The ever likable E. J. Dionne Jr., in his year-end column, issues the following lament:
"Ah, yes, the president and his people have a lot of enemies out there, but his friends are just as exercised. A reader from San Diego offered a view that was repeated in many different forms: 'Most liberals and some Democrats hate this president and will do anything to bring him down, including siding with terrorists against the president.' . . . [W]hen big chunks of the country begin to view their political adversaries as something close to traitors, we have arrived at a very dangerous time."
I'd agree. But who is at fault here? I would edit the comments of Dionne's San Diego reader by changing "most liberals" to "more liberals," but otherwise he's got a point. Consider the case of Michael Moore. In June 2004, about half of the Democratic senators attended the Washington premiere of Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida emerged from the theater with a big smile and a thumbs up for photographers. At the Democratic National Convention, Moore was seated next to former President Jimmy Carter on Monday night.
This is the same Michael Moore who hailed the Iraqi insurgents as "Minute Men" and who said they will and should win. This is the same Michael Moore whose own website featured his statement that Americans are the stupidest people in the world. If that is not rooting for America's enemies, I don't know what is. Yet leading Democrats chose to associate themselves with him. From 1974 to 1981 I was a Democratic campaign consultant. I don't recall ever advising a client to associate his cause with someone who called for defeat of American military forces and said that Americans were the stupidest people in the world. Yet many prominent Democrats chose to associate themselves with Moore. I find it impossible to resist the conclusion that these Democrats, in Dionne's correspondent's words, "hate this president and will do anything to bring him down, including siding with terrorists against the president." Or at least linking their cause with a prominent entertainer who sides with the terrorists and against the president. These Democrats have, at best, lost the capacity to distinguish between opponents of the president who wish the best for America and opponents of the president who don't.
Yes, E. J., "we have arrived at a dangerous time." And, no, I wouldn't use and haven't used the word "traitor" or the word "unpatriotic" in this connection. But it is these Democrats, not George W. Bush or their Republican critics, who have raised the question of whether they are on America's side.