On the basis of the logic on the New York Times editorial page, maybe Bill Clinton did kill Vince Foster. Evidently President Bush is responsible for Enron because he is from Texas and – it is insinuatingly noted – so is Enron! If the left's physical proximity argument constitutes evidence, I take it back: There are boatloads of evidence that Clinton killed Foster.
Indeed, the entire Republican Party is evidently responsible for various rich liberal "Friends of Bill" who now stand accused of insider trading, such as Martha Stewart and ImClone chief Sam Waksal. Republicans are responsible on the basis of the fact that liberals have spent 20 years calling Republicans "the party of the rich."
Liberals are like the monkeys in Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" who explain: "We all say so, and so it must be true." Republicans are responsible for Clinton's pal Martha Stewart because liberals say so. Again, I note: If hysterical partisan insinuation constitutes proof, then we need to reopen the Vince Foster files.
Liberals have no real arguments – none that the American people would find palatable, anyway. So in lieu of actual argument, they accuse conservatives of every vice that pops into their heads, including their own mind-boggling elitism.
The Democratic Party has basically remade itself into a party of left-wing academics and Park Avenue matrons. And then they attack Republicans for being elitist snobs protecting "corporate interests." It's bad enough that these rich snobs want to raise our taxes all the time. Having to endure Malibu Marie Antoinettes calling Republicans "the rich" is more than working Americans should have to bear.
Howell Raines, the former editorial page editor of The New York Times, described Ronald Reagan as "making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white and healthy." Striking a manly tone, Raines woefully noted that this "saddened" him.
The idea that Reagan was a privileged overlord swatting down working-class wretches with his polo mallet is more delusional than some of Barbra Streisand's wackier ideas. This was the same Reagan who cut taxes, bombed Libya, stood up to the left's beloved Soviet Union, built up the military and restored pride in America. (Yes, that Reagan.) Who were these initiatives supposed to appeal to? Martha Stewart? I think not. Average, middle-class Americans voted Reagan back into office for a second term in the largest electoral landslide in history.
But 20 years of propaganda about Republicans being the party of "the rich" has created pre-programmed reflexes. The fact that propaganda works is demonstrated by the fact that people don't laugh out loud when Democrats try to pin corporate malfeasance on the Republican Party.
Liberals also have many important and substantive backup arguments such as they hate Republicans.
In December 1998, the New York Post described talk-show host Phil Donahue exploding with rage at a Four Seasons party (where the Party of the People mingles) screaming about how he hated Republicans. His wife, Marlo Thomas, apologetically explained: "I don't know why he's saying that. He doesn't really hate all Republicans." (He probably likes Jim Jeffords, for example.)
In the alternative, liberals thoughtfully explain that Republicans are bigots. In a 1995 interview, Clinton's Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders called Sen. Jesse Helms a "typical white, Southern male bigot." It's a little difficult to imagine a Republican presidential appointee referring to any congressman as being a "typical" member of his race without inciting a blizzard of protest.
But this is standard political debate for the left. It is simply not possible to disagree with liberals about constitutional interpretation, guns, abortion, immigration, racial quotas – or really, anything. Serious political dialogue becomes the exception when political discourse is littered with ad hominem land mines.
By contrast, when Republicans directly quote their opponents, all hell breaks loose. A Republican actually quoting a Democrat verbatim constitutes a McCarthyite witch hunt.
Thus, for example, in 1988, George Bush (41) pulled the old quote-your-opponent trick on Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. During the primaries, Dukakis had said: "I am a strong liberal Democrat. I am a card-carrying member of ACLU." Those were Dukakis' precise words. Bush quoted him during one of the debates.
Ten years later, liberals were still fuming about Bush's dirty rat trick of quoting Dukakis. On July 4, 1999, CNN reporter Bruce Morton cited Bush's low blow, saying it was a "echo of the late Joseph McCarthy's card-carrying member of the Communist Party, but it seemed to help Bush." They'll stoop to anything to win, those Republicans, even quote their opponents.
Serious political debate evidently consists of randomly accusing your opponent of being a hateful bigot or having some vague ephemeral association with corporate crooks. Those are good arguments.