08.10.2011 1

Ramblings of a mean conservative

By David Bozeman – With no record to run on in 2012, look for Democrats (along with their accomplices in the mainstream media) to attack like cornered animals.  They will continue the narrative, so ingrained in American political thought as to be considered gospel, that conservatives are just downright mean.

For the sake of brevity, “conservative” will include Republicans and Tea Partiers, and while important differences can distinguish the three, opposition to the Obama agenda is still the most common denominator.

The recent barrage of “terrorist” comparisons notwithstanding, far more examples of the conservatives-are-mean strategy remain than can be detailed here.  Suffice it to say that this theme could well emerge as a dominant — and winning — campaign tactic for 2012.  Bill Clinton masterfully maneuvered the 1990’s, coasting to easy re-election on the perception that Newt Gingrich was a “Grinch” who wanted to steal Christmas (suggested by a Newsweek cover), and Bob Dole was the irascible fuddy-duddy who cursed at kids for walking on his lawn.

Rush Limbaugh’s controversial statement in 2009 that he wanted Obama to fail (because, according to Limbaugh, Obama succeeding would lead to disaster for the country) was mentioned at least twice in the nonstop debate over the weekend leading up to the debt-ceiling agreement.  Taken as self-fulfilling prophecy, our current economic woes are blamed on the pronouncements of evil, unyielding conservatives.

Columnist Kathleen Parker, who inexplicably passes for right-of-center, recently castigated the behavior of “certain Republicans who call themselves Tea Party conservatives,” making them “the most misguided ‘patriots’ we’ve seen in recent memory.”  Parker was aghast that Sarah Palin, on her Facebook page, reminded her supporters that weak-kneed Republicans can be —horrors! — voted out in primaries, or “primaried out.”

Don’t ever forget Rule #1 of political warfare:  national hand wringing over meanness and incivility only means that conservatives are exercising their constitutional rights again and probably winning the day.

But the notion of conservative meanness is so embedded in our civic life that, though far from true, it might as well be.  Republicans try to change that perception out of the gate, even if it means lauding liberal Democrats for wanting the same things we do, just disagreeing on how to get there (ignoring the left’s adoration for European-style cradle-to-grave socialism).  Nice try, John McCain, Bob Dole and numerous others.  What did your tedious attempts at “reaching across the aisle” and “changing the tone” get you?

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin recently lamented the current gridlock, recalling how — which brings us to the cliche of the month — President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill were able to work together.  As columnist Jonah Goldberg noted, Reagan himself regretted that alliance, in which Democrats agreed to spending cuts to match the proposed tax cuts.

Thirty years hence, we’re still waiting for those spending cuts (and I won’t bring up the Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football comparison, in hopes that I can bring something original to the national discussion).

The architects of our political culture have successfully cast the conservative male as Mr. Potter, the evil banker who tries to jail Jimmy Stewart on Christmas Eve in It’s a Wonderful Life.   The conservative female, up to now, has been the mother, played by Constance Ford in 1959’s lush, Technicolor love story A Summer Place.  Teenage heroine Sandra Dee is hopelessly in love with Troy Donahue, but her stern, status-driven sex-hating mother is so appalled at her daughter’s blossoming womanhood that, in one of the cinema’s high points of camp nirvana, she brings in a doctor to examine a terrified Dee after staying out too late with Donahue.  The harridan is so vindictive and unyielding (and racist, to boot) that her husband leaves her for a woman who is kind, loving and, according to Ford, a harlot!  Check it out, she’s a hoot (but a fine movie, nonetheless).

Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have somewhat dispelled that notion.  And speaking of the former governor, she has made news recently, with yet another ethics charge against her dismissed.  She could speak volumes about being on the receiving end of meanness, but she possesses the gall to fight back.  Responding to Vice-President Biden’s reported comparison of Tea Partiers to terrorists, she noted that, if they were, President Obama would be paling around with them, like he did with Bill Ayers.  Game, set and match!

If Sarah Palin is mean, this lowly foot soldier in the conservative movement says give me more.  Keep your cocktail party banter and Kathleen Parker-style conservatism.  Sarah Palin and the Tea Party ogres know the truth, which is that, at least much of the time, conservatives are offended when lies are told about them, while liberals hate it when the truth is told about their side.

Or, to put it more succinctly, and as they say in these parts, sometimes the truth hurts, doesn’t it?

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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