WASHINGTON -- Pity the poor Democrats. Five years of George W. Bush in office have driven them to distraction. Their most audible advocates have developed "Mad Mule Malady." The symptoms are identical to "Foot-in-Mouth Disease," and those running for office under the Democrat Party banner this year are likely to find their colleagues' increasingly vicious verbal gaffes to be both memorable and damaging.
The onset of their illness could not be more instructive. As leading Democrats are attacking Republicans, al Qaeda is planning to attack America. That is what we are told by Osama bin Laden, who, in an audio tape in which contents are being confirmed, threatens new terrorist attacks against the United States and our citizens. And once again, in the most important issue of our time -- the defeat of radical Islamic jihadists -- Democrats are proving themselves irrelevant.
This week, Hizzoner Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, used a Martin Luther King Day celebration to urge that the Big Easy be re-built as a "Chocolate City." Not to be outdone by a mere mayor's blatant racism, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., chose an MLK-Day event sponsored by the Reverend Al Sharpton to liken the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives to a "plantation." Her foray into race baiting followed the outburst of her friend and aging entertainer Harry Belafonte who, on a recent visit to Venezuela, described President Bush as "the world's greatest terrorist."
These strange statements might have topped the week were it not for former Vice President Al Gore, who used a speech in Washington to declare that President Bush has placed "our Constitution … at risk," by directing the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor communications between suspected terrorist operatives in the United States and individuals overseas.
Gore, in a lengthy speech to the "trans-partisan" Liberty Coalition on MLK Day, told the audience that President Bush was engaging in "a gross and excessive power grab" and "has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." The former vice president, apparently forgetting the record of his own running-mate, added that, "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government." And just to make sure that everyone got the point, he claimed that, "The disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution."
Forget for a moment that the person making these charges once claimed to have invented the Internet. Disregard his 1997 assertion that he and his wife, Tipper, were models for the main characters in Erich Segal's 1970 romance novel "Love Story" -- a claim Segal later discounted. Set aside that Gore told a Teamster's conference in Sept. 2000 that among "the lullabies I heard as child," was one with the words, "Look for the union label" -- even though the lyrics weren't written until 1975, for an International Ladies Garment Workers Union ad campaign -- when Gore was 27. Ignore Gore's March 3, 1997 artful denial that calls to contributors from his government office violated federal campaign rules when he declared that, "There is no controlling legal authority that says this was in violation of law."
Gore's vainglorious fabrications only emphasize his hypocrisy. He is, after all, the person who said of the scandal-tainted administration in which he served: "I think the ethical standards established in this White House have been the highest in the history of the White House."
But the most recent assault on the commander in chief, like those of many other members of his party in recent months, place us at risk in the midst of a war. As such, they are far more serious than the spiteful, mean-spirited racial taunts of Clinton or Nagin. Though all three politicians' rants were undoubtedly uttered for partisan purposes -- the former vice president's accusations of criminal behavior against Bush threaten serious damage. It's a pattern of speech that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the Democrat party, potentially destructive to the morale of our Armed Forces and inherently dangerous for the American people.
Late last year, Sen. Richard, "Dick" Durbin, D-Ill., likened the actions of U.S. military personnel to those of Stalin, Hitler and Cambodia's Pol Pot. Just a few weeks ago, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars said "no" when asked if he would serve today. He went on to discourage others from enlisting in our all-volunteer Armed Forces. Now, Al Gore has all but accused the commander in chief of violating the civil liberties of the American people he has sworn to protect and defend against a brutal, bloodthirsty enemy.
These are not mere "misstatements" in the midst of heated political debate and dissent. The "foot-in-mouth disease" -- so prevalent in Washington today -- may well prove terminal if the American people perceive that Democrats want to win the next election so badly that they are willing to lose the war we are fighting now.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.