WASHINGTON -- We all have our favorite sages. Official Washington has Don Imus. Or at least that surly vulgarian was the commentariat's favorite sage until those two gifted hucksters, Sharpton and Jackson, saw in Imus's bleak humor another opportunity to engaud their resumes. Now he is a whimpering bundle of apologies, his First Amendment rights having been jettisoned almost instantaneously along with his he-man demeanor.
My favorite sage is the economist and columnist Thomas Sowell. One of his most recent insights goes like this: The liberals' favorite argument is that there is no argument -- nothing uttered in opposition to liberal beliefs exists, at least nothing worthy of their intellectual engagement. Thus, a la Al Gore, they proceed to reiterate their point of view boldly, heroically and with the insistence that no other point of view is worthy of notice.
Now with the liberals' sudden assault on the Black Caucus for its co-sponsorship with Fox News of a pair of presidential primary debates this autumn, I have an addendum to Sowell's insight. That is: The liberals' favorite debate is no debate unless the forum is totally dominated by them. Even then there will preferably be no argument, just the liberal point of view sedulously propounded in a forum shaped completely by them. This, students of rhetoric and knowledgeable of 20th century European history will tell you, is called propaganda. The Nazis mastered such forums, as did the communists. The American political context is freer or has been until recently.
Now because the Black Caucus is exercising its freedoms and, in the American democratic spirit of liberality, co-sponsoring debate with Fox News, some recently emergent online nightriders called "Color of Change" is accusing the Caucus of "dancing with the devil." Other brute left-wing groups are on the attack. They are following the cue from the left's most vehement brute group, MoveOn, which famously proclaimed of the Democratic Party in December 2004, "we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."One wonders what the uniform of these brutes looks like. Do MoveOners and their nightriders at Color of Change wear hobnailed boots? Do they goosestep? Who is their leader? Those who follow their work tell me it is George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire who once spread his millions to encourage the Open Society in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. When I first heard of him and of his enthusiasm for the Open Society, I thought he was a friend of freedom and democracy. The attempt to intimidate the Black Caucus and take over the Democratic Party is not the work of a true democrat or friend of the Open Society. MoveOn's work is alien from what we in America recognize as true liberal values: free debate, tolerance and opposition to coercion.
The Black Caucus is more in touch with those values. It is those values that eventually triumphed over oppression and racism. Members of the Black Caucus are often themselves old enough to have fought for those values in the civil rights movement. They are practical enough politicians to know that they need the support of a broad base of Americans for their Democratic Party to be a winning party. Fox News is a runaway winner in cable news ratings. More than half of its audience is composed of independent voters and Democrats. It is perfectly sensible for the Black Caucus to combine with Fox to sponsor open debates among Democratic presidential hopefuls.
Yet there is the stuff of amusement here. Despite their tough language the bloggers' uniforms remain pajamas and underwear. The tougher ones probably wear no clothes at all. Sitting before their computers the naked armies of the night are intent on taking over the Democratic Party. I look forward to their appearance at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. My only question is: Who will be pliable enough to be their candidate?