Outside View: Rubbishing the Right

By PETER J. PITTS  |  Aug. 17, 2002 at 6:02 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- "Not all Republicans are stupid," goes the old saw, "But most stupid people are Republicans." It wasn't true when Woodrow Wilson said it and it's not true today --- despite on-going Liberal propaganda to the contrary.

Therefore "Hurrah!" for Ann Coulter and her new book "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right" in which she takes on the New American Left's continuing dishonest, disingenuous and despicable name-calling and ad hominem character assassination of any and all Republicans.

According to Coulter, "stupid" means one thing to the Liberal establishment: "threatening to Democratic interests." She pulls no punches in pointing out unequal treatment of both officials and candidates of both major political persuasions. "Every conservative public figure would need a full-time investigative and legal staff to refute the endless stream of defamatory attacks. Meanwhile it takes DNA evidence that the president lied under oath to get the media to take note of malfeasance by a fellow liberal."

When Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush was unable to answer a Boston reporter's pop quiz question of "Who is the President of Cameroon?' he was lambasted on the editorial pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times as seriously lacking in intellectual prowess. But when Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, on a visit to Thomas Jefferson's historic home Monticello, pointed to sculptures of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and asked the curator, "Who are those guys?" only one newspaper, USA Today, reported the gaffe.

Can you name the President of Cameroon?

When then-Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton confused a Patriot missile with a cruise missile, Vice President Dan Quayle quipped, "He knows less about national security than I do about spelling." Never heard that one? Don't be surprised. Democrat word stumbles are hard to come by --- because the media doesn't report them. Here are a few to remember:

-- "Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, 'Thank God I'm alive.' But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again."-- Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.

-- "I always wait until a jury has spoken until I anticipate what they will do." -- Democratic former Attorney General Janet Reno

-- "A zebra cannot change its spots."-- Former Democratic Vice President, then Sen. Al Gore.

-- "They've managed to keep their unemployment low although their overall unemployment is high." -- Democratic former President Bill Clinton.

In a single New York Times profile, a presidential candidate was repeatedly quoted using such as expressions as "That's no good for sure" and "Isn't she cool?" Telling a reporter he wanted to discuss "big think" ideas, he stammered, "I can't say this, it's going to sound so weird." That was intellectual colossus Al Gore. And what do you think was the title of the ensuing article? "Is Gore too smart to be president?" Go figure.

Coulter makes that case that ad hominem attack is the liberal's idea of political debate. Liberals remain outside the argument of issues, preferring instead making snippy personal comments about anyone who doesn't agree with them. A Republican's motives are analyzed, his intelligence critiqued, his personal life unearthed. If it were true that conservatives were racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist, stupid, inflexible, angry, and self-righteous, shouldn't their arguments be easy to deconstruct rather than the arguer be dismembered?

Bryan Gumbel. Hosting The Today Show, he asked Congressman J.C. Watts, a Republican, "Doesn't it bother you to be associated with conservative extremists who are historically insensitive to minority concerns?"

Why lie and slander? Consider Coulter's position, "Liberals have been wrong about everything in the last half century ... It is not an accident that, today, the left's single biggest cause is global warming. This time, conservatives won't be able to prove them wrong for a thousand years."

Political discourse has always and will always be heated -- but we would all be better off if it we're also considerably more respectful.

-- Peter J. Pitts is a senior fellow at the Institute for Strategic Communications and an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University's School for Public and Environmental Affairs.

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