Jewish World Review Jan. 5, 2004 / 11 Teves, 5764
Bad year rising
This sure has been a bad year for ideologues, even though some of them don't even know it yet.
Obviously, right-wing guys Rush Limbaugh and Bill Bennett took big hits, and it was very interesting to see how
compassionate some liberals were in examining the personal weaknesses of those men.
On the other side, some on the far left let it all hang out, using tactics of defamation, denigration and
destruction of a very personal nature. Everyone in the Bush administration was a liar or a whack job. Only
enlightened "progressives" could be trusted with the future of the United States.
Somewhat surprisingly, there were short-term gains for these liberal merchants of smear: The media
paid them big attention, and some books were sold. However, when you live by character assassination, you
will surely die by it. The defamers now have the hate tag wrapped tightly around their necks, and, like a noose
designed to kill, it will eventually become a heavy yoke to bear.
While the extremists got the headlines, the polls were consistent: Most Americans are not ideological
fanatics. The numbers roll in this way: Twenty percent of us say we are liberal, 35 percent conservative, and all
the rest claim to be non-aligned. You can make money catering to ideologues, as Mr. Limbaugh and Bill
Moyers have proved, but if you stake out predictable political turf, the center will distrust you.
The past year was also unkind to ideological institutions like The New York Times and the religious right.
The Times took a huge hit when its politically correct editor was forced to resign because a minority reporter
faked a bunch of stories. The young reporter ran around basically unsupervised, and the resulting scandal
damaged the nation's most prestigious newspaper in a most personal way.
The Supreme Court did the damage to the religious right by ruling that sodomy behind closed doors is
beyond the scope of state responsibility. The Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas and gave secularists
a tremendous victory. Privacy is really the issue here, but don't tell the ideologues that. On the right, many see
the ruling as a return to Sodom and Gomorrah; get those saltshakers ready. On the left, the believers have
seized the momentum and turned it into a gay marriage crusade.
Clear-thinking Americans understand that busting down somebody's door to check a sex act is absurd,
but legalizing marriage for an alternative lifestyle does not necessarily follow in the logical thought chain. Yes,
there are good arguments for allowing homosexuals legal parity with straights, but the vast majority of
Americans want to keep the traditional definition of marriage, and their opinion ought to count for something.
But in the minds of the ideologues, the folks don't count. If you disagree with these extremists, then you
are a moron and an enemy that must be attacked.
The man who has benefited the most from the ideological wars of 2003 has to be Howard Dean. Here's
a guy who has found fame and power simply by intensely disliking President Bush. I mean, come on, this time
last year Howard Dean was wandering around the Green Mountains, and even Ben and Jerry wouldn't talk to
him. Now, he's the Democratic front-runner.
The irony here is that Dean is not an ideologue, he's only playing one on cable. As we have reported, the
National Rifle Association loves this guy, and so did many Vermont business people. There's no doubt the
governor is a committed secularist, but if you want a bazooka in your bedroom, Dean is apparently down with
But like the real ideologues, Dean better watch his step. Staking out a place at
the far-left beach party will not get you elected to the presidency in America. We are still basically a country that
admires and respects tradition. Howard Dean and the progressives may be smirking now, but they are heavily
outnumbered by the regular folks who value straight talk but turn away from fanatics who would drastically
change society. As both Goldwater and McGovern found out, ideology can get you close, but only that.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the
Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author
of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.
Bill O'Reilly Archives
© 2003 Creators Syndicate