We often talk about the Democrats' conspicuous lack of a policy agenda as proof they are a party in decline. But I think there's even better evidence of the phenomenon: They habitually misrepresent what they stand for and what Republicans stand for, and constantly mischaracterize President Bush's actions.
If they had confidence in the salability of their ideas, would they need to play word games, resort to euphemisms, revise history, distort facts and repeat patently false charges?
I long for the days when the worst you could expect from a liberal was the articulate but good-faith presentation of wrongheaded ideas. Today, the political exponents of liberalism reside predominantly in the Democratic Party, which on the national level is on the verge of intellectual and moral bankruptcy.
On issue after issue, they dissemble grossly and shamelessly. They aren't honest about their positions on abortion, the Iraq War, their criteria in confirming judges and "values" issues, to name a few. They must believe they can't afford to be.
Worse, they paint President Bush as a liar and miscreant at every opportunity. The most egregious example is their unconscionable charge that the president lied about Iraqi WMD. I honestly don't know how President Bush has been able to withstand the libels with such dignity and class, except for, in his words, "family, faith and friends."
Consider Hurricane Katrina. They couldn't be satisfied merely to criticize President Bush for failing to coordinate a multi-layered government response in New Orleans, which, in my view, would have been unfair enough, given the obstacles he faced with state and local leaders. But they had to go further and accuse him of racism because of the hurricane's allegedly disproportionate impact on blacks, a presumption that was later discredited.
How about "torture?" When isolated incidents of abuse of enemy combatant terrorists were reported, they insisted on imputing the charges to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and President Bush. It didn't matter a whit to them that the administration has not authorized illegal techniques in dealing with captured terrorists. What mattered was that this was an opportunity to taint them as sadistic ogres.
More recently, they've latched on to the administration's eavesdropping of Al Qaeda without a warrant, which they insist on misportraying as the president's "domestic spying program." They intend to leave the impression that the "power-mad" president has a perverse interest in monitoring private communications between innocent citizens.
Can someone please tell me what motive President Bush would have other than laudably trying to prevent further terrorist attacks to listen in on private citizen's phone calls? Can they produce just one innocent victim of the NSA surveillance program?
Better yet, can anyone explain why the administration should need to demonstrate probable cause to listen in to a suspected terrorist's communications when time is of the essence? Do we really want to hamstring our intelligence agencies when going after the enemy in war as opposed to pursuing suspected criminals for law enforcement purposes?
More importantly, does anyone really believe Democratic leaders oppose the blanket practice of monitoring Al Qaeda, and, if so, why? Or are they just grandstanding, as usual, to score political points?
How about their deliberate attempts to smear Judge Sam Alito as unethical for not initially recusing himself in a case involving Vanguard, a company in which he owned an amount of stock whose value couldn't conceivably have been effected by the outcome of the case? Even after Alito's eminently credible explanation for sitting on the case, Sen. Ted Kennedy tirelessly repeated the charge, as if Alito had confessed to flagrant misconduct.
Also consider their hand wringing over President Bush's evil scheme to "pack the court" with judges who will conspire with him to emasculate Congress. The charge is almost too absurd to repeat in respectable circles. They know full well the president's fulfillment of his duty to appoint justices to the Supreme Court does not fall within the definition of "court packing," which was a term used to describe FDR's plan to wholly restructure the court to obtain a rubber-stamp majority.
Then there's their deliberately misleading description of the president's court appointees as ideologues, when those appointees were chosen precisely because of their commitment to judicial restraint, a judicial philosophy that eschews "ideological" jurisprudence.
On the bright side, as a conservative, it is fairly comforting to realize that Democratic leaders do not have sufficient confidence in the popularity of their ideas to sustain a consistent position on Iraq or to present the truth to the people on a host of other issues. Until they reacquire that confidence, we can expect more negativity, hyperbole and scandal mongering, which is hardly a formula to win elections.