"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
It occurred to me last night while watching the Reagan biography on The American Experience. Then-Gov. Reagan was speaking out against the radicals who had laid siege to Berkeley, and the story was told how he had recognized one of the agitators, a Marxist organizer, from his Hollywood union days 20 years before. It struck me that the spirit of the Totalitarian Left -- call it Stalinist, even call it Fascist, if you like – that led radicals to shut down campuses to further their demands, to take over buildings, to shout down speakers, to denounce as monsters those who advocated different policies and points of view, to villify the other side, has survived to this day and done more than any competing political tendency to chip away at any civility that once might have attached to our public debates over politics.
Good, well-meaning Adlai Stevenson liberals let the heirs to Old Left – the Stalinists, the anarchists, the Wobblies, ready to denounce any opponent to the party line as a fascist – into the boiler room of the Democratic Party. So today you have Obama talking like Adlai, but with a copy of Saul Alinksy's Rules for Radicals in his back pocket. You see John McCain, a relative centrist, once the darling of the media, and the bane of the Republican right, now widely depicted as a figure out of a right-wing nightmare, and Sarah Palin – of whom most people, left and right, had never heard a month ago – portrayed as even worse, as some sort of caricatured monstrosity. The New York Times and NBC et al outdo each other to convey Dem talking points. Tina Fey, who does a spot-on Palin impression, feels it necessary to urge voters to save her from having to do the impression anymore after Nov. 5, not caring she thus alienates half her audience. Twenty years ago, Richard Nixon could go on Laugh-In and say "Sock it to me?" and it was funny, and Rowan and Martin didn't see the need to put in their two cents afterward about what a bastard he was.
Dennis Prager writes today on the tendency of the Left to impute evil to those who dissent, in this case, the readiness to brand those who don't vote for Obama as racists:
Why do liberals believe that if Obama loses it will be due to white racism?
One reason is the liberal elite's contempt for white Americans with less education -- even if they are Democrats.
A second reason is that it is inconceivable to most liberals that an Obama loss -- especially a narrow one -- will be due to Obama's liberal views or inexperience or to admiration for John McCain.
The third reason is that the further left you go, the more insular you get. Americans on the left tend to talk only to one another; study only under left-wing teachers; and read only fellow leftists. That is why it is a shock to so many liberals when a Republican wins a national election -- where do all these Republican voters come from? And that in turn explains why liberals ascribe Republican presidential victories to unfair election tactics ("Swift-boating" is the liberals' reason for the 2004 Republican victory). In any fair election, Americans will see the left's light.
If Obama loses, it will not be deemed plausible that Americans have again rejected a liberal candidate, indeed the one with the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate. Liberals will explain an Obama defeat as another nefarious Republican victory.
Combining contempt for many rural and middle-class white Americans with a longstanding belief in the inevitability of a Democratic victory in 2008 (after all, everyone they talk to despises the Republicans and believes Republicans have led the country to ruin), there will be only one reason Obama did not win -- white racism.
Leftism has become a quasi-religion that finds its reason for being in criticizing society and denouncing heretics. From the radicalism of the '60s through its partisan takeover of academia and the media, through the savaging of Bork and Clarence Thomas through today's attacks on Sarah Palin, the spirit of the totalitarian Left – I won't call it liberalism, because it is illiberal – has contributed the most to the demise of civility in our public discourse.