Lie, cheat, twist, slant, forge —— whatever it takes. Bush must be stopped.
So today's Democrats seem to believe. Law professor Susan Estrich —— her law school ethics classes apparently but a distant memory —— expressed the sentiment when she offered fellow Dems this election advice: "You have to fight fire with fire, mud with mud, dirt with dirt." Lie about anything and everything, because "lies move numbers."
Time Magazine's Joe Klein agrees. He defends John Kerry's tendency to play loose with facts as a matter of entitlement. "Kerry has a right to exaggerate with impunity," he writes, overlooking the public's right to scorn serial liars. His advice to Kerry and implicitly to all Dems is "to do much more of that."
Dan Rather must have heard his call. If there were a Pulitzer Prize for prevarication, he'd win it for his presentation of laughably false documents he hoped would damage the President. Rather's pursuit of Bush was like Captain Ahab's of the white whale. His allegations were so stale that, even if true, they would have hardly been news. But he sacrificed the reputation of a 40—year career in a blind, hateful effort to take the President down.
Judging from the reaction of the liberal press, the sentiment is widely shared. Immediately after the broadcast of Rather's phony story, and having then done no independent investigation, three major liberal papers rushed in support with unequivocal headlines:
New York Times: "Documents Suggest Special Treatment for Bush in Guard."
Washington Post: "Records Say Bush Balked at Order."
Los Angeles Times: "Documents Say Bush Got Breaks in Military."
Compare their headlines the next day, after the news had broken that Rather's presentation was a fraud. The Gang of Three suddenly decided it wasn't their place to take a position:
New York Times: "Commander's Son Questions Memos on Bush's Service."
Washington Post: "Some Question Authenticity of Papers on Bush."
Los Angeles Times (page A18!): "Guard Memos Fuel Another Vietnam—Era Battle."
Such patent bias can't do much for these papers' credibility. That they would sacrifice it so eagerly can only be an indication of liberal determination to bring Bush down at any cost —— and of immeasurable venom.
Estrich should be pleased. Her big fear, after all, is that Democrats are "not mean enough." She'd find reassurance if she'd just recall Jonathan Chait, writing last year in the New Republic. Speaking no doubt for countless liberals, he made his feelings plain: "I hate President George W. Bush." More recently in the Los Angeles Times, he added that Bush is "a flaming disaster of a president."
Can't deny the animosity from the left, but how deep does it run? One strong indicator is the frequency of comparisons between Bush and Hitler or the GOP and the Gestapo. It's gone beyond campaign rhetoric to become a full—fledged liberal meme.
George Soros, the billionaire financier of the anti—Bush cause, says Bush "reminds me of the Germans" because "my experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me."
Equally sensitized apparently is former senator John Glenn. Following in the deranged footsteps of the man who was once, frighteningly, within a hair's breadth of the presidency, he says of Republicans and their agenda: It's "the old Hitler business."
Even seemingly amiable radio raconteur Garrison Keillor calls Republicans "brownshirts in pinstripes," "freelance racists" and "Newt's evil spawn."
Don't think they really mean it? For an alarming glimpse into the minds of today's liberals, read Hugh Pearson's argument in Newsday that Republicans and Nazis are quite literally indistinguishable. He says that:
* The Republican National Convention was like "Nazi rallies held in Germany."
* Republicans waving the red, white and blue were just like Nazis "obsessed with endless displays of swastikas."
* The conceit "that no one knows what's best for the world except the current leadership in the White House" is reminiscent of when "the German people were told that Nazi leadership was faultless."
* Bush's pursuit of terrorists is like the "pre—emptive war to protect the self—interests of the Third Reich."
* Even the president's decisiveness is Nazi—like because "Hitler was decisive too."
All of which raises a disturbing question: If liberals truly see Bush as Hitler reincarnated, to what heretofore unimagined lengths might they go to end his reign?
Steven Zak is an attorney and writer