The Washington Post published today an article by Rick Perlstein, titled 'In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition: Birthers, Town Hall Hecklers and the Return of Right-Wing Rage'.
What's most interesting about this article isn't what it says, but the approach it takes to the problem of dissent from President Obama's health-care proposals. I'm reminded of a famous maxim often heard in law schools: "When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both the law and the facts are against you, assassinate the character of the witness."
Perlstein proceeds to attempt a typically Left-wing character assassination of those who oppose the Obamacare proposals by trying to paint them all as extremists. Here are a few excerpts to illustrate my point.
So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are "either" the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests.
. . .
Before the "black helicopters" of the 1990s, there were right-wingers claiming access to secret documents from the 1920s proving that the entire concept of a "civil rights movement" had been hatched in the Soviet Union; when the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was introduced, one frequently read in the South that it would "enslave" whites. And back before there were Bolsheviks to blame, paranoids didn't lack for subversives -- anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists even had their own powerful political party in the 1840s and '50s.
The instigation is always the familiar litany: expansion of the commonweal to empower new communities, accommodation to internationalism, the heightened influence of cosmopolitans and the persecution complex of conservatives who can't stand losing an argument. My personal favorite? The federal government expanded mental health services in the Kennedy era, and one bill provided for a new facility in Alaska. One of the most widely listened-to right-wing radio programs in the country, hosted by a former FBI agent, had millions of Americans believing it was being built to intern political dissidents, just like in the Soviet Union.
So, crazier then, or crazier now? Actually, the similarities across decades are uncanny. When Adlai Stevenson spoke at a 1963 United Nations Day observance in Dallas, the Indignation forces thronged the hall, sweating and furious, shrieking down the speaker for the television cameras. Then, when Stevenson was walked to his limousine, a grimacing and wild-eyed lady thwacked him with a picket sign. Stevenson was baffled. "What's the matter, madam?" he asked. "What can I do for you?" The woman responded with self-righteous fury: "Well, if you don't know I can't help you."
The various elements -- the liberal earnestly confused when rational dialogue won't hold sway; the anti-liberal rage at a world self-evidently out of joint; and, most of all, their mutual incomprehension -- sound as fresh as yesterday's news.
. . .
The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America's flora. Only now, it's being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest.
There's much more at the link.
Note that Mr. Perlstein never once admits, or is prepared to concede, that opponents of Obamacare may possibly have any sort of logic, or rationality, or reason on their side. No, that's the preserve of the Left. To oppose Obamacare must necessarily mean that one is part of the lunatic fringe - the 'birthers', the 'anti-tax tea-partiers', the 'town hall hecklers'. There's no suggestion that the views of those opposed to Obamacare have any validity, any viability, any factual foundation. No, it's fanaticism. That's all it can be. That's all there is to it.
The trouble is, there are many on the Left who truly believe this crock of bull. They are convinced that logic, reason, compassion and sheer humanity are on their side, and that anyone motivated by one or more of these factors must necessarily agree with them. They cannot conceive that many of us who would claim at least a modicum of logic, rationality, compassion and humanity hold a world view diametrically opposed to theirs, with at least as much validity, and at least as much right to be heard.
That's why the opinions of elitist Leftists like Mr. Perlstein are so important - and so dangerous. They're important to help us understand that these people are truly blind to reality. They're dangerous because such articles help to convince other elitist Leftists of the rightness of their position, and the wrongness of everyone else's. Unless we stand up to be counted, and point out the errors in their logic, reasoning and assumptions, they'll go on living in the cloud cuckoo land of their own presumed perfection, ignore our opposition, and steamroller through Congress measures we can't support and will not tolerate.
That's a recipe for the Second American Civil War. Let's not go there.