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When Democratic leaders begin to rail about the evils of “the politics of
personal destruction,” and cluck about how harmful such tactics are, it may
be viewed as an announcement that they are about to launch campaigns to
assassinate the character of those who do not agree with them.

Liberal Democrats have always believed the best defense of their own
transgressions is a passionately righteous offense against the very
transgressions of which they are guilty. For example, to thwart criticisms
of flagrant violations of campaign-finance laws — from renting out the
Lincoln bedroom in the White House to soliciting illegal contributions from
the Chinese — Democrats are conducting a valiant crusade for
campaign-finance reform.

Perhaps there is some virtue in this. As a case in point, reformed drunks
are among the most zealous opponents of alcohol. They have been to hell and
back, and understand the consequences of alcoholism in ways others,
fortunately, cannot.

However, while my nobler self would like to believe Democrats have seen the
light about themselves and do indeed wish to lower the level of rhetoric,
stop personal attacks on their opponents, and conduct civilized debate on
the issues, my rational self knows better. For while Democrats have surely
gone to hell, they have not yet made their way back. The upcoming national
campaigns for elective office will contend for being the dirtiest, most
vile, and most hypocritical in the history of our beloved country.

With the election more than a year away, President Bill Clinton and Senate
Minority Leader Tom Daschle are already on the stump clearly saying that
Republicans are racists, and in the same sentence, saying they are not
saying any such thing. Apparently, it is the operative attitude of a number
of key Democratic leaders that if you do not automatically vote to confirm
black judges and ambassadors based on their skin color, without regard to
their attributes and qualifications, you are obviously a racist. It should
be obvious, and is to the unobstructed mind, that the opposite is true.

But the attacks on Pat Buchanan give us the best preview of what is to come.
When Buchanan surfaced as a hot news item by announcing he was considering
leaving the Republican Party, he was openly reviled by friend and foe alike.
Columnist Molly Ivins referred to him as “my favorite racist, sexist,
xenophobic, homophobic anti-Semite.” The Washington Post columnist David
Broder on the TV show, “Meet the Press,” clearly insinuated that Buchanan
was an anti-Semite. Conservative William Bennett says Buchanan has “flirted”
with anti-Semitism, and espouses ideas that smack of “tribalism.” Donald
Trump, probable Reform Party candidate for president, said that Buchanan
“loves Adolf Hitler.” On his TV show, “Hardball,” San Francisco pundit Chris
Matthews, with a we-all-know-homosexuality- is-as-natural-as-a-walk-in-the
park- and-as-American-as-apple-pie- and-if-you-don’t-agree-you-are-a-bigot
chuckle, said this to his guest about Pat Buchanan: “Bashing homosexuals,
that’s one of his things, isn’t it?”

What we have in view here is a small sample of a largely but not exclusively
liberal lexicon of labels and invective, routinely used not to promote
rational debate, but to crush it before it can start.

Pat Buchanan has been defined as an “anti-Semite” for having the gall to
state his opinion that the nation of Israel has undue influence in
Washington, D.C., and that Palestinians deserve their independence from
Israel. He is a “racist” because he dares believe merit, not race, should be
the basis for awarding contracts and rewarding individuals. He is an
“isolationist” because he thinks America should be a good neighbor but that
the interests of America and Americans should come first in trade and treaty
negotiations with other countries.

What are other Buchanan sins against political orthodoxy? There are many. He
believes we should get rid of foreign entanglements, including wars and
interventions that have nothing to do with American security; he believes
that if we are courageous enough and honest enough to do a thorough critique
of strategic World War II decisions, we might learn something; he thinks we
should put a stop to illegal immigration; he believes in God and traditional
values; he objects to the use of tax money for producing pornographic
materials and paying for abortions, including those in foreign countries; he
thinks people should work for a living; he believes homosexuality is
unnatural; he believes in capitalism; and, worst of all, he says what he
thinks.

For these crimes against liberal dogma, he has become a target of smears by
liberals, including liberal Republicans posing as conservatives, and an
object lesson to the rest of us. The lesson is: if you don’t agree with us,
keep your mouth shut, or we will gang-ravage your reputation.

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