Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fasten Your Seatbelts

We are in for a ride until the November elections. The hunting season for liberals has started. You better wear an orange hat with a little picture of an elephant wearing a cross and an "I love Bush" sticker if you don't want to be confused with the Islamofascists and their abetters, the secret enemy amongst us. The fifth column. Us.

You can see that I'm still thinking about Michael Barone's little piece. It's such an odd combination: an absolute crock of shit, full of lies and incredibly stretched borrowings from the Great White Hunter's own propaganda (Bush is the Great White Hunter today, because I like to imagine him on one of those touristy safaris, wearing a little plastic helmet while sitting in the jeep). At the same time, while it's written in the most simplistic language possible, restating idiocies as established wisdom, it also says something very different in an emotional language, and it is that something which made it hard for me to sleep last night.

A certain type of idealism is hard to shed. I still like to think of the citizens of a country having something in common with each other when they debate politics. I fervently hope that all such citizens do want what is best for their country, even if their visions of that goodness vary, and I also want to believe that the political debates are debates within the larger family that is the nation: constructive even when vigorous, respectful even in disagreement.

But none of this applies to the hardcore wingnuts of which Michael Barone is such a prime example. For him it is we who are the real enemy. Not the terrorists but we, those people who dare to disagree on the policies of this administration. It is treasonous to have different opinions. It is sacrilege to suggest that some policies are not working. We are The Enemy because we disagree.

All this troubles my ideological side and the side which believes in respect and fairness. Sure, I know that politics has never been an especially clean game. Sure, I know that politicians bend the rules and benefit from smearing their opponents, and the same goes for political pundits. But to paint half of the country (for that's what it amounts to) as covert enemies of the country! And nary a peep of outrage from anyone outside the liberal blogosphere.

So now it is valid to define a large chunk of the citizenry as enemies of All That is Good And Holy, and the media critics don't rise up and shout about the incoherent anger of the conservatives. Michael Barone never wrote "fuck you", after all, though he wasn't too far from the kind of writing and speaking that preceded the Rwanda genocides.

Isn't it interesting that for me to add that last sentence is probably a much worse thing than anything Barone said in his peace, because I pulled in something that actually happened after a long time period of hate speech in a country? Because I'm essentially asking if Barone would like to go down that road, with his other friends writing similar missives. When one puts it that boldly it's impossible to pretend that all one is doing is playing a nice game of politics.

Real people get hurt in these games, even innocent real people. This is the sort of thing that can keep a goddess awake during the long hours of the night.