Where does the Right Wing draw the line in political debate?

Evidently, somewhere in the realm of Ronald Reagan.

So first there was a diary posted at DailyKos that was bumped to the front page by one of the editors. It offended by stating:

So is Osama bin Laden truly “evil?” Most people who lost family members at the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 would probably consider him to be evil. Was President Ronald Reagan evil? Most residents of Beirut who lost family members when the USS New Jersey rained 2,700 pound Mark 7 shells on residential neighborhoods in 1983 during the Lebanese Civil War probably considered Reagan to have been evil. Bottom line? Bin Laden is no more evil than other revolutionary leaders in other times or even than ordinary national leaders who propel their countries to war for “national honor,” or to acquire the resources of others, or even to “do good.”

One offended person on the right, Bill Hobbs, considered that this post meant

To translate Kos-speak: Osama bin Laden isn’t a terrorist, he’s a freedom fighter. And Reagan wasn’t a freedom fighter – he was a terrorist.

You can also tell he’s really mad that Reagan was compared to bin Laden because of the following paragraph:

DailyKos’ attempt to assert moral equivalence between a terrorist leader who masterminded the slaughter of thousands of innocents while aiding a regime that slaughtered women for showing an angle or wearing lipstick and a former American president whose tireless efforts lead to the freedom of millions from Soviet oppression is disgusting.

Actually, when I read the whole article, I see someone who sees bin Laden as “a serious and wily adversary who knows how to manipulate the Arab “street.” He analyzes bin Laden’s statement out of concern that people will underestimate him simply because he is viewed as being “crazy” or “evil.” Seeing that and looking back at the offending paragraph, I see an author who is pointing out different perspectives on how a person can be viewed as “evil,” even when that person’s supporters might view that person as a hero.

I’m not arguing I agree with everything the guy says, but I definitely agree with his overall aim – to examine the statements of someone who might be considered to be an enemy of the U.S. Still, it’s interesting how folx on the right allow themselves to make similar comparisons, such as comparing Al Gore to Hitler or calling John Kerry a traitor, but are then so offended when someone criticizes Reagan or General Petraeus.

Maybe the title of this post should be One-sided rules of political debate, as is Glenn Greenwald’s. I quite agree with the points he made in that article, like:

The right-wing site “American Thinker” — proudly included on Fred Thompson’s short blogroll, among most other places on the Right — published an article in 2005 entitled “Is Jack Murtha a Coward and a Traitor?” (answer: “Any American who recommends retreat is injuring his own country and calling his own patriotism into question”). Here is John Hinderaker of Powerline — Time’s 2004 Blog of the Year — on our country’s 39th President (and, unlike the non-serving Hinderaker, a former Naval officer): “Jimmy Carter isn’t just misguided or ill-informed. He’s on the other side.”
When Howard Dean pointed out (presciently) in December of 2005 that the Iraq War cannot be won, Michael Reagan called for Dean to “be arrested and hung for treason or put in a hole until the end of the Iraq war,” and the next day, on Fox News, alongside an approving Sean Hannity, he said: “I have no problem at all, no problem at all, with what this guy is doing, taking him out and arresting him.”

He ends with:

But as petty as the story is [referring to the moveon.org ad story], it is also revealing. It has been perfectly fine for decades to impugn the patriotism of those who think the U.S. should stop invading and bombing other countries (how could anyone possibly think such a thing unless they hate America?), while it is strictly forbidden to do anything other than pay homage to the Seriousness and Patriotism of those who advocate wars. Hence, the very people who routinely traffic in “unpatriotic” and even “treason” rhetoric towards the likes of Jack Murtha, John Kerry and war opponents generally feign such pious objection to the MoveOn ad without anyone noticing any contradiction at all.

4 thoughts on “Where does the Right Wing draw the line in political debate?

  1. If I had a nickel for every lefty Bush=Hitler comparison, I could afford to move to the Silky Pony’s America.Clearly, we both have idiots on our sides.As for the original Kos post that stimulated this foofaraw, the “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is a tired bit of the sophistry of moral equivalence. (Unlike many users of the word, I actually mean sophistry in a pretty literal sense: This blanket use of moral equivalence owes much to the sophist Protagoras, who argued that “Man is the measure of all things.”) Unless you actually believe that no value is superior to any other value (that it only matters who the man is measuring the values), and that therefore there is no difference between say, kindness and cruelty, then there is no such thing as moral equivalence. The OBL=RWR comparison is simply an egregious case.Meanwhile, I find it interesting that you will only acknowledge that OBL “might be considered to be an enemy of the US.” How many buildings does he have to knock down before he moves to being, oh, seemingly hostile? I’m sure you would be as willing to grant the benefit of the doubt to… say… Rush Limbaugh, who at least has never advocated turning airliners into suicide bombs.

  2. I thought you might focus on the “might” there. I actually do think OBL is an enemy. But I intended my statement to be taken in the general sense – that someone can examine the statements of an enemy, any potential enemy, without necessarily meaning to approve of or defend that enemy.My point is more along the lines of so what? Why does the fact that this guy did this diary on DailyKos discredit the whole site for the good work it otherwise does for the progressives and liberals in politics (aside from the fact that you don’t like progressives and liberals)? It’s really no different than the situation on the right — we can find comments and commentators on Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Malkin, LGF and elsewhere who have opinions just as offensive to us on the left. Trying to tie one to the other is just another way for folx on the right (or left for that matter, although we usually do it in response to an attack, see O’Reilly vs. Kos) trying to take political advantage by bringing down supporters from the other side. We can of course play that game, it’ll end up a draw, though, I suspect. But, really, let’s focus on your repeated use of the term “Silky Pony.” I’m not sure what a little girl’s toy from the 80’s has to do with our conversation.

  3. I call Edwards the Silky Pony because, like the 80s toy:1. He’s pretty.2. He’s plastic.3. He doesn’t belong in the Oval Office.Also, it takes too long to type “the ambulance-chaser and occasional medium for dead babies who occupies a Biltmorean estate and presumes to speak for the litle guy, who hides behind the skirts of his terminally ill wife when he’s challenged, and who represents still another effort to get government into even more facets of my life en route to a nanny stste.” Although I suppose I could set up a macro.As for the so what, in view of the good that the Kossacks have done for the left: By the same token, we can acknowledge that National Review has done as much for the right. But it’s worth noting that NR has had no problem with denouncing egregious bloviators, from Ayn Rand and the Birchers to Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter (whom they fired when she grew even more unhinged after 9/11.) In short, the folks at NR have historically realized that when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas, and have acted accordingly. Markos apparently feels otherwise, but lending his imprimatur to the kind of nonsense we’re discussing does little for his ethos.Finally, the fact that you and I remain the dearest of friends would seem to belie the proposition that I “don’t like progressives and liberals.” In fact, many of my friends are to my left. I like you all, and love some of you. I think your policies are wrong-headed and pernicious, and I’ll do what I can to oppose them, but I do like you.

  4. I’m going to leave the rest of the stuff alone for now and rush to the defense of Edwards, at least based on the criticisms you make. I will most likely not resort to cheap shots against your preferred candidate, Grandpa Fred, but will leave that for another time (or is the Grandpa moniker a cheap shot?).I come at the law and politics from some sort of innate desire to make things (where I can) fair and just, for me and mine primarily (I’m not totally altruistic) but also for people in general. I am genuinely moved and sometimes outraged by stories I read or hear of people being screwed over by the system or where people are just so down that they need a hand to get back up. Sometimes those stories end with a good samaritan helping out and sometimes its just a tragic story. When I was going through law school, my ex-wife had a friend whose husband got into some trouble with the law. Normally something that would not require jail time or even a felony conviction, but because the purported victim in the case a) had money, and b) had political connections, this fellow was sent away for an egregious amount of time. Since I was in law school when that was going on, it had a real impact on the feeling I had about being a lawyer and being able to help people. I had similar experiences when I was a military defense counsel, where I was the only thing standing between my client and a totally out of proportion to the crime outcome for that client’s future. And sometimes my help wasn’t even enough.In the world of lawyers, plaintiff’s attorneys get a bad rap. Sure many of them are out for the money, just as there are CEOs and other businessmen on the other side of that courtroom who are also just about the money. But there are also such attorneys, a group which I believe includes John Edwards, who also work as plaintiff’s attorneys because of the good that they can do, the help that they can give. So where you see an “ambulance-chaser” I see someone who is fighting the good fight.Did he make a lot of money in his profession, sure. Not sure how I see that’s a bad thing, unless you’re saying it’s dirty money because he made it as a plaintiff’s attorney. I thought that folx on the right were ok with capitalism and making money? As to the fact that he “presumes to speak for the little guy,” I don’t see how the wealth and trying to help the little guy are mutually exclusive. He comes from a modest background, as opposed to some in politics, and I know he tries to use that as the wedge to show that he does know what it feels like. But, I guess I ask the question, why can’t he try to speak for the little guy? No one who runs for president has a modest income, so it seems you then can’t allow any of the candidates to try and be able to help the poor based on that criterion. I think the poor need someone to talk for them, to try and help them. I think he is sincere in bringing the issue of poverty to the forefront and is sincere in wanting to help people.As for the medium for dead babies, I’m not sure what you’re talking about here unless it’s his own loss as a parent. And the skirts of his terminally ill wife. To some extent he’s just being a politician with these issues — what politician doesn’t try to capitalize on his own life experiences as a way to show voters that he’d be the best to do X? And it seems you’re just using the girly/weak language to describe Edwards that many on the right do. If you don’t think he’s MAN enough to be president, then just say so. At least it would be a little less passive aggressive. But I have no problem with his wife being a partner and integral part of his campaign. (insert some comment here about Fred Thompson and his hot “trophy wife” — or is that a cheap shot?)As to the nanny state comment, I’m sure we’re not going to find much common ground here. I think government does good for people. If government isn’t working the way it should, the answer is not to eliminate the government, but to fix it. The last 7 years of poor government have been as a result of the fact that people who don’t like government and, therefore, don’t know how to govern, have been in charge. So that’s another reason why for the forseeable future I’ll vote for the party that wants to make government work.

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