Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, April 12, 2004  

Editorials, Part Two

Mondays being editorially slow, my local paper ran columns from David Brooks and (newly minted Pulitzer winner) Leonard Pitts. Brooks' piece--as they mostly are now--was an anxious defense of Bush. He called for rhetical calm in the face of Iraqi chaos:

Come on people, let's get a grip.

This week, Chicken Littles like Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were ranting that Iraq is another Vietnam. Pundits and sages were spinning a whole series of mutually exclusive disaster scenarios: Civil war! A nationwide rebellion!

Maybe we should calm down a bit.

Now, hold that thought while we turn to Pitts, who is displeased with Air America.

Liberal orthodoxy has lately begun generating a bumper crop of its own through a spate of books with titles like the one quoted above. In addition, there is the new Air America radio network which, some people hope, will give liberals the same platform for diatribe conservative broadcasters have enjoyed for years.

The liberal folk would argue that they are simply punching back after serving as punching bags for the better part of a generation. And while you can hardly blame them for that, you still have to wonder if, in the long run, the quality of public discourse is really improved just because somebody is hollering at us from the other direction for a change. Noise is still noise, whatever its origin.

There, do you see it? In the face of public criticism of the President (general or specific) both liberals and conservatives blame the critics.

On the Brooks piece, you can imagine what he'd be writing if the tables were turned. If this were Clinton presiding over a post-war quagmire made of his own hubris and stupidity, I don't know that he'd be calling for calm. If it were Clinton, who, in defending the quagmire, was caught routinely offering up lies (ahem, mis-statements), I doubt we could count on Brooks' reserve.

Pitts, on the other hand, shows us what liberals have normally expected in return--ashamed self-criticism. It's not particularly that Pitts is wrong. Liberals, being devoted to inclusion and freedom of expression, are always somewhat reluctant to return mean-spirited, mendacious assaults in kind. In a perfect world public discourse would be improved if we didn't just holler at each other. But come on. The GOP not only have all the power, but there are no tactics beneath which they won't stoop (dig?) to keep it. At what point do you admit that it's time to fight back?

I'll tell you this, it's not with a radio station. Talk to me when the Democrats have been accused of rigging elections (Diebold controversy), bribing representatives (Michigan Rep. Nick Smith), and gerrymandering entire states (Texas). There's fair play and then there's stupid play. Time for the Democrats to abandon the latter, at the very least.

posted by Jeff | 1:54 PM |
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