence and unmitigated evil; 2. ridiculous claims that we are suffering the “worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” Remember the 1991 recession?” Worst economy since the Great Depression,” and all that? Remember how millions of Americans were relegated to soup lines and selling apples on the sidewalks? No, me either, because that’s not what happened. (As it’s been pointed out around here, if anything we’ve recently seen the most acute economic crisis since the Carter administration, but that’s not exactly the same thing, is it?)
There’s a reason for this: Every time the Democrats start talking in specific terms about what they really want to do in office, they get a Hillarycare fiasco, with the whole country pretty much scratching its collective head and asking, “Now why would you want to do that? That doesn’t sound like a good idea at all.” So the only remaining strategy is to make the argument, “Well, anything’s better than these guys.” And every so often the voters forget what that anything looks like: Pelosi, Kennedy, Frank, Reid, &c. (Very often, the Republicans give the Democrats an important helping hand in this.) But it usually doesn’t take Americans very long to remember what they don’t like about the center-Left agenda, which is why the most notable achievements of the Clinton administration — NAFTA, welfare reform — were largely Republican projects that the president supported over the objections of his own party.
So, Kirchick’s correct that we can expect to hear more of the same risible rhetoric from the Left, continuing after the election (and regardless of the outcome of the election), because the Democrats would rather talk about almost anything other than how they’re going to raise your taxes, raise the white flag, and settle down to work on the issues that really matter to Americans: abortion and magical new automobiles that run on unicorn juice. Hey, it’s either that or be gripped by insane Weimar-like rage, right?

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