There is a “fundamental law” in American politics, Charles Krauthammer wrote in 2002: “Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.” Recent events have led me to dwell on that statement, which, if not a law already, is nearer to ratification every day.
Take the latest campaign news out of Texas, where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is running under the (no doubt correct) assumption that she can only win if she convinces the voting public that her opponent is a Klan member.
Greg Abbott won’t say whether he’d defend an interracial marriage ban—troubling but not surprising from someone who defends a “poll tax.”
— Wendy Davis (@WendyDavisTexas) October 20, 2014
Abbott’s Mexican-American wife will be devastated.
Adding insult to injury, an ad released last week by the Davis campaign claims that Abbott, who is confined to a wheelchair, “spent his career [as attorney general] working against other victims.”
Davis’s caricaturing is the worst evidence of Krauthammer’s Law this year, but it is a crowded field.
- Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has attacked the “un-American” Koch brothers more than 134 times from the senate floor, lambasting them for their “immorality” and “radical philosophy.” Reflect for a moment that this tinfoil hatter runs the most powerful legislative body in the country.
- Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) — another Democrat party leader — apologized for telling an audience of women that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was “grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.” Wasserman-Schultz further claimed that Walker and Florida Governor Rick Scott were giving “women the back of [their] hand.”
- A gun control group ran an attack ad claiming that Arizona House candidate Martha McSally defended a loophole making it easier for stalkers to get guns. The ad claimed McSally “doesn’t understand” how important the issue is to women who have been stalked. The ad was pulled when McSally revealed she was once the victim of stalking.
- Sen. Mark Udall (D-Co.) has attacked his Republican opponent for waging War on Women so often that he has earned the nickname “Mark Uterus.”
- Alaska Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) pulled an attack ad claiming that his opponent, former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan, “let a lot of sex offenders get off with light sentences.” Insinuation: Sullivan, as a conservative, doesn’t really have a problem with sexual violence. At best, he thinks it’s kind of meh. Fact check: Pants on fire.
I would be somewhat comforted if these examples were confined to politicians, who will always jettison honest discourse in the interest of victory. But of course they are not. The intellectual gentry of liberalism is very much taken with the belief that conservatives are not just wrong, but evil. Brian Beutler, Jamelle Bouie, Jonathan Chait, Paul Krugman, Amanda Marcotte, Greg Sargent, Joan Walsh, and the entire Gawker Media empire stay in a job by repackaging that one simple belief for their readers in weekly columns.
There are, of course, plenty of conservatives who believe that liberals are evil. But this belief does not penetrate the higher echelons of conservative punditry to nearly the extent it does on the left.
So what is it about progressives that makes them eager to anathematize conservatives? National Review’s Kevin Williamson and Charlie Cooke think the answer lies in progressives’ devotion to government. Those who think that government is the cure to all of society’s ills are threatened by government failure. When such failure occurs, they must identify an obstructing force (e.g. the Republican House, the National Rifle Association, angry white men, the Tea Party, and so on) by way of explanation. The alternative is admitting that government has pretty serious limits. Such dangerous thoughts lead to discussions about limited government.
So progressives must have their Emmanuel Goldstein. Even if targets do not fit the mold, as with Abbott and so many others, they must be made to fit, whatever the cost.
—M. Blake Seitz is Editor-At-Large of THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE
UPDATE: Davis doubles down.
Candidates face tough questions in this election. Whether or not we should defend an interracial marriage ban isn’t one of them.
— Wendy Davis (@WendyDavisTexas) October 21, 2014
More tough questions.
— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) October 21, 2014
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