Is the Right, well, right? If you, dear reader, are a Democrat, then you probably just shouted “hell no!!!” or words of similar effect. And yet, there are disturbing portents that Democrats wish to ape Republicans in a number of ways. First, you hear many Democrats mumble under their breath that they wish Obama were more like Bush when it comes to forcing his agenda through Congress, damn the consequences. The problem, they complain, is that nobody “fears” Obama. Dear God. Haven’t we learned the consequences of a government that uses fear as its primary motivational tool???
Second, Democrats are proving to be just as vengeful as Republicans. Remember how Democrats — correctly — rose up in arms when Republicans refused to be requited by Obama’s apology in the
Gates incident? We denounced their antics for what they were — less about actual contrition and forgiveness, and more about keeping an explosive and divisive issue festering. Well, Democrats are pulling the same trick with Joe Wilson. I’ll stipulate that the man is a disgrace. But he apologized and Obama accepted his apology. Why, then, the push to censure him on the House floor, or exact some other form of retribution?
The reason, of course, is that it is not about punishing him for some breach of decorum. It is about partisanship: firing up the base, and fundraising. Which is great. Except it is a double-edged sword. Sure, Joe Wilson’s opponent has raked in a million dollars since The Outburst. But umm, newsflash — so has Joe Wilson. In this perpetual game of partisanship, neither side wins. Meanwhile, lost in all of this petty bickering are the people, whose real concerns go unattended to. As the African proverb so eloquently puts it, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” (The quick-witted among you should resist the urge to point out that, technically speaking, I’m complaining about a fight between an elephant and a donkey. The point still holds.)
I didn’t just vote for Obama because I thought he had the right ideas. I voted for him because he promised to try to bring an end to the increasing bitterness and rancor in today’s politics. Sure, six months in, Republicans have shown little interest in joining Obama to forge a bipartisan path. So now what? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? I would argue that Obama’s task is made harder, not easier, when we resort to these kinds of tactics. Because if Obama cannot get his team to play nice(r), then there is absolutely no reason for the other side to give an inch.
And the weird thing is, I’m starting to think that many Democrats like it that way. Enough with this rapprochement, they seem to be saying. This is a war, and you shoot ’em dead between the eyes. You don’t make nice with the enemy. And you make sure they fear you, literally quake with terror when your name is mentioned. That, they say with a stern visage, is how you win in Washington.
I have two pieces of advice for such folks. Go read Animal Farm, because you strike me as Democrats of the “Four legs good, two legs better” variety. Also read this from Michael Kinsley:
“Free Joe Wilson Enough With the Phony Umbrage”
Moral: the way Democrats advance their agenda is just as important as the substance of their agenda, if not more so.