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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, November 25, 2002

I'm Getting Dizzy

Matt Drudge seems to be criticizing John Ashcroft for a flip-flop on internet security - snooping that would have been intrusive under Clinton makes sense now. However, the Man Sans Q points out that circumstances have changed.

Meanwhile, I have had a couple of posts subtly wondering whether the hysteria on the Left about John Ashcroft, incipient fascism, and the termination of our civil rights might not be opportunistic political posturing. Where, we might wonder, were these people during the Clinton years? When Republicans say "Waco", Democrats say "whacko"; when Republicans say "Filegate", Democrats say "scandal pandering" - now we are meant to take these same critics seriously on Ashcroft and Bush?

Talk Left decides to Talk Right and Talk Center, addressing this at length and sparing no one. Samples:

Particularly when it comes to electronic surveillance, we're much more aligned with the conservative Republicans and libertarians than we are with the Democrats. Bush, unfortunately, is a centrist on many issues and not much different than the current crop of democrats.


We're not trying to bash Clinton and Gore here. [Having re-printed a delightfully nostalgic WaPo guest editorial that did just that]. We're pointing out why many on the left (e.g. the ACLU and criminal defense lawyers) bond with the right on privacy and civil liberties issues. The centrist dems and republicans are the ones to fear.

Something for everyone, in an admirable display of intellectual honesty. There are hints that the fireworks may have been triggered by a Jason Rylander post to which Talk Left links. And does Mr. Rylander see any hypocrisy in the Democratic position?

Adler makes another point: "As for hypocrisy on the Right, just remember that the version of the USA Patriot Act that emerged from the "conservatives" in the House was less intrusive than that which emerged from Daschle's "liberal" Senate." This is a tougher criticism to address, because on the face of it, Adler is correct. I think its fair to say given the votes that both parties are guilty of loading up the bill with intrusive measures (not to mention plenty of pork). I don't think Adler really refutes my point about hypocrisy, though. Democrats, to our misfortune, don't campaign on the idea of less government. For the most part, we don't run on slogans that BIG government is a problem. We don't always advocate big government, but we certainly don't demogogue against government the way Republicans often do. In that sense, I think it's fair to say that limited government Republicans have a greater responsibility to speak out against programs like the Homeland Security bill, which seem quite clearly to violate their professed "principles." Adler's right on this point: there's plenty of blame to go around.

Yes, the soft bigotry of low expectations.

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