Not many commentators have been as insistent as I have that the Democrats stop letting themselves get kicked around and learn to play hardball the way the right plays it, an argument I've made in this magazine [see "Dems' Fightin' Words," TAP, Aug. 26, 2002] and elsewhere. And so every time a Robert Byrd bashes President Bush for his flyboy routine, or a Terry McAuliffe lays into the GOP for politicizing September 11 with the timing of its convention, I always think that, whatever the short-term gain or loss (or neither, if, as is most often the case, no one paid much attention), in the long run it's still a good thing. The attack muscle is one the Democrats need to use lest it atrophy.
Pop quiz: If the Democrats are going to stand a chance of beating George W. Bush in 2004, they are going to have to put tremendous effort and creativity into winning over which of the following groups of voters: a) gay men and lesbians or b) people (gay, straight, whatever) who currently think that the post-September 11 United States is just somehow more secure in Republican hands?
The argument now picking up a good head of steam among commentators on the right -- and sure to last for as long as seems useful to them -- is that we on the left, broadly defined, have disgraced ourselves by essentially cheering for our own country to lose the war.
Our hatred for George W. Bush, the line goes, runs deeper than our love of country. We predicted quagmire. We mocked the notion that the Iraqi citizenry would greet U.S. soldiers as liberators. We politicized a circumstance that, involving as it does life and death and loyalty to flag, should be above politics. The Weekly Standard made great sport of throwing certain quotes back in certain faces. Washington Times columnist Mona Charen did the same. More is surely on the way.
Rupert Murdoch is back in the news. But then when is he not in the news? He is the news -- this time by virtue of having granted a rare interview to the enemy side, arriving here in the person of David D. Kirkpatrick of The New York Times. The interview demonstrates once again the devious and slippery brilliance (unfortunately, there is no other word) of the man and the "news" organizations built so fulsomely in his image, and reminds us that, rather than having reached the pinnacle of his power, he's just getting ramped up. It all made me think back over how he built his empire and how it might have been dealt a crushing blow once, but for the help, at an extremely crucial point, of mostly Democratic politicians.
As a single cloud at sea can augur a typhoon, so can a short and superficially amiable piece by conservative intellectual godhead William Kristol in The Weekly Standard describe a coming right-wing line of attack against liberals that will thunder across the airwaves and op-ed pages for months, probably right up through November 2004. So buckle up, folks, because Kristol, for the April 7 Standard, has just written such a piece.
It is a house -- no, a skyscraper -- of propaganda and lies.