Post by Barb May
The Civility Pledge
* will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.
* will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.
* will stand against incivility when I see it.
Did Vice President Biden liken Tea Party Republicans to terrorists in a
meeting with House Democrats? Eyewitnesses say yes, but he denies it,
Biden was agreeing with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike
Doyle (D-Pa.) at a two-hour, closed-door Democratic Caucus
"We have negotiated with terrorists," an angry Doyle said,
according to sources in the room. "This small group of
terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money."
Biden, driven by his Democratic allies' misgivings about the
debt-limit deal, responded: "They have acted like terrorists."
Biden's office initially declined to comment about what the
vice president said inside the closed-door session, but after
Politico published the remarks, spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff
said: "The word was used by several members of Congress. The
vice president does not believe it's an appropriate term in
Whether Biden said it or not, all parties seem to agree that Doyle and
perhaps other House Democrats did. And plenty of prominent elite
liberals have sounded the theme. It's become commonplace on the opinion
pages of the New York Times, where Joe Nocera rants:
You know what they say: Never negotiate with terrorists. It
only encourages them. These last few months, much of the
country has watched in horror as the Tea Party Republicans
have waged jihad on the American people. . . . Their goal,
they believed, was worth blowing up the country for, if that's
what it took. . . . For now, the Tea Party Republicans can
put aside their suicide vests. But rest assured: They'll have
them on again soon enough.
Last Wednesday Thomas Friedman described the Tea Party as the GOP's
"Hezbollah faction." The same day Maureen Dowd approvingly quoted "some
Democrats" as describing the Tea Party as "the Republican 'Taliban
wing.' " (In fairness we should note that the Times's Roger Cohen
registered a partial dissent: "Hatred of Muslims . . . is a growing
political industry. It's odious, dangerous and racist.")
And it's not just the Times. NewsBusters.org quotes liberal Bloomberg
columnist Margaret Carlson: "There's a nihilist caucus which is,
'Listen, we want to burn the place down.' I mean, they're not, they've
strapped explosives to the Capitol and they think they are immune from
it." NewsButsers also notes a cartoon from David Fitzsimmons of the
(Tucson) Arizona Daily Star depicting President Obama ordering Navy
SEALs to stage a bin Laden-style raid on the House side of the Capitol.
Politico itself got into the act, running two op-eds last week on the
theme: "The Tea Party Taliban" by Martin Frost (a Democratic
ex-congressman) and "The Tea Party's Terrorist Tactics" by William
Yeomans, former chief counsel to Sen. Ted Kennedy. Mary Jo Kopechne's
former chief counsel could not be reached for comment.
Hey, what ever happened to civility?
That's not a rhetorical question. Back in January, after a madman shot
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a crowd of her constituents, gravely
wounding her and killing six, the liberal elite briefly developed an
obsession with the supposed dangers of uncivil political rhetoric.
Before a suspect had even been identified, as we noted Jan. 10,
Fitzsimmons, the Tucson cartoonist, was on CNN blaming "the right in
Arizona" for "stoking the fire of heated anger and rage" and making the
attack "inevitable." Fitzsimmons later apologized, but former Enron
adviser Paul Krugman did not. Sources inside Krugman's head told him
that the Tea Party dunnit:
For those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind
Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target,
the answer is that she's a Democrat who survived what was
otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the
Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist.
These stories were false--which didn't stop the Times from publishing an
editorial scapegoating conservatives for the Tucson shooting after it
was clear the suspect had no recognizable political motive. And Krugman
not only did not apologize for his error but dowdified a quote from Rep.
Michele Bachmann so as to charge her falsely with employing
There were many other examples, including Hendrik Hertzberg of The New
Yorker, who complained of "shocking vituperation and hatred, virtually
all of it coming from people who call themselves conservatives." When
his fellow liberals falsely accused conservatives of mass murder,
Hertzberg was unshocked. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter had Giffords's future
all planned out:
Sad to say, if Giffords had died, she would have been mourned
and soon the conversation would have moved on. But Giffords
lives, thank God, which offers other possibilities. We won't
know for weeks or months whether she can function in public.
If she can, she will prove a powerful referee of the boundaries
of public discourse--more influential, perhaps, than the
Then it was February, and the liberal elite lost all interest in
policing "the boundaries of public discourse." The faux goo-goo group
Common Cause held a rally where participants urged the lynching of
Supreme Court justices. Liberals--including at least one Democratic
congressman--employed actual violent rhetoric against Wisconsin's Gov.
Scott Walker, whose state budget reforms stripped government employee
unions of many of their expensive privileges.
And now, of course, all of liberaldom is likening the Tea Party to
terrorists. But really, that message is entirely consistent with the one
in January, and indeed with the message the liberal elite has been
propagating since the early days of the Obama administration: that the
Tea Party is illegitimate.
"Terrorist," "racist," "uncivil," "insane," the list goes on--in this
context, these words have no real meaning. They are mere epithets. The
Obama presidency has reduced the liberal left to an apoplectic rage. His
Ivy League credentials, superior attitude, pseudointellectual mien and
facile adherence to lefty ideology make him the perfect personification
of the liberal elite. Thus far at least, he has been an utter failure
both at winning public support and at managing the affairs of the
Obama's failure is the failure of the liberal elite, and that is why
their ressentiment has reached such intensity. Their ideas, such as they
are, are being put to a real-world test and found severely wanting. As a
result, their authority is collapsing. And if there is one thing they
know deep in their bones, it is that they are entitled to that
authority. They lash out, desperately and pathetically, because they
have nothing to offer but fear and anger.
The House erupted in applause as Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
returned to DC and voted in favor of the bill. It was her first
appearance on Capitol Hill since being shot last January.
Meanwhile, some wonderful news: Thanks to America's superlative medical
system, Rep. Giffords has recovered sufficiently that she returned to
Congress last night to cast a vote on the debt deal. She looked frail
and shaky as she exchanged greetings with colleagues from both sides of
the aisle, but she also talked and waved and seemed completely alert.
Even watching at home on C-Span, it was hard not to be moved. "The
#Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight,"
Giffords tweeted last night.
Giffords voted "yes" on the bill--the one to which the Tea Party
"terrorists" had forced the president to agree
"If Barack Obama isn't careful, he will become the Jimmy Carter of the