August 19, 2011
Pundits Peddle Civility SophistryBy Jan LaRue
Americans are angry because our country is being destroyed by the current administration's destructive policies. The country is on a course like the Titanic, and Beltway bobble heads appear more concerned that candidates won't "sound presidential" if they call out Obama's iceberg policies and personnel.
It's a wonder the Republic survived the ferociously raucous election battle of 1800 without a "conservative" political chattering class standing athwart history yelling for garden party civility.
By today's civility "standards," Alexander Hamilton failed to "sound presidential" when he attacked John Adams' "unfitness for the station of Chief Magistrate." Adams flunked when he called Hamilton "the bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar." How about Federalists who excoriated "Jefferson as an un-Christian deist whose sympathy for the French Revolution would bring similar bloodshed and chaos to the United States?"
Who would expect less from patriots who put their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the line for liberty, believing that victory by the other side would ruin the nation they had just won a war to establish?
Presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry has thrown down the gauntlet to the Obama campaign machine: When you throw a punch, be prepared to duck and cover.
Fox News commentator Karl Rove quickly blasted Perry while exaggerating what Perry said about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke:
It's his first time on the national stage, and it was a very unfortunate comment. You don't accuse the chairman of the federal reserve of being a traitor to his country and being guilty of treason and suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas - that's not, again, a presidential statement ... Governor Perry is going to have to fight the impression that he's a cowboy from Texas. This simply added to it."
Perry didn't accuse Bernanke of treason. Perry said that in his opinion, if Bernanke continues to devalue the U.S. dollar at this time in our history, it is "almost treasonous." Perry responded to critics by not backing down: "I am just passionate about the issue, and we stand by what we said," according to Slate.com.
Getting treated "pretty ugly" in Texas isn't a death threat. It can mean that we'd just as soon not have you at our 2013 barbecue.
Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, called Perry's comment "stupid." In Kristol's Aug. 10 blog post, "Fear the Fed," he says: "It is impossible to overstate the danger posed to the long-term stability of our country by current Fed policy." For Kristol, Perry managed to "overstate the danger" of Bernanke's printing press.
Columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer gave Perry a back-handed break by pointing to Obama's equivalent attack on Republicans for "putting party over country." Politico.com has this exchange between Krauthammer and Fox's Brett Baier:
Charles Krauthammer: "When the president accuses the Republicans of putting party over country, and at another stop he said they want America to fail so they will succeed politically. That is a sophisticated way of essentially accusing the Republicans of near-treasonous behavior. Now, of course, he's sophisticated and practiced and articulate, so he won't use the word the way that Perry did. But it's the same idea."
Bret Baier: "Are you suggesting that Texas Gov. Perry is not articulate?"
Krauthammer: "I'm saying the way he articulated his attack on Bernanke, it was a demonstration that he does not have the art and the artiful way of presenting it that Obama does. It's essentially [an] equivalent claim. These people care nothing about country, only about self-interest and politics and re-election."
Later, Krauthammer says "if you're going to call out Perry on his use of that, I'd call out the president on that as well."
Democrats threw out their recently minted "civility" book to implement their slash and burn 2012 campaign strategy, calling patriotic Americans "terrorists," "racists," "extremists," "tyrants," "aren't American people," and "hostage-takers."
They're counting on Republicans caring more about their "civility" image than saving America.
At his Dec. 10, 2010 press conference, President Obama was asked about harsh criticism from his liberal Democratic base for agreeing to a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for all Americans. Obama referred to Republicans opposed to raising taxes as "hostage takers":
"I've said before that I think that the middle class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high end tax cuts. I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers unless the hostage gets harmed then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed."
Obama didn't explain why Democrats aren't "hostage-takers."
A Tea Party member took Obama at his word when Obama said the reason for his bus tour was: "I want to hear from you guys." Ryan Rhodes politely asked Obama why his Vice President called the Tea Party terrorists.
Dana Perino, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, said Ryan's question "crossed a line." She prefers to "err on the side of extra civility."
Perry's opening jabs at President Obama and Bernanke pale in comparison to the verbal attacks that Adams, Jefferson and Hamilton fired at each other.
The election of 2012 is no less vital. It's between advocates of a centralized federal government and advocates of decentralized power of the states, more closely accountable to "We the People."
Reason.com has posted a short video clip quoting some of the "attack ads" from the 1800 election, available here. American Enterprise scholar Stephen F. Hayward opined in The New York Times on April 20: "The vitriol in that election would make Fox News and MSNBC blush."
Imagine Perino, Rove and Kristol lecturing Jefferson, Adams and Hamilton about civility.
Jan LaRue is senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union.
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