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Jewish World Review July 1, 2004 / 12 Tamuz, 5764

James Lileks

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Dropping political discourse level | It's been said that "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the left's "The Passion of the Christ" -- red meat for true believers. Except that it's George W. Bush who sacrifices others on his behalf. Except that Michael Moore's version would have the Sanhedrin in league with the Romans and the aqueduct construction brigades, and it would all be about water.

The question now is what the Democratic establishment will do with this film: embrace it, ignore it or triangulate their way to a position that satisfies the party's reasonable majority while placating the angry loons who want to truss Bush up in his flight jacket and hang him from his heels.

Good luck.

For the constituency that wants John Kerry to wear an "I Like Mike" button for the rest of the campaign, look no further than Al Gore. But keep your distance: The man breathes fire these days. Aides have to print his notes on sheets of asbestos. He's a new man, it seems.

In power, he told us that Saddam Hussein had WMD programs and terrorist connections. Out of power, relying on The Nation instead of those silly CIA briefings, he decides that Iraq was slightly less dangerous than Monaco and certainly not as dangerous as the jackbooted gang that runs Gulag America today.

In a recent speech Gore accused the administration of working with "digital Brownshirts" who pressure the media to conform. You remember the Brownshirts, don't you? Those were the ones who kicked the Jews into cattle cars. Street-thug Nazis.

Well, that's the GOP, you say. Fine. But please understand how "digital Brownshirts" ups the ante. Gone is the sober Al of the Clinton years or the populist of the 2000 campaign. Gorebot 2004 has reprogrammed himself to make Noam Chomsky sound like a Bircher raving about fluoridation.

Why? Does he think that planting a fishhook in the soft palate of the Democratic Party and yanking it hard to the left will land him victory in the future? Is he content just to hold his own tent revivals, basking in the hot waves of applause?

Who knows. But he's done something quite unnecessary here. He's compared the right to Nazis, the gold standard for evil. Lots of yammering moonbats have done that before, of course. But this isn't the rhetoric you expect from party elders. It's like Bob Dole comparing the Dixie Chicks to "musical Mensheviks," or Bush 41 calling Michael Moore a "cinematic Stalinist." At a certain level, you're expected not to engage in nuclear rhetoric.

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But hey, everybody does it. Don't they?

Just the other day, the Kerry campaign sent out an e-mail alert accusing the Bush team of calling them Nazis. The Bush-Cheney campaign, losing any last sense of decency, had placed a disgusting ad called "The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party" as the main feature on its Web site. Bizarrely, and without explanation, the ad put Adolf Hitler among those faces.

"The Bush-Cheney campaign must pull this ad off of its Web site. The use of Hitler by any campaign, politician or party is simply wrong," the Kerry people wrote.

Nice to know they feel that way. The ad actually referred to Kerry supporters who have called the president the equivalent of Hitler, or used Nazi comparisons like, you know, Brownshirts. Here's the logic: One side says the other is acting like Nazis. The other says, "Hey, don't call us Nazis." The other side responds, "Are you saying we're like Nazis? How dare you!"

The way the fringe is swamping the rhetoric of the Democratic Party, you don't know which might be worse: what they'll do if they win or what they'll do if they don't.

A few words from Kerry might help calm things down. Does he believe in the digital Brownshirts? Does he think that's an improvement in our national discourse? Does Moore's movie make some good points, and, if so, which ones? Is Bush really a stupid Saudi-Nazi cyborg paving the globe to hasten the rule of evangelical Christian oil executives eager to herd us into Wal-Mart-branded sweatshops?

Is Gore-Moore the future of your party or not?

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JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


06/24/04: Kerry's Science Buddies and the Silly Sanctity of Life
06/17/04: Behold the Summer of Bill Clinton!
06/10/04: Whatever happened to respect for the presidency?
06/03/04: Tales at the intersection of war and popular culture
05/20/04: Athletes on Notice: Strive Unflaggingly
05/13/04: America likes Rumsfeld, and the Dems can't take it
05/07/04: Kerry Supporters Have a New Take on Vietnam War
05/05/04: New cell phone does everything, but there's a problem...
04/29/04: John Kerry, prisoner of symbolic politics
04/22/04: Shall we grovel? Kerry Plan to Restore America's Place in the World
04/08/04: Sept. 11 Might Have Been Different If ...
04/02/04: Slinging slime or citing facts?
03/26/04: One War, One Enemy
03/22/04: Bloodied Spain Rejoins Old Europe
03/12/04: Why All Those Foreign Leaders Want Kerry to Whup Bush
03/08/04: Introducing the Kerry Doctrine
02/27/04: Introducing the AWOLs: Angry White Outraged Libs
02/20/04: Sifting the headlines of election year 1992
02/18/04: Guess Which Candidate Our Enemies Want to Lose in 2004?
01/29/04: Every Laptop a Truth Squad
01/27/04: When the battle over artistic freedom goes over the edge
12/31/03: For the Left and Right, Some New Year's Resolutions
12/22/03: Dean's black helicopters
12/15/03: Dems Are Mainstreaming the Extreme
12/08/03: Does Dean Really Want to Be President? One Wonders, When He Opens His Mouth
11/24/03: The real story: Most Brits see U.S. as force for good
11/19/03: The Trouble With Al Gore's Screed on Civil Liberties
11/11/03: Can a fellow win with the Confederate Metrosexual vote?
10/22/03: Let's make Greenpeace pay
09/29/03: Ah-nold & Clark may be on different sides of the aisles, but their supporters are cut from the same cloth
09/19/03: All Hail the Ninth Circuit Court of Surreal
08/26/03: This time, the record industry doesn't stand a chance!
08/18/03: Assessing the Schwarzenegger Factor in Republicanism
08/08/03: No wonder Howard ‘Two Covers’ Dean gets all the buzz
08/04/03: Expect bad news for the foreseeable future
07/28/03: Despot's Deserts
07/21/03: No winners in this game of gotcha
07/14/03: Doing the right thing in Liberia may not be the right thing to do
06/27/03: On feet in Democratic mouths
06/16/03: The real story behind Hillary's book
06/09/03:America's new mission was and remains: Extirpating the flaming nutballs and the societies that nurture them
06/03/03: The Constitution as gag order
05/23/03: Sometimes the theme of world events is chaos itself
05/16/03: Newspapers are only human, after all
05/13/03: What McCarthy messed up
05/06/03: Still think the International Criminal Court was a good idea?
04/03/03: The world is ending, the world is ending! Doesn't anybody care!? Why won't anybody listen!?
03/14/03: Kerry and the Dems are banking on American electorate's tendancy to forget history
02/28/03: Roadmap to peace?
02/13/03: We live in an age where the poet has been cast out from the halls of power --- sob, sob
02/10/03: Found: League for International Justice and Peace talking points
01/30/03: The US can go to war whenever it likes for its own reasons, and all the UN can do is pass more worthless paper
01/23/03: People who'd volunteer for the Iraqi army if they saw Saddam wearing a "Free Mumia" button
01/16/03: One of those head vs. heart things
12/27/02: Whistleblowers?
01/06/02: The second year of this jangled millennium
11/16/01: Attack of the 'Patriotism police' and other Hollywood fare
11/12/01: From the bleats of dismay
10/30/01: Osama and the Genie
10/08/01: "We can stop the Bush Death Juggernaut"
11/04/01: America, loathe or it leave it
09/25/01: Do the Europeans actually think that the war on murderous zealotry will be furthered by undercutting America?
08/27/01: If the economy is in a funk, why aren't we dancing?
08/14/01: Dubyah's embarrassing presidential vacation
08/10/01: Hail to our co-chiefs?
08/03/01: Constitution: George the Uniter picked a doozy to unify detractors
07/25/01: The real reason why we need missile defense (What those uppity policy wonks won't tell you!)
06/18/01: Paining the egalitarian soul
06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2003, James Lileks