|Poor Gabby Giffords, forced to vote for the debt deal lest tea party terrorists shoot her in the head again: |
'Civility': The Denouement The liberal elite grows even angrier and more desperate.
By JAMES TARANTO Did Vice President Biden liken Tea Party Republicans to terrorists in a meeting with House Democrats? Eyewitnesses say yes, but he denies it, Politico reports:
Biden was agreeing with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) at a two-hour, closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting. "We have negotiated with terrorists," an angry Doyle said, according to sources in the room. "This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money." Biden, driven by his Democratic allies' misgivings about the debt-limit deal, responded: "They have acted like terrorists." Biden's office initially declined to comment about what the vice president said inside the closed-door session, but after Politico published the remarks, spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said: "The word was used by several members of Congress. The vice president does not believe it's an appropriate term in political discourse." Whether Biden said it or not, all parties seem to agree that Doyle and perhaps other House Democrats did. And plenty of prominent elite liberals have sounded the theme. It's become commonplace on the opinion pages of the New York Times, where Joe Nocera rants:
You know what they say: Never negotiate with terrorists. It only encourages them. These last few months, much of the country has watched in horror as the Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people. . . . Their goal, they believed, was worth blowing up the country for, if that's what it took. . . . For now, the Tea Party Republicans can put aside their suicide vests. But rest assured: They'll have them on again soon enough.
Last Wednesday Thomas Friedman described the Tea Party as the GOP's "Hezbollah faction." The same day Maureen Dowd approvingly quoted "some Democrats" as describing the Tea Party as "the Republican 'Taliban wing.' " (In fairness we should note that the Times's Roger Cohen registered a partial dissent: "Hatred of Muslims . . . is a growing political industry. It's odious, dangerous and racist.")
[ So isn't is 'islamophobic' to use terms like jihad, suicide vests, Hezbollah, Taliban to describe your political rivals? ]
And it's not just the Times. NewsBusters.org quotes liberal Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson: "There's a nihilist caucus which is, 'Listen, we want to burn the place down.' I mean, they're not, they've strapped explosives to the Capitol and they think they are immune from it." NewsBusters also notes a cartoon from David Fitzsimmons of the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star depicting President Obama ordering Navy SEALs to stage a bin Laden-style raid on the House side of the Capitol.
Politico itself got into the act, running two op-eds last week on the theme: "The Tea Party Taliban" by Martin Frost (a Democratic ex-congressman) and "The Tea Party's Terrorist Tactics" by William Yeomans, former chief counsel to Sen. Ted Kennedy. Mary Jo Kopechne's former chief counsel could not be reached for comment.
Hey, what ever happened to civility?
That's not a rhetorical question. Back in January, after a madman shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a crowd of her constituents, gravely wounding her and killing six, the liberal elite briefly developed an obsession with the supposed dangers of uncivil political rhetoric.
Before a suspect had even been identified, as we noted Jan. 10, Fitzsimmons, the Tucson cartoonist, was on CNN blaming "the right in Arizona" for "stoking the fire of heated anger and rage" and making the attack "inevitable." Fitzsimmons later apologized, but former Enron adviser Paul Krugman did not. Sources inside Krugman's head told him that the Tea Party dunnit:
For those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she's a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. These stories were false--which didn't stop the Times from publishing an editorial scapegoating conservatives for the Tucson shooting after it was clear the suspect had no recognizable political motive. And Krugman not only did not apologize for his error but dowdified a quote from Rep. Michele Bachmann so as to charge her falsely with employing "eliminationist rhetoric."
There were many other examples, including Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker, who complained of "shocking vituperation and hatred, virtually all of it coming from people who call themselves conservatives." When his fellow liberals falsely accused conservatives of mass murder, Hertzberg was unshocked. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter had Giffords's future all planned out:
Sad to say, if Giffords had died, she would have been mourned and soon the conversation would have moved on. But Giffords lives, thank God, which offers other possibilities. We won't know for weeks or months whether she can function in public. If she can, she will prove a powerful referee of the boundaries of public discourse--more influential, perhaps, than the president himself. Then it was February, and the liberal elite lost all interest in policing "the boundaries of public discourse." The faux goo-goo group Common Cause held a rally where participants urged the lynching of Supreme Court justices. Liberals--including at least one Democratic congressman--employed actual violent rhetoric against Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker, whose state budget reforms stripped government employee unions of many of their expensive privileges.
And now, of course, all of liberaldom is likening the Tea Party to terrorists. But really, that message is entirely consistent with the one in January, and indeed with the message the liberal elite has been propagating since the early days of the Obama administration: that the Tea Party is illegitimate.
"Terrorist," "racist," "uncivil," "insane," the list goes on--in this context, these words have no real meaning. They are mere epithets. The Obama presidency has reduced the liberal left to an apoplectic rage. His Ivy League credentials, superior attitude, pseudointellectual mien and facile adherence to lefty ideology make him the perfect personification of the liberal elite. Thus far at least, he has been an utter failure both at winning public support and at managing the affairs of the nation.
Obama's failure is the failure of the liberal elite, and that is why their ressentiment has reached such intensity. Their ideas, such as they are, are being put to a real-world test and found severely wanting. As a result, their authority is collapsing. And if there is one thing they know deep in their bones, it is that they are entitled to that authority. They lash out, desperately and pathetically, because they have nothing to offer but fear and anger.
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Reuters Rep Giffords returns.
Meanwhile, some wonderful news: Thanks to America's superlative medical system*, Rep. Giffords has recovered sufficiently that she returned to Congress last night to cast a vote on the debt deal. She looked frail and shaky as she exchanged greetings with colleagues from both sides of the aisle, but she also talked and waved and seemed completely alert. Even watching at home on C-Span, it was hard not to be moved. "The #Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight," Giffords tweeted last night.
Giffords voted "yes" on the bill--the one to which the Tea Party "terrorists" had forced the president to agree.
* That would be Memorial Hermann in the Texas Medical Center in Houston TX.