Ed Driscoll

The Politics of Blood Libel

In the Wall Street Journal, Glenn Reynolds writes, “Shortly after November’s electoral defeat for the Democrats, pollster Mark Penn appeared on Chris Matthews’s TV show and remarked that what President Obama needed to reconnect with the American people was another Oklahoma City bombing:”

To judge from the reaction to Saturday’s tragic shootings in Arizona, many on the left (and in the press) agree, and for a while hoped that Jared Lee Loughner’s killing spree might fill the bill.

With only the barest outline of events available, pundits and reporters seemed to agree that the massacre had to be the fault of the tea party movement in general, and of Sarah Palin in particular. Why? Because they had created, in New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s words, a “climate of hate.”

The critics were a bit short on particulars as to what that meant. Mrs. Palin has used some martial metaphors—”lock and load”—and talked about “targeting” opponents. But as media writer Howard Kurtz noted in The Daily Beast, such metaphors are common in politics. Palin critic Markos Moulitsas, on his Daily Kos blog, had even included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s district on a list of congressional districts “bullseyed” for primary challenges. When Democrats use language like this—or even harsher language like Mr. Obama’s famous remark, in Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”—it’s just evidence of high spirits, apparently. But if Republicans do it, it somehow creates a climate of hate.

There’s a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn’t derive from the innocuous use of political clichés. And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are more the targets than the source.

The Rhetorican writes that it’s not easy for the left to live in such a glass house:

That’s who they are supposed to be according to their late, great teacher Saul Alinsky, who must be spinning in his grave.  In their own sanctimoniousness and arrogance, Lefties have unsuspectingly set themselves up to have Alinsky’s Rule 4 applied to them, all because of their obsession with Sarah Palin.  Of course, it doesn’t help that the alleged perpetrator of yesterday’s horrible crime is not much of a conservative.

Another one of Alinsky’s Rules that the Left has failed to observe in all this is Rule 2: “Never go outside the experience of your people” (to be applied in conjunction with Rule 3).  In other words: don’t have your activists implement tactics of which they know nothing.  Well, today’s Left doesn’t know anything about civility, so how could anyone expect them to agitate successfully for their side while condemning uncivil conduct?

Speaking of Alinsky, if there is anyone responsible for introducing the view that our political adversaries are something to hit, it’s probably Alinsky himself.  The term “target” is a key part of his Rule 12.  And the word “enemy” is also an important part of Rules 1, 3, and 4.

Alinsky, the community organizer from Chicago.  Talk about glass houses…

Jonah Goldberg runs down a list of the sorts of martial cliches common to political campaigns — err, I guess we can’t call that anymore:

Let us “hold our fire” and  talk no more of “campaigns.”

Let us ban the phrase “over the top” even when discussing over the top rhetoric.

Never again must we focus on “battleground states” or even cast our eyes on a “battleground” poll.

Goodbye ad “blitzes,”  “ad wars,” and “air wars” too. Politicians shouldn’t “fire when ready” or unready. And aides should never jump on even a figurative grenade.

This is the end of to union-launched “offensives” in the “trenches” and the demise of full-on “assaults.”

Let’s not discuss the “nuclear option,” and call an end to the “wars” on poverty and cancer.

We must liberate ourselves from our “bunkers” and forget “defending our territory” electorally or metaphorically. Likewise, let us never speak again of opening a new “front” here, there or anywhere.

Since it’s left who has continually wanted to limit speech, clearly, they need to go first, and set the example for the rest of us to follow.

That’s the way Saul would have wanted it, right?