Roger L. Simon

The Language and the Rage

A number of people have remarked on the extreme Lieberman-bashing on Firedoglake yesterday. The writer – with whose work I am not overly familiar but who is clearly full of rage toward the Connecticut Senator – calls Lieberman “Rape Gurney Joe,” an apparent reference to the reviled “Tail Gunner Joe” [McCarthy]. Evidently Lieberman has defended the post-rape policies of Catholic hospitals, which this blogger (FDL) finds anathema. Now I don’t know where Lieberman really stands on this issue in detail. It is certainly a complex one because those of us who are particularly staunch on church-state separation (traditionally a liberal position) might find ourselves constrained to defend the Catholics, although we might not agree with their pro-life policies, especially in this instance.

But those are the fine points. What interests me most in this is not so much the issue as the intensity of the rage directed at Lieberman. On the surface much of this comes from his well known apostasy on the war, which has become the litmus test of litmus tests to many Democrats. An attempt was clearly being made here to do a kind of “false in one, false in all” blur-spread, further tarnishing Lieberman’s already sullied reputation with the liberal priesthood. If he’s bad on the war, he’s bad on everything, doncha know?

This is the kind of political thinking that is so primitive it’s hard to honor it with the word “thinking” at all. In her blindness, Firedoglike also employs language like “fucking” and so forth to make her points. Of course, this kind of argumentation convinces no one. It only speaks to the choir. And that seems to be intentional. The choir is the audience. The justification for that is that it “revs up the base.” Well, maybe. But at the same time it alienates almost everybody else. And the unconscious/conscious intention may be just that. An apocalyptic impulse lurks very close to the surface here. The ship may be going down, but we’re going down with it – and we’re right!

And, yes, make no mistake about it, the ship is very close to going down. You need go no further than this morning’s top story – N.Y. tunnel plot uncovered – to realize what a deep hole the Democratic Party has dug for itself. At the end of CNN’s coverage, we find New York State Senator Schumer plaintively opining: “You have to take every one of these plots seriously.” Well, yeah, duh. You certainly do. The problem is – Schumer and his fellow Democrats (except for Lieberman and a handful of others) have shown a fundamental lack of seriousness on the issue. Democrats can console themselves with Bush’s poll numbers. Think for a moment, however, about an ’08 election pitting a John McCain or a Rudy Giuliani against a Kerry or a Gore or even a Hillary. Political armageddon. Firedoglake has a right to feel frustrated. But if she wants to win, she should wise up.