Friday, October 27, 2006

The Left and Kidney Stones

Anyone who knows me could have seen this one coming. I have long tried to find meaning in everyday life events, and so again I apply a lesson from a literal pain in a private place to politics.

Earlier this week I wrote a comparison between The Political Left in the United States and Terrorists. The responses were predictable, but some missed the point or else were dishonest. So it seems appropriate to respond to those six comments.

The first comment agreed with me, and naturally I found it easy to accept. Yes, it was difficult to write that so many people have chosen to support a platform which has moved from inadequacy to hostility to common sense, to outright malice against the ideals of America. The problem is not that Democrats are evil, actually, but that their party has been hijacked by the worst sort of extremists and the people who support that party are for the most part unaware or unperturbed by this situation. For all the claims from the Left that the GOP has become fascists, in actual practice and historical comparison it is the Left which has become unpleasantly similar to the regimes of Il Duce and Der Fuhrer.

The second, third, and fourth comments were the sort of denial I have learned to expect from decent-minded liberals; the notion that criticism of the Right is always well-founded and reasonable, but that warnings about evil in the Left must be false and therefore the result of hate or misunderstanding. To that writer, I would repeat the questions which no one in the Left has yet even tried to answer:

[] What are your specific plans for Iraq and the Middle East? I have heard so many criticisms of Republican plans, complaints and blame – so very often far from rational – for all that has happened up to now, but never a specific plan for how you would address the threats from Iran and Syria and the Sudan. Never yet.

[] Why do you believe that raising taxes will, of itself, result in a more sound economy and more responsible government? The lie that Clinton created a surplus just doesn’t fly, since his “surplus” was largely projections for future conditions based on best-case assumptions, and the economic conditions of 1993-2000 were not influenced by any government action, especially not by any economic initiative from Clinton that can be found. Read up on Keynes, please.

[] Since his election as President, I have read and heard a large variety of unsubstantiated charges and vicious insults thrown at George W. Bush. In fact, many leaders on the Left, including DNC Chairman Howard Dean, former Democratic nominees for President John Kerry and Al Gore, and a number of senior elected Democrats, including Senators Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid, and Congresspersons Pelosi and Schumer, have uttered such foul imprecations and false allegations, as to make civil debate on the issues impracticable. While it is unfortunately common for extreme commentators and advocates to make such statements as to compare a sitting President to Hitler, or to pretend that a President would deliberately mislead Congress in order to pursue a desired conflict, it is quite out of bounds for a national party’s leaders to act in such a fashion, yet this is exactly the conduct from the Left for the past six years. Howard Dean publicly speculated that Bush “allowed” the 9/11 attacks to happen. John Kerry repeatedly claimed President Bush misled Congress in his intelligence on Iraq, even though Kerry saw the very same information, and – when he was not running for President – publicly agreed with the President about the threat and its magnitude. Al Gore has acted in a fashion far removed from decency, let alone respectful disagreement, yet he has never once supported his charges. Senator Kennedy publicly claimed that President “cooked up” the War in Iraq “for political gain”, a baseless lie and smear he never bothered to retract or defend. Harry Reid has repeatedly accused the Bush Administration of corruption, even while he himself is unwilling or unable to explain his million-dollar payoff for land he did not even own, and which profit he hid from reporting to the Senate, to say nothing of Reid’s connections to Abramoff which far outshadow in scale and severity any Republican connections yet proven. Congresswoman Pelosi has repeatedly made accusations against President Bush without merit or support, as has Representative Schumer. Taken together, it is completely reasonable to count this as a calculated and sustained smear campaign to avoid discussing the issues. And as such, I must ask supporters of the Left why they accept such conduct on the part of their elected officials.

The fifth comment spoke in much the same tone as my article here. The last comment was a disappointing attempt to twist my words, criticizing the Left, to an attack on all Democrats and Liberals. Full of insults and false allegations, it typifies what I have seen all too often from the Left. While there are clearly individuals on the Right who are hateful and petty, there seem to be so many more of them on the Left. Do I really need to bring up, again, those Democrats in Minnesota who slashed tires of GOP vehicles on election day in 2004 in order to keep folks from voting? Do I need to point out that the only violent acts by protestors during the 2004 political conventions were by anarchists and Liberal activist groups? Do I need to remind you that such people put an NYPD officer into Intensive Care by pulling him off his horse, kicking him in the head and throwing him down a subway stairwell? Do I need to remind you about your “Wellstone Memorial” in 2002, when a funeral for a good man, respected by all, turned into a near-riot of hate and anti-Republican venom, with Republicans who came to show respect for Paul Wellstone and his family targeted for insults and hatred just because they were Republicans? Can you still, even now, not see the poison in your own rhetoric? And worse, there is no prominent voice on the Left warning about this.

As I mentioned above, there are some hateful Conservatives and Republicans. We don’t walk on water. But we do call out those hate-mongers, even when they are as popular as Ann Coulter or Michael Savage. And none of our top elected officials attacks the Democrats as they do Republicans.

The problem is not that you are required to like President Bush, or Republicans, or Conservatives. But you really need to consider that the United States is becoming increasingly Conservative, as evidenced by the trend of the past decade. One comment whined that I was somehow insulting almost 40 percent of the country by criticizing the tone and rhetoric of the Left as displayed in forums and public statements for more than a half-decade. Such complaining is not valid, not only because the Democrats represent – at best – 35 percent of the voting population, not 40 percent of the general population, not only because less than a quarter of the population considers themselves “liberal” in political orientation, but also because even if we grant the notion that we must recognize the opinions of the Left and watch out for the tender feelings of their leaders, logic demands that we pay even greater respect to the mind and values of the Conservatives, who out-number liberals whenever the public is asked, that we respect the opinion of the clear majority of the voting public who voted to re-elect George W. Bush. The Leftists’ demand that they be treated to courtesy they never return, to rights they refuse to acknowledge they owe to the other side, is false on its face.

I mentioned at the start that I like to take lessons from real life. Well, passing a couple kidney stones is not a pleasant experience, but it’s my own fault. Too much potassium and sodium in my diet, along with way too much caffeine, and there you have a recipe for severe abdominal consequences. I will not go into too much detail about kidney stones, except to simply say that rocks in the tubes between your kidney and the – exit point for urination, scraping and cutting the tissue wall along the way, is zero fun. And unless you are wise enough to plan ahead and check for that sort of thing, your first warning is likely to be like mine; sudden sharp pain in your kidney, followed by several hours of burning, cramp-like pain and a lot of pressure where you don’t want it.

The reason I mention that little adventure, is because it could have been avoided. I have learned from that, in fact I have not had so much as a sip of a caffeinated beverage since Tuesday, which is very difficult for me. No coffee, no Diet Coke, no delight in my taste buds. But better than encouraging more of those little blighters; I still have a CT-Scan scheduled for next week to make sure there are not some more little rocks waiting to do a second chorus. The lesson is, no matter what you would like to do or have happen, you must be careful to consider the most likely results of your decisions. And this applies to politics just as much as diet and exercise.

Democrats may or may not take over one or both chambers of Congress. But it will not help them in the long run, unless they return to the Democrats’ manner of governance of more than sixty years ago, and the Liberal thinking which expanded on the rights of the general public and the way they mean to address problems with viable solutions. As long as the Left refuses to offer real, specific solutions, they basically do nothing to move the debate forward. When the Republicans won in 1994, they did not do so by merely attacking Clinton’s positions, but by offering a “Contract With America”, including specific promises which they kept. As much as I respect George W. Bush, he came to office on the strength of six years of Republican work to show they could do the job. If the Left can only deal with his election and re-election by making up vapid excuses to pretend they did not really lose, then they change nothing in substance and invite further defeats down the road. For all the shortcomings of the GOP-held Congress, if the Democrats win and cannot show results where the voters need them most, they most certainly will lose again in later elections.

It might sound from that claim, that I should not worry – the Left will die of self-inflicted wounds. Yet that would most certainly be bad for the country and her people, because America has always needed two viable political parties. Whenever one gets too powerful, things go wrong. But the Left does not deserve a seat at the table just for balance, but only if it can show a deserving quality. Real answers, not just mocking the people who take on the task. Real respect for dialogue, do not just cheer for your own side and viciously banish anyone in your ranks who is not deemed ideologically pure.

It hurts less to deal with a serious problem now, than to wait for it to become unbearable.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Alright, I'll take the challenge.

1. What are my specific plans for the Middle East? In a way, this is an unfair question. I'm sitting here in Kansas City, not privvy to intelligence briefings or a vast body of knowledge of Middle Eastern history, or expert advice. But, despite those hindrances, I can see what is most certainly NOT working, and that is the Bush bungling. So I'll take change over "stay the course" with a proven incompetent.

But you want a specific plan from me. Okay, I would pick a date - maybe the start of next Ramadan, for example, and tell the Iraqis that we are going to exit by then. And I would provide billions of dollars of aid to help them rebuild their own country. And if the country descends further into civil war, I would feel terrible, but I see no other, better way of handling the situation created by Bush and the neo-cons.

2. Why will raising taxes, of itself, improve the economy? Again, a truly foolish question. I know of nobody arguing such a position. That said, it is simply immoral to issue massive tax cuts to the uber-wealthy in a time when we are spending like drunken sailors. We are tranferring the burden of Bush's war and reckless spending from today's wealthy to the unborn.

3. Why do we tolerate harsh criticism of Bush? Well, why do we tolerate being compared to kidney stones? I don't think you're in a position to be on a moral high horse of civil discourse now, are you? You have consistently demonized the left, questioning our patriotism and morals. Now you want to ask why some on the left are unkind to the right? While I share your expectation of moral superiority on the left, we're not THAT much better than you are. But we'll continue trying.