Eleanor Clift joins the effort to discredit all attacks on Democrats as smears by looking at history.
The Republican formula hasn't changed much in the almost four decades since the Nixon campaign branded George McGovern the candidate of the three A's--acid, amnesty and abortion. McGovern, still trim and agile at 86, explained to an audience of political buffs at the National Press Club this week how that caricature took hold, and what little resemblance it bore to his positions on those issues. "I told my staff we don't have to answer this stuff," he said, adding, "I was wrong."
McGovern thought his views on these issues spoke for themselves. He opposed legalizing hard drugs, but he thought marijuana possession should be a misdemeanor, not a felony. He opposed amnesty in the midst of a war, but said he would look at it after the war ended, telling protesters, "It's the law of the land. If you don't want to go, be prepared to go to jail." His position on abortion was conservative; he thought it should be left up to the states.
President Nixon wouldn't debate him or even risk appearing in the same city. "Judging by the results, I don't know what he was afraid of," McGovern quipped. Nixon won in a landslide. The Vietnam War raged on and McGovern was dubbed a peacenik. He had been a decorated bomber pilot in World War II, service he didn't showcase. He didn't think his love of country or his patriotism would ever be questioned.
I would not be surprised if Nixon smeared McGovern. Nixon was a disastrous president in many ways, the ultimate pragmatist who governed by the seat of his pants. But I don't think Nixon's paranoid smears were as important as McGovern's weaknesses.
I was 15 years old in 1972. In many ways I was your typical public-educated idiot. I was not interested in politics. I was interested in playing Rock'n'Roll, acting in plays, drinking Schlitz and smoking -- tobacco and, er, other stuff. My education came later, after I read Atlas Shrugged at age 20 and became interested in the world of ideas.
I remember one thing about McGovern. This memory might not be accurate through the haze of 36 years, but it's what I remember: McGovern promised to give everyone in America $1,000. (I don't know if I remember this from 1972 or from later reading about McGovern in a bound edition of The Ayn Rand Letter.)
Now, since McGovern did not himself have that kind of money to throw around, where would it come from? From taxpayers. It was a redistribution scheme, taking from the rich and giving to the less rich and the poor. It was a crude attempt to buy votes.
Ironically, this year the government gave everyone $600. The Republicans today have almost descended to where McGovern was in 1972. Today America is more corrupt and statist than it was in 1972. Back then McGovern's redistribution scheme was novel and somewhat shocking. It was seen for what it was: socialism. (Thanks to Bush and today's Republicans for blurring that truth! Too bad there's not a hell because the entire party deserves to rot in it.)
I don't remember Nixon's idiocy about McGovern. I remember McGovern's idiocy. The American people were smart enough in 1972 to understand who McGovern really was. He represented the left wing of the party, the New Left that now controls the party. Back then there were still right-wing Democrats, and McGovern was not one of them. Nobody needed Nixon's help to see this.
The notion that for 36 years Democrats have lost mainly because of Republican smears and playing on the fears of voters is not true. It's a gross underestimation of voter rationality. It's the kind of thing liberal-leftists tell themselves in order to evade the truth.
The simple truth is that the Democrats are to the left of the American people. This reality might be changing or it might not. The New Leftist ideologies -- multiculturalism, environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, and so on -- are indoctrinated into Americans throughout their public education (government schooling). At the same time, religion is spreading and growing stronger in our culture. How all this is changing America we don't know yet, but I fear some ghastly mutant will arise from this swamp of collectivism-altruism-mysticism -- a monstrous hybrid of environmentalism and religion. It will be a creed dedicated to renunciation of life on Earth in the name of God and the Holy Spotted Owl.
The Democrats don't want to examine their ideas, so they blame their losses on Republican smears. This is partly projection; as emotionalists and irrationalists, they have lost confidence in reason. They believe lies and character assassination are metaphysically potent, whereas reason is just a game philosophers play in their ivory towers.
The left's obsession with smears is based on a profound contempt for the American people. It makes sense, given their collectivist premise: the people are a helpless, only temporarily able mass that must be taken care of from cradle to grave by the wise altruists of the state. Such creatures would be incapable of reason. Democrats take the fact that many Americans vote for Republicans as evidence that they are not smart enough to vote for their self-interest. After all, Democrats think, we'll take care of you! Those cruel Republicans will send you out alone into the snow.
As I noted in the comments to my last post, this entire campaign against right-wing books is not about answering lies with reason. Instead of answering their critics, the left is trying to shut them up by discrediting the very idea of anti-Democrat books.
They are fighting what they call smears with a smear campaign. Their main focus is not to answer point for point using reason to find the truth. Their goal is to make people associate books against Democrats with smears. The MSM is chugging away, hoping that if they repeat this notion enough times, it will become... what's the word? Not the truth, because there is no objective truth in postmodern philosophy. They hope this notion will become our collectively accepted narrative.