Victor Davis Hanson appends this footnote to his biting “Now what?”
Consider: 1) a divisive and hate-filled eight years of demonizing the Bush administration as Nazis deserving of commensurate punishment (recall Knopf’s Bush-snuff novel Checkpoint, the Toronto Film Festival prize going to the “docudrama” about killing Bush, and the Bush as brownshirt/Nazi motif from everyone from John Glen[n], to Al Gore); 2) the greatest liberal setback in 72 years; 3) a messianic 2008 campaign whose dénouement was worry that Bush might subvert the Constitution in his lame duck last months and not leave; and then conclude that 4) we are now to renounce labels like “racist” from the left and “socialist” from the right (note the false moral equivalence, as if there is a senatorial counterpart to Bernie Sanders from the “Racist party” or a European mainstream party is called the “Democratic Racist Party”).
We always get these quite admirable warnings that political discourse has hit a new low, that a new center of civility is needed — after a 1980-like or 2010-like election. We rarely get them in periods like 2004 when “any means necessary” is the creed to stop a Bush-Hitler or hear warnings to George Soros or Jimmy Carter to cool the hate-filled rhetoric.
When David Frum admirably calls for restraint, I am reminded that not long ago in the glory days of the Obama administration, Frum thought it necessary to counter Rush Limbaugh’s influence by invoking his one-time bout of drug dependency and weight (e.g., “his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence”). Juxtapose all that with “No Labels” and there comes disbelief at the present campaign against ad hominem invective that hampers political discourse. (By Frum’s earlier standard, Gov. Chistie’s waistline or President Obama’s confessionals about habitual use of marijuana and occasional “blow” are fair political discourse).