With the advent of the tea party movement and President Obama's recent "shellacking," the left's long-established effort to marginalize mainstream conservative Americans as fringe extremists has reached a new stage of desperation.
For at least the past half-century, the dominant media culture has portrayed minority liberalism as mainstream and conservatives as shrill malcontents. From the time I started paying attention to politics as a young kid, liberals have been demonizing conservatives as reactionary throwback Neanderthal knuckle-dragging, warmongering extremists.
I'll never forget the "Daisy" ad from the LBJ presidential campaign, which featured a little girl picking petals from a daisy in a field as an ominous countdown from "10" led into footage of a nuclear explosion. The voice of LBJ then interceded with "These are the stakes, to make a world in which all of God's children can live or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die."
The unmistakable message was that Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater could not be trusted with his finger on the nuclear button. The ad resonated because the liberal media had already laid the foundation that conservative ideas were not just antiquated and obsolete but also dangerous.
Liberals similarly depicted Ronald Reagan as a bellicose buffoon itching to light up Moscow with his "Star Wars" nuclear toys; never mind that "Star Wars" was the left's pejorative shorthand for Reagan's proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, which was, as its title indicated, a defense system.
They also characterized Reagan's domestic policies, particularly his tax cuts, as extreme. Never would it have occurred to them that top marginal income tax rates of 90 percent were extreme, but a mere 25 percent across-the-board cut -- allowing American workers to keep a bit more of what they earned -- was.
The left even branded the moderate George W. Bush as a conservative extremist because of his tax cuts and his fierce resolve and firm policies in the war on terror. He got no slack from libs for his no-federal-dollars-left-behind education program, the new prescription drug entitlement or his immigration policy, among others.
These same people, mind you, sold Barack Obama -- National Journal's most liberal senator of 2007, member of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church, colleague of William Ayers', committed Alinskyite, consummate street agitator -- as a refined, urbane, erudite Harvard Law School graduate who would usher in a new kind of post-racial, post-partisan politics and show us the virtues and possibilities of governing through compromise and consensus.
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