And Speaking Of Protests And Hypocrisy . . .

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 10, 2009

Debra Saunders is right on the money:

Imagine it’s four years ago and an aide to President George W. Bush posted a blog on the Whitehouse.gov Web site that bemoaned Internet criticism of the Iraq war, then continued: “These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain e-mails or through casual conversations.

Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an e-mail or see something on the Web about anti-war protests that seem fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

Substitute the words “health insurance reform” for “anti-war protests,” and you get the exact wording of a blog posted by Macon Phillips, the White House director of new media, on Tuesday.

“I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward e-mails critical of his politics to the White House,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote in a letter to President Obama. “I suspect that you would have been leading the charge in condemning such a program.”

No lie.

Now I don’t think Obamaland was working on an “enemies list” – as some conservatives have charged. But I do want to note how deftly the left has abandoned its old rallying cry, “Dissent is patriotic.”

And so she does. Quite well, in fact. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The stuff Jon Henke digs up can be found by anyone patient and talented enough to do a good Google search–which leads me to wonder why people on the port side of the political divide don’t think that we will find it.

  • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

    Not that you (and Ms. Saunders) have absolutely no point here. But, you know, there are some pretty obvious material distinctions. For instance, no one (as far as I know) has been accused of treason for opposing health care reform. Dissent isn't fraught with the same kinds of risk in every given policy area. This is easy to see by considering another analogy: keep everything the same, and use any President you like, but make the substantive area under scrutiny (say) the Feds new parking policy. Same result?

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    Oh, actually, yes there have been accusations of treason. Or at least, accusations that opponents of health care reform are un-American. I trust that is close enough to an accusation of treason, no?

  • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

    You chopped off the prepositional phrase “…for opposing health care.” To wit, what I said was that no one is being accused of treason (or “being un-American”) for opposing health care.

    The quotation op-ed you link to does not rebut my contention in the least; the statement Pelosi and Hoyer make is this: “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.” I'm inclined to agree with that statement, though your mileage may vary.

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    That's not all Pelosi and Hoyer wrote, however. They didn't just write a plea for civility. They also made an argument for their policies, and stated that the “un-American” protesters are afraid “of the facts themselves,” which supposedly is the reason why they need to “drown out” opposing views. The protesters are not merely being called “un-American” for their behavior. Their very political stances are being tied in a none-too-subtle way to their supposed “un-Americanness.”

    But let's assume for the sake of argument that I am wrong, and you are right. <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/opinion/07krugman.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all”Here is another accusation concerning the protesters, one that claims that they are racists:

    Now, people who don’t know that Medicare is a government program probably aren’t reacting to what President Obama is actually proposing. They may believe some of the disinformation opponents of health care reform are spreading, like the claim that the Obama plan will lead to euthanasia for the elderly. (That particular claim is coming straight from House Republican leaders.) But they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.

    That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don’t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a substantial fraction.

    And cynical political operators are exploiting that anxiety to further the economic interests of their backers.

    Does this sound familiar? It should: it’s a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites.

    Of course, all of this discussion is far afield from the original point Saunders rightly makes; namely, that dissent is no longer seen as being as patriotic as it was portrayed when George W. Bush was President.

  • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

    Observing that the birther and bagger movements are fraught with “cultural and racial anxiety” seems like an almost trivially true observation from this distance. But, as you say, it's one far afield from the point Saunders attempts (rightly or wrongly) to make.

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    Come now. You are smart enough to see that Krugman tried to smear health care protesters as racists without a shred of proof.

  • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

    We seem to be talking past each other. I think there are two explanations for the phenomenon on the table. Yours (I take it) is that it's the result of well-founded concerns based on well-understood facts about government-run institutions. The other (Krugman's) is that it's an epiphenomenon of “cultural and racial anxiety.” I think the latter explanation is the better one. That observation does not “smear health care protesters [much less "dissenters"] as racists.” It merely contends that racial resentments are probably a substantial factor for a substantial number of them. I don't find that contention difficult to credit. Of course Democrats have racial and cultural resentments at well (its “crazification factor”), but the vector of these resentments seems broader to me, and in any case seems much more marginalized in the case of the Democratic party than it is in the case of the Republican Party. And I think the difference of degree is enough to make it a difference in kind.

    The last word is yours, if you care to take it.

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    The difference between us, I guess, is that I don't see a difference between “they are racists,” and “they have cultural and racial anxieties that cause them to take certain political positions in response to the presence and actions of the first African-American President the United States has ever had.” I would be willing to credit the latter observation if a shred of proof was proffered in support of it. None was.

    As for racial resentments in the Democratic party, I would hardly call it “marginalized,” given the events surrounding the Dubai Ports World affair. None of us are really going to go through the charade of pretending that if the foreign company in question was based in Europe, rather than in the Arab Middle East, the same controversy would have arisen nonetheless, are we? And none of us are really going to go through the charade of pretending that the anti-Arab bigotry present in the DPW tempest was “marginalized” when people like Charles Schumer, and Rahm Emanuel readily partook in using anti-Arab prejudice to further the political prospects of the Democratic party, are we?

  • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

    Re paragraph 1: That certainly is one difference. (Clarificatory question: The second sentence appearing in quotation marks is of your own authorship, yes?)

    Re paragraph 2: Yes, the reaction to the Dubai Ports affair was ridiculous. Then again, the ridiculousness was bipartisan. (I'll see your Schumer and Emanuel and raise you Frist and Hastert.) In any case, the moderate hysteria that attended the Dubai Ports affair is not an apt analogy to the Orgy of the Death Panels, the “moderate” part having been thoroughly discarded.

    Last word's yours.

  • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

    Re paragraph 1: That certainly is one difference. (Clarificatory question: The second sentence appearing in quotation marks is of your own authorship, yes?)

    Re paragraph 2: Yes, the reaction to the Dubai Ports affair was ridiculous. Then again, the ridiculousness was bipartisan. (I'll see your Schumer and Emanuel and raise you Frist and Hastert.) In any case, the moderate hysteria that attended the Dubai Ports affair is not an apt analogy to the Orgy of the Death Panels, the “moderate” part having been thoroughly discarded.

    Last word's yours.

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