As this interminable election comes down to the wire, we see the last gasp of desperate efforts from both sides. It's in extremis that the true nature of a person, a candidate, or a political party can be seen; when you are stressed, your true self comes out.
The fact that there is so much stress is surprising indeed. The media chorus against Mr. Bush has made him extremely unpopular; Republican Senators, Congresspersons, and lobbyists mired themselves in scandals without number. In addition to receiving total adulation from the media, Mr. Obama outspent Mr. McCain 4 to 1, and it's still close.
Having spent all that money, having had such a free ride from the media, and noticing that McCain is arguably within polling error of winning has to be stress-inducing for the Obama camp. And in this moment of stress, the true self of the Democratic Party stands revealed.
It's long been clear that, for the left, "free speech" means liberal speech. You can be as offensive as you like to conservatives, Catholics, Protestants, or libertarians, that's covered by your First Amendment rights. But if you say so much as a word of criticism against Islam, homosexuals, liberal policies, or, heaven forbid, Barack Obama - well, that's hate speech, not free speech, and all right-thinking people have to pass laws against it.
Speech codes abound on college campuses, regulating what may or may not be said, and if there's one thing this election has revealed for all to see, it's the spectacular double standard that prevails in the media. Anything they say is OK, no matter how biased; anything you might want to say that disagrees with them can't be said without risking not criticism on the merits, but scurrilous personal attacks.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Oval Office. It's natural to want to silence your political opponents; it's only human not to want to listen to the arguments on the other side of the aisle.
In a very real way, the media has been so liberal for so long that many Democrats don't even know how to answer an honest question; witness Obama's discomfiture when an ordinary American, Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, asked him a straightforward question about taxes.
Having put Obama to shame, Joe suffered withering criticism and illegal investigations from the left. They trashed him in just about any way imaginable and they never dealt with his question. Why did they ignore his question?
Now, though, Democrats are not merely trying to silence arguments from the conservative side. They are using unfair and dishonorable tactics against people on their own side who are further to the left.
Cindy Sheehan has not been in the news much lately, but a few years ago her name was on the front page of every paper in the land. Her son died honorably in combat in Iraq; the grieving Ms. Sheehan fell in with antiwar Democrats who convinced her to specifically and personally,blame George W. Bush for making her son "die for a lie" as their euphonious slogan had it.
Sheehan demanded an immediate end to the Iraq war and the impeachment of Bush; her supporters camped in front of Bush's Texas ranch for months on end, harassing him whenever he went in or out. She hobnobbed with the liberal good and great, raising funds and awareness which helped lead to Nancy Pelosi's Democratic takeover of Congress.
Sheehan had her victory! The Democrats were back in power, and the war would now end forthwith as she'd been promised!
As we all know, it didn't quite work out that way. Not only did the war in Iraq continue, Mr. Bush has brought us to the verge of actually winning the war she spent so much emotional energy characterizing as a worthless cause. What's more, Pelosi's Democrats not only didn't stop the war funding, they didn't even hold impeachment hearings. Cindy Sheehan's disillusionment must have been tremendous.
She decided, quite rightly, that she'd been betrayed by the Democratic leadership in the person of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In a democracy, what do you do when you're really mad about a politician breaking promises? You run against him or her - and that's just what Sheehan is doing.
Cindy Sheehan is now a resident of San Francisco and is a declared candidate for the House of Representatives from that district, Nancy Pelosi's own. If she won, she'd unseat the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
It's essential to make a significant point here. Cindy Sheehan is wrong in virtually everything she believes. Her son did not die in vain - he died fighting Islamofascist terrorists who want to kill as many Americans as possible whether here or overseas.
George Bush treats questions of war and peace with the utmost seriousness, and while it's legitimate to disagree with his judgment concerning Iraq, it's utterly unjustified to accuse him of not caring about the deaths of American soldiers. Also, the espoused Democratic "slow bleed" strategy of starving our soldiers of funds until, they hoped, Mr. Bush had no choice but to bring them home shows a disdain and disrespect for our men in arms that boggles the mind.
Yet despite being profoundly in error, Sheehan has expressed her feelings in the correct American way. She has always protested loudly, but peacefully.
She wrote letters. She assembled political action committees. She raised funds for candidates. She interviewed in the media. And now, she is exercising her right to run for office.
Yes, her cause is wrong, but she is going about it in the right way. As much as we disagree with her, she deserves our deepest respect for following the rules; we honor her for that, and her right to do so must at all costs be preserved. As Voltaire reputedly said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
Now that she is threatening, not Chimpy McBushitler, but the Democratic party leadership, however, the gloves are coming off. PRNewswire reports:
Just 5 days before the election, at 3a.m. on October 30th, all of the front windows of the Cindy Sheehan for Congress campaign offices were shattered..."One of our computers was stolen, but no other property was taken from our offices and no surrounding buildings were targeted. Clearly they wanted to both frighten us and to gather information."
The Cindy for Congress campaign recently chronicled a series of unusual events, including other threats of violence, in a statement issued on October 13th.
Campaign staffers also note each incident, including today's early morning incident, has followed closely on the heels of a confrontation with Cindy Sheehan's opponent Nancy Pelosi. [emphasis added]
Did Nancy Pelosi order these criminal attacks on Sheehan's campaign? Of course not, she's far too smart for that.
Obviously, though, somebody - actually, a whole lot of somebodies - somewhere down the Democratic chain of command do not believe in the First Amendment, either for the right or the left. This is part and parcel of Obama's instructions to his supporters to swamp radio stations that air his critics with protests.
Concerning people who plan to vote Republican, Mr. Obama said, "I want you to argue with them and get in their face." To argue? That's fine, a healthy democracy must have arguments. But getting in their face?
Shouting people off the air? Booing speakers from the stage? Trashing opposition campaign offices? Stealing political signs and destroying private property belonging to your opponent's supporters? That's not a free and fair exchange of ideas; it's mob rule, it's the antithesis of democracy.
It's what we see on college campuses all across America. It's what leftists are taught to do; it's the tactics of radicals, in which Obama is so steeped as to have been an ACORN trainer in just such skills.
Cindy Sheehan is now an example of the medicine the Democrats plan to force down America's throat. They are already preparing to reinstate the Orwellian-named Fairness Doctrine, which would drive conservative voices from public airwaves. That's not new; they've wanted to gag their critics for years because they can't answer them.
What is new is that Democrats - not merely "liberals" in general, but the Democratic party specifically - will now brook no opposition, not just from their nominal opponents across the aisle, but within their own ideological spectrum.
No one could mistake Cindy Sheehan for a member of the storied vast right-wing conspiracy. No one could accuse Joe Lieberman of that either; aside from his belief in the importance of winning in Iraq, his policies are doctrinaire liberalism right down the line. But any deviation from the official party line is a threat to absolute power, and deviation must be squelched by fair means or foul.
This is not America. It's not constitutional. It's not right.
It is, in fact, evil. It's Chicago politics gone nationwide, but it's not being done by Bush, Cheney, Blackwater, or by the CIA; it's being done by the so-called advocates of free speech, the bringers of "hope and change."
A great many leftists will gleefully pull the lever for Barack Obama tomorrow. They'd better hope that Obama's policies, on each and every point, are precisely the same as their own - if they differ in the slightest degree, they're going to get a very nasty surprise.
Bush did what he felt needed to be done in Iraq, but never did he attempt to restrict the First Amendment or its use by his political opponents, despite the outlandish fulminations and accusations on the left, as an evening's watching of the overwhelmingly leftist news glaringly reveals. That freedom is about to change - and it's a change we'd better believe in now, before it's too late.