You'd think that US politicians would have learned by now not to accuse the opposition of being un-patriotic. So why are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer coming out and calling the opponents to ObamaCare "un-American?"
However, it is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue.
Oh, silly me. The chaps who started the un-American thing 50 years ago were Republican McCarthyites. Nobody could accuse a Democrat of using McCarthyite tactics. Nancy Pelosi is a card-carrying liberal. Nobody could accuse her of fascistic tendencies.
More and more, it is becoming clear that Nancy Pelosi is out of her depth. She just doesn't understand the "high game" and thinks she is still playing thug-level big-city machine politics. Republicans couldn't ask for a better opponent.
Glenn Reynolds has articulated the situation best.
The truth is that for my adult lifetime, "protest" has been a kind of Kabuki engaged in by organized groups on the Left with help from the press -- as in the recent bus tour of AIG executives that was organized and paid for by an ACORN affiliate and in which the protesters were heavily outnumbered by the media, who nonetheless generally treated it as an "authentic" expression of populist discontent.
Now, all of a sudden, conservatives have erupted into genuine "out-of-doors" political activity, and liberals are calling it "unruly" and "astro-turf." They are questioning its legitimacy. These are the guys who have made an art form out of rent-a-mob "peaceful protest."
I'd advise my Democratic friends to be careful. In politics you want to avoid waking sleeping dogs. You can get the people to put up with a lot of abuse from government. They will grumble and complain, but not do anything about it. But when you provoke a populace into rebellion, then you have bought yourself a peck of trouble. Once people get aroused it becomes very difficult to get them to go home again.
Back in the 1950s liberals were delighted to be accused of being "un-American." It put them on the side of the angels over a dispute (communists spies in government) in which they had a lot to answer for.
Today, conservatives should be delighted that clumsy liberals like Nancy Pelosi are reaching for the patriotism button. It will rile up center-right Americans like you wouldn't believe, and unite conservatives, libertarians, and Christian conservatives into a single, powerful coalition. That is terrible news for liberals because this is a center-right country, and the only way that liberals can get things done is by keeping the right divided.
My judgment is that we have a generation of liberals in power today that don't really have first-class political minds. They have had it too easy, for they have never had to defend their ideas against a hostile media. Unlike your average conservative.
We are going to see, in our time, a great liberal unraveling. It began with the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Liberals had told us how bad it was for politicians like Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon to lie. Liberals had told us that the rules over the treatment of women had changed and that the old double standard was over. Then along came Bill Clinton, treating women like objects, and lying about it.
So liberals said it was OK. Everyone lies about sex, they said.
In the Obama era we will see a bunch of other liberal sacred cows sacrificed to political convenience.
That is why conservatives make such a big deal whenever Obama throws someone "under the bus." Modern liberalism is reduced to mere political convenience, even as it continues to recite the shibboleths from its long-departed era of idealism with ever increasing emphasis.
So go ahead Nancy Pelosi. Call me un-patriotic. Make my day.