January 07, 2004

The Far-Left Drinks The Hatorade

Pejman Yousefzadeh has an upbeat attitude about the recent ad competition at MoveOn.org that resulted in a number of entries comparing Bush to Hitler appearing on the website. At his fine blog, Pejmanesque, he calls it "hysterical", adding a "loud guffaw" for effect.

After all, according to the NY Times account,

"It sounded like a fun way to expand participation in this year's presidential election, at least for those opposed to re-electing President Bush."

Those zany kids over at MoveOn.org. What won't they do next for a laugh? At the Most Ironically-Named Website of the Decade, the Bush-hatred oozes from nearly every post, which makes their denials and backpedaling on the subject of the ads' content all the more laughable. Responding to criticism from the RNC:

Wes Boyd, a MoveOn.org founder, fired back, saying Republicans were "deliberately and maliciously" misleading the public by asserting that MoveOn.org had sponsored the advertisements. "None of these was our ad," Mr. Boyd said in a statement. "Nor did their appearance constitute endorsement or sponsorship by MoveOn.org Voter Fund."

His contention that the offensive ads "slipped through" somehow onto the website prompted this comment from Pejman:

So according to this statement, the problem with Moveon.org is not that they are historical illiterates who don't understand the significance and genuine awfulness of the Nazi era. The real problem is that they are a motley collection of halfwits who allow things to "slip through" to their websites without the proper screening.

Again, laughter seems the best way to deal with this excuse-making. One thing that can reliably be said about the unhinged far-left wing of the movement, whose web home seems to be MoveOn.org, is that they don't apologize for their utter hatred of Bush. And Hitler references are their stock in trade.

Hindrocket at Power Line points out the "selective outrage" of Richard Cohen, who in a recent column goes off on Grover Norquist's (equally idiotic) mention of the Holocaust in the context of a discussion of the estate tax, of all things.

"can Cohen really be unaware that Hitler/Third Reich/Holocaust analogies are a staple of liberal rhetoric about the Bush administration? Does he really not know that at every anti-war demonstration, protesters carry signs with pictures of President Bush with a Hitler mustache? Didn't he read about the MoveOn.org television ad competition in which two of the entries showed President Bush morphing into Adolf Hitler? Doesn't he know that likening Bush to Hitler is the tritest staple of liberal discourse?

Cohen cannot possibly be unaware that "Bush=Hitler" is the mantra of the contemporary left. So what are we to make of the fact that he has never criticized liberals for their intolerant rhetoric, but has gone absolutely bananas when Grover Norquist had the temerity to mention the Holocaust?

I, personally, would like to see a moratorium on all references to Hitler, the Third Reich, Nazism and the Holocaust in the context of domestic political debate. Such a rule would have no perceptible effect on conservative discourse, but it would render the left virtually mute.

Well, at least the MoveOn.org wing of the Left anyway.

So I found it particularly a propos that in a later post Pejman linked to the classic 2002 Michael Walzer essay, "Can There Be A Decent Left?" , which I eagerly re-read, and hereby recommend to all MoveOn.org posters, frequenters and sympathisers. Especially these sections about political responsibility, written as part of Walzer's advice to his fellow liberals:

It is a common idea on the left that political responsibility is something like temperance, moderation, and cleanliness--good bourgeois values that are incompatible with radical politics or incisive social criticism. You have to be a little wild to be a radical. That isnít a crazy idea, and alienated intellectuals may well have, more than anyone else, the anger necessary to begin the critical project and the lust for intellectual combat that sustains it. But they don't necessarily get things right, and the angrier they are and the more they are locked into their combative posture, the more likely they are to get things wrong. What was necessary after September 11, and what is necessary now, is an engagement with our fellow citizens that recognizes the fellowship. We can be as critical as we like, but these are people whose fate we share; we are responsible for their safety as they are for ours, and our politics has to reflect that mutual responsibility. When they are attacked, so are we; and we should join willingly and constructively in debates about how to defend the country. Once again: we should act as if we wonít always be powerless.

Of the left's understandable feelings of powerlessness and alienation, Walzer seems to suggest what reasonable people from both parties are hoping occurs to Democrats sometime soon. That they get serious!

...leftists have no power in the United States and most of us don't expect to exercise power, ever. Many left intellectuals live in America like internal aliens, refusing to identify with their fellow citizens, regarding any hint of patriotic feeling as politically incorrect. Thatís why they had such difficulty responding emotionally to the attacks of September 11 or joining in the expressions of solidarity that followed. Equally important, thatís why their participation in the policy debate after the attacks was so odd; their proposals (turn to the UN, collect evidence against bin Laden, and so on) seem to have been developed with no concern for effectiveness and no sense of urgency. They talked and wrote as if they could not imagine themselves responsible for the lives of their fellow-citizens. That was someone elseís business; the business of the left was...what? To oppose the authorities, whatever they did. The good result of this opposition was a spirited defense of civil liberties. But even this defense displayed a certain willful irresponsibility and ineffectiveness, because so many leftists rushed to the defense of civil liberties while refusing to acknowledge that the country faced real dangers--as if there was no need at all to balance security and freedom. Maybe the right balance will emerge spontaneously from the clash of rightwing authoritarianism and leftwing absolutism, but it would be better practice for the left to figure out the right balance for itself, on its own; the effort would suggest a responsible politics and a real desire to exercise power, some day.

UPDATE 1/8: Byron York makes the point in today's article at NRO, that a comparison of Bush to Hitler is perfectly consistent with the track record and overall theme of MoveOn.org, so why are they now at pains to disavow the message of the offensive ads that have gotten attention this week?

UPDATE 1/13: Drudge Report has a partial transcript of some of the speeches given at the MoveOn.org awards event in New York City Monday night. Free cups of Hatorade were being served, by all indications.

Posted by dan at January 7, 2004 12:28 AM
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