John’s post here yesterday on Howard Dean’s scurrilous charge that “Republicans aren’t American” sent me back to the Archives of Political RhetoricTM, where we discover that this kind of language from Democrats is far from new. Take, for example, this passage from my Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents: From Wilson to Obama:
During his first re-election campaign in 1936, Franklin Roosevelt demonized the Republican Party, suggesting Republicans were anti-American, and compared Republicans to the Tories of the Revolutionary War who left the country. Clearly FDR was trying to read the Republican Party out of the mainstream of American political life. In his 1944 speech outlining the positive rights he wanted government to provide for everyone, Roosevelt wasn’t satisfied merely to set out these “new principles” of government. He went on to imply that Republican opposition to his philosophy was the equivalent of the Fascism we were fighting against overseas. He did so with the clever tactic of attributing this thought to someone other than himself:
“One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.” (Emphasis added.)
So even during wartime when the country was supposedly caught up on a spirit of unity for the war effort, Roosevelt exploited the war for partisan purposes. Roosevelt’s speeches like this are worth remembering when contemporary liberals claim “divisive” conservatives are “questioning their patriotism.”
Here’s what FDR said in the 1936 campaign:
There are two ways of viewing the government’s duty in matters affecting economic and social life. The first sees to it that a favored few are helped and hopes that some of their prosperity will leak through, sift through, to labor, to the farmer, to the small businessman. That theory belongs to the party of Toryism, and I had hoped that most of the Tories left this country in 1776. (Emphasis added.)
The message here is not terribly subtle: Republicans are anti-American. So Dean the Scream is just following in the footsteps of FDR. How long until Dean or some other deranged Democrat starts suggesting Republicans should leave the country?