As long as the administration and Republicans allow Democrats a monopoly on righteous indignation, it's doubtful they'll make headway in convincing the electorate they hold the moral high ground on the important issues of the day. If this were merely a game of political one-upmanship, it would be one thing, but national security consequences are involved.
From the war on Iraq, to Gitmo, to the NSA surveillance program, to the Wilson-Plame fiasco, to global warming, to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, deceitful Democrats engage in relentless warfare against Republicans, and Republicans -- way too often -- roll over without even returning fire.
What is a half-attuned public to surmise about the relative integrity of the two parties when one party is forever accusing the other of misconduct and the other barely defends itself, much less turns the tables on its wrongful accusers?
Surely in their wildest dreams Democrats didn't expect the PR and electoral bonanza they've achieved with their "Bush lied" lie. When they first trotted it out, it was almost too preposterous to require refutation. But with four years of daily repetition it has become so entrenched in the conventional wisdom that those of us who bother to refute it are considered the deceivers or the brainwashed.
Every time the administration has attempted to defend itself, bulldog Democrats begin their counter-counter propaganda almost before Republicans offer their tepid defense. Democrats rarely bother even defending challenges to their false claims. They just go straight back on offense, accusing the administration, for example, of challenging their patriotism, though neither the "p" word, nor any of its synonyms, was uttered. The mainstream media then conspires to make the false patriotism charge the story of the day.
When Joe Wilson falsely reports that on his CIA-commissioned trip to Niger he debunked Bush's 16-word State of the Union assertion that the British had learned Saddam was trying to acquire uranium from Africa, the administration eventually apologizes for including the 16-word truism in the speech.When Democrats portray Gitmo as an administration-sponsored gulag, as opposed to a detention center for the worst of the worst where terrorist murderers are treated with dignity, respect and high-calorie cuisine, the administration ultimately agrees that it, too, would like to close Gitmo when feasible.
When the liberal establishment refuses to brook any dissent from its apocalyptic global warming claims, the administration, after long resisting the Stalinist tactics of the enviro-kook fringe, finally relents and begins "acknowledging" some of its dubious premises.
In every case where the administration has relented, either through fatigue or hopes of conciliation and compromise, the Democrats have been energized to greater partisan stridency, not less. The lesson is that you just make sharks hungrier when you feed them.
Don't think these rhetorical battles are merely partisan squabbles with minimal fallout. How can we expect the rest of the civilized world, to say nothing of the Arab street, to believe the United States is a force for good in the world, when one of its two major political parties -- with little resistance from the other -- portrays it as an evil empire bent on stealing the world's oil and torturing "freedom fighters"?
In particular, the ascendancy and acceptance of the "Bush lied" lie has had enormous consequences. The Wilson-Plame affair has been completely driven by it: from Sen. Chuck Schumer's demand for a special prosecutor, to the special prosecutor's insistence on prosecuting someone other than the real leaker and his successful strategy to make the Libby trial -- and the public's perception of it -- about Rove, Cheney and Bush. In the end, it was all based on the premise that the administration would go to any lengths to protect itself from lies it didn't tell and crimes it didn't commit.
Where were congressional Republicans when Valerie Plame testified to a completely different version of events concerning her role, or lack of it, in recommending her husband for the Niger trip? Where were they when their Democratic counterparts were sermonizing over the exposure of the covert status of the already exposed, non-covert CIA desk agent?
Where were they when Democrats were impugning and insulting attorney Victoria Toensing for refusing to conform her expert testimony concerning the law she helped write to the Bush-administration-is-corrupt template?
I can't help but wish that one day we'll see justice in these matters, a balancing of the scales in favor of reality. But until Republicans start fighting back, my wish can be nothing more than idle fantasy.