Tags: The | Incredible | Shrinking | Dems

The Incredible Shrinking Dems

Monday, 27 May 2002 12:00 AM

If you want to test an article of clothing, wash it in hot water. No matter how stylish the cut, no matter how vivid the colors, if it's poorly made you will end up with a shrunken, faded rag, useful only to wipe the floor. That's what happened to the Democratic Party. The heat of 9-11 has shrunk some of its leaders into insignificance.

I was brought up to admire the party of Franklin Roosevelt, which recognized the dangerous nature of the world, while many Republicans remained head-in-the-sand isolationists. I was raised to admire the party of racial equality, while many Republicans remained unconcerned with this issue.

But things have changed. Now Democrats play the politics of envy and racial discord, while Republicans tend to see people as individuals. Now Democrats play the politics of mistrust and conspiracy, while Republicans try to pull the nation together to face our common enemies.

Then 9-11 hit us. As things got hotter, many (not all) Democratic leaders began to fade, until their colors became almost unrecognizable. The brilliant reds, whites and blues faded into weak pastels.

And they began to shrink. Like cheap shirts, the shrinkage grew worse with continued exposure to heat, until they became virtually useless and irrelevant. How can we take seriously a party led by moral and intellectual Lilliputians?

Sen. Hillary Clinton, a possible presidential candidate, took a copy of a tabloid to the Senate floor, ostentatiously waving the front page that screamed "Bush Knew." She asked, unnecessarily, "The president knew what?" as if she feared we were illiterate. Of course, after decades of liberal-run public schools, she might be right.

Hillary called on President Bush to "come before the American people at the earliest possible time to answer the questions so many New Yorkers and Americans are asking." Was she calling for a criminal investigation or just another press conference? The words were purposely vague, but an accusatory odor hung in the air.

Characteristically, she hedged by adding: "I am seeking answers and information. I am not looking to point fingers or place blame on anybody." That is, imply the president is guilty of homicidal incompetence at best, and treason at worst, but then take cover and deny you really said it. How vicious and cowardly. How small.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, also a possible presidential candidate, gave a press briefing that raised questions about what Bush knew. Daschle created suspicion and mistrust, yet skillfully used language that was ambiguous enough to avoid direct blame coming back to him. How lawyerly.

Daschle stated, "I don't know that a direct question – 'What did you know and when did you know it?' – was ever asked of the president of the United States." This was the question asked of President Nixon regarding a burglary and a conspiracy to cover it up – that is, two felonies.

By using those words, Daschle implied that Bush is a criminal, but without actually saying so. Again, how vicious and cowardly. How small.

House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt used similar language. He stated, "I think what we have to do now is to find out what the president, what the White House knew about the events leading up to 9-11, when they knew it and, most importantly, what was done about it at that time."

But then Gephardt backed away from his accusation, claiming, "I never, ever, ever thought that anybody, including the president, did anything up to Sept. 11 other than their best." Gephardt wanted to have it both ways – to be both the rabble-rousing accuser and the loyal citizen. As a result, he appears as neither.

Again, "What did he know and when did he know it?" Again, the imputation of criminality without actually saying so. Again, how vicious and cowardly. How small.

Sen. Robert Torricelli noted that Vice President Cheney pressed Congress to avoid an investigation while our troops were in Afghanistan. In light of recent disclosures, Torricelli said, "that argument just became extremely disingenuous."

This was the same Torricelli who pushed through regulations blocking the CIA from hiring anyone with a record of crime or civil rights violations. Apparently he expected us to infiltrate al-Qaeda with Boy Scouts. And he's angry that we failed to detect 9-11 in advance? Now

Airline passengers are angry that children and elderly ladies are searched, while Middle Eastern-appearing young men often pass through freely. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and some other congressional Democrats are angry about "racial profiling" at airports. They live in an alternate reality.

These are the people who want to conduct an "impartial" investigation. And who will report the "impartial" investigation "impartially"? Dan "the latest terror alert was phony" Rather? The Los Angeles Times, which began an article about how the president's life was protected on 9-11 with a headline alleging "Bush Fled"? They are constructing an alternate reality.

Democratic senator Frank Church is no longer alive. His committee gutted the CIA in the 1970s. But former president Jimmy Carter and his CIA director, Stansfield Turner, are still with us. Under their leadership, the human intelligence capability of the CIA was further degraded.

But without agents on the ground, how were we to know what al-Qaeda was plotting in Afghan caves? Satellites can't see into caves, nor can they evaluate potential enemies or possible friends at first hand. High-tech equipment is invaluable, but it cannot replace human beings who speak the language and know the country. Thanks to Democrats, we were (and are) lacking in these areas.

What about Bill Clinton and the former members of his administration? What, precisely, did they do for eight years to make us safer? Who cut our military in half? Who refused a Sudanese offer to turn over bin Laden? Clinton or an extraterrestrial?

What did they do after the first World Trade Center bombing? What did they do when our barracks in Saudi Arabia and our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed? What did they do when the USS Cole was bombed and almost sunk?

The message they sent to those who hated us was "No problem, it's open season on Americans." They lobbed a few cruise missiles into a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant and a few more into Afghanistan. They bounced some rocks and angered the terrorists – but didn't hurt them or frighten them. That's an anti-terrorism policy?

Former Vice President Al Gore declared in 1992 that environmental problems caused by the automobile were a "mortal threat" more deadly than that of "any military enemy we are ever again likely to confront." With attitudes like that, the Clinton administration paid little attention to terrorism.

But 9-11 produced smoke and dust (containing particles of asbestos, glass and concrete) that was visible from space. War is bad not only for people, but for the environment as well. What a surprise!

Then-Attorney General Janet Reno was too busy with the Branch Davidians to pay much attention to the first World Trade Center bombing, which was intended to bring down the towers. Apparently, the thought of religious Americans with guns frightened her more than the thought of America-hating fanatics with bombs. How revealing.

And, of course, there is former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, whose name is a 50 percent overestimate. She claimed the Bush foreign policy team has "bipolar disorder." She ought to know. Her (and her boss's) foreign policy, especially in regard to terrorism, was profoundly depressing.

Last, and also least, is California Governor Gray Davis. What was his response and that of the Democrat-controlled legislature to 9-11? They began issuing driver's licenses – the key to obtaining other identification and to getting on airliners – to

That was the contribution to national security of Democrats in our most populous state. The Three Stooges could have done better.

But for the sake of argument, assume the president's critics are correct. Assume that Bush could have known the specifics of 9-11 in advance. Assume that a brilliant CIA officer warned him, or even that Bush foresaw it through psychic powers. What could he have done to prevent it?

The president could have slammed our borders shut. He could have grounded all civilian planes, causing the economy to slow down drastically. When flights resumed, he could have armed the pilots. He could have ordered the investigation of all young males of Middle Eastern origin who were non-citizens. He could have tapped phones, searched computers and frozen bank accounts – all in the absence of an overt act.

And what would his Democratic critics have done then? They would have exploded with rage, calling him a Nazi, a racist and a dictator. They would have moaned about ethnic profiling and the declining economy. They would have called the threat bogus, just as Dan Rather did after a recent alert.

They criticized the president's actions as too extreme, even after the catastrophe of 9-11. Imagine what they would have done if he had acted vigorously and, as a result, no attack had occurred. The Democrats probably would have called for his impeachment.

It is one thing to be the "peace party" if we are plotting an aggressive war. But "peace party" takes on an entirely different meaning if we have been forced into a defensive war, after over 3,000 American civilians were murdered before our eyes. Only moral idiots cannot see the difference.

If there is responsibility for our failure to predict and prevent 9-11, the Democrats must accept their share. And if there is another attack, they will have to accept their share of responsibility for that, too. They have criticized and attempted to block many of the administration's efforts to prevent another attack.

The Democrats' strategy of accusations and innuendo could easily backfire. As they turn up the heat on the president, they will feel the heat themselves. And it will be no surprise if they shrink even more.

But that's what you get for buying cheap material. Next time, get the good stuff.

For Dan Rather's remarks, see:

For the Los Angeles Times headline, see:

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If you want to test an article of clothing, wash it in hot water. No matter how stylish the cut, no matter how vivid the colors, if it's poorly made you will end up with a shrunken, faded rag, useful only to wipe the floor. That's what happened to the Democratic Party. The...
Monday, 27 May 2002 12:00 AM
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