“The closer we get, the more desperate they get,” President Obama said in a recent speech denouncing Republicans debt limit strategy. “I mean, over the last few weeks the rhetoric has just been cranked up to a place that I’ve never seen before.”
Obama is right, the rhetoric has been trumped up to a level that does a disservice not only to the national policy debate, but to the political process as well. But spare us the sanctimony. President Obama’s lamentable hypocrisy on the issue is one of the main variables preventing us from making any progress. As Jonah Goldberg writes for National Review:
Whenever President Obama says anything about how to make this country better, it’s always about how other people need to change. We desperately need people willing to compromise in this country, he loves to say, and that’s why I won’t negotiate with Republicans. We need people who care about the common good, he insists, that’s why you all need to agree with me. We need a new tone, which is why the hatemongers and ignoramuses in the Republican party should talk nicer about me.
Inevitably, what is left out of both the president’s pleas and the media’s reporting is the hateful, ignorant speech being spewed by the political left daily.
In just the past two days multiple prominent Democrats have thrown a policy conversation to the side, instead choosing to engage in ad hominem attacks against Republicans.
On Wednesday, Rep. Peter King (D-Ny) claimed Sen. Ted Cruz was committing “governmental terrorism” by engaging in a 21-hour filibuster in an attempt to draw attention to Obamacare. Former Vice President Al Gore giddily mimicked the phrase on Friday, calling the Republican effort to defund Obamacare in the debate over the continuing resolution “political terrorism.”
White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer took the metaphor one step further. “What [the Obama Administration} is not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest,” Pfeiffer said on CNN.
Unsatisfied with the jab, he then characterized the GOP as arsonists: “It is not a negotiation if I show up at your house and say, ‘Give me everything inside or I’m going to burn it down.” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was more direct in the analogy, labeling her GOP colleagues “legislative arsonists” in a fundraising email.
Points for originality go to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). While most Democrats stuck to “terrorists” to fill the blank in the “Republicans are like _____” –game, Harkin went the anarchists route. “That is the path they see for taking over the government,” Harkin remarked. It’s dangerous, very dangerous. . . Every bit as dangerous as the break up and the Civil War.”
Sadly, this rhetoric is mostly a recycled and re-heated version of the name-calling that happened in 2011. Back when prominent columnist Thomas Friedman called Tea Partiers the “Hezbollah faction” who were desperate to engage in a “suicide mission.” When Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa) labeled the GOP a “small group of terrorists,” to which Vice President Joe Biden agreed with by responding, “They have acted like terrorists.” Rep. Emanuel Clever (D-Mo) did them all one better by comparing Republicans to the Prince of Darkness himself. “This deal is a sugar-coated satan sandwich,” an apparently press-starved Clever said.
But nobody could top Nancy Pelosi in a competition for being over the top. “What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget,” Pelosi said. “We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it today.”
President Obama finished his point about the needlessly amped up rhetoric that we mentioned earlier in a very fitting way. “All of this would be funny if it wasn’t so crazy,” Obama said. His words were aimed at Republicans, but maybe they’d be better served if hey were spoken into a mirror.