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Preferring the Politics of Personal Destruction when Countering a Resurgent Right

Sometimes, it seems the primary difference between conservatives and liberals in contemporary American politics is that whereas we wish to engage on the battlefield of ideas, they wish to play the politics of personal destruction.  Just look at how liberals deal with Sarah Palin, calling her a whack job, questioning her intelligence (while ignoring her accomplishments) and speculating that she may not be mother to her youngest child.  It’s rare when we hear someone acknowledge her accomplishments, while criticizing her on the issues.

And take a gander at some of the comments (thankfully not all) to this blog where our critics attack Bruce and me personally (or our defenders) without addressing the points that we raised in the post to which they attach their comments.

Or look at how Democrats and their allies in the media respond to the Tea Party movement.  They smear us with a sexual slur and question the sincerity of our motives.

Now, it looks like some who practice the politics of personal destruction are ratcheting this up a notch:

A meeting of former Clintonistas and senior Democrat political operatives to coordinate a push-back to the burgeoning tea party movement. Consider it a Democrat party relief effort. . . .

Big Government has learned that Clintonistas are plotting a “push/pull” strategy. They plan to identify 7-8 national figures active in the tea party movement and engage in deep opposition research on them. If possible, they will identify one or two they can perhaps ‘turn’, either with money or threats, to create a mole in the movement. The others will be subjected to a full-on smear campaign. (Has MSNBC already been notified?)

Big Government has also learned that James Carville will head up the effort.

Why, if Mr. Carville is so convinced that we’ve just entered into a 40-year period of Democratic ascendancy, would he need to stoop to destroying leaders of the Tea Party movement instead of showing how out-of-tune their ideas are with the current mood of the country?

(H/t Instapundit.)

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32 Comments

  1. Why, if Mr. Carville is so convinced that we’ve just entered into a 40-year period of Democratic ascendancy, would he need to stoop to destroying leaders of the Tea Party movement instead of showing how out-of-tune their ideas are with the current mood of the country?

    Fear.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 17, 2010 @ 3:35 pm - February 17, 2010

  2. Let them do it. They’ll alienate the independents just as Repubs alienated the Perot folks when some on the Right called them nuts…. The cravenness and viciousness of the Left continues to be jaw-dropping. I’m kind of hoping that the Dems continue with their “Party of No” descriptor for the Republicans, also. Given the popularity of recent Dem public policy initiatives, “The Party of No” sounds like a winning slogan.

    Comment by Dave — February 17, 2010 @ 4:21 pm - February 17, 2010

  3. You are absolutely right. The left does not debate issues in a honest fashion, with full facts or even ideas. If you don’t agree or hold a different view, they want to destroy you or question your intelligence. I think the American people are reaching a tipping point where they realize that the media is owned by corporate leftist interests and hire talking heads to do their dirty political work rather than inform the people. They hide the corruption of those on “their side” and continue to mock anyone on the right. With the media’s power over the years they have been able to set the agenda, but now with the rise of conservative blogs, the Tea Party movement, and other outlets, an awakening is taking place and this is bringing out the truly vile character of those on the left as they go out to personally attack conservatives. Time to give it right back, the new media is reaching many many more people.

    Comment by Krystal — February 17, 2010 @ 4:29 pm - February 17, 2010

  4. Just remember Mary Matlin’s nickname for her husband “Trumpet Head” He speaks loudly but says nothing

    Comment by PatriotMom — February 17, 2010 @ 4:49 pm - February 17, 2010

  5. I’m sorry, Dan, but I think your comparison is simplistic and unfair. Surely those of us who care about politics and civic behavior – regardless of our political affiliation I think those of us who participate in this blog have that in common – can agree that the politics of political destruction have adherents in both the left and right? To say “the primary difference between conservatives and liberals in contemporary American politics is that whereas we wish to engage on the battlefield of ideas, they wish to play the politics of personal destruction” is to ignore the numerous hacks on the conservative side of the fence who have been just as unfairly destructive as any similar hack on the liberal side of the fence could ever hope to be. In an age of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck, how can you say that only liberals engage in personal destruction? When George Bush’s operatives plant the suggestion in South Carolina in the 2000 campaign that McCain’s Bangladeshi granddaughter is actually his illegitimate black child, that is not the politics of personal destruction? When, during the last year, when representatives held town halls and they were drowned out by mostly conservative people who stood there and just yelled the most silly, incorrect, and insipid nonsense, seeking only to drown out any other voices, that was engaging in a meaningful discussion about ideas? The side of the aisle that brought us Lee Atwater is going to complain about “personally destructive” liberals?

    Again, I’m not saying that liberals never indulge themselves with “the politics of personal destruction,” but to suggest that only liberals do this is blatantly wrong. I do not understand why you have to create such simplistic and incorrect tribal divisions.

    Comment by Phil Holmes — February 17, 2010 @ 4:54 pm - February 17, 2010

  6. It will be interesting how the Mount Vernon Statement is received at CPAC and along with some of the notable signers will look at GoPROUD and it’s inclusion at the event.

    http://www.themountvernonstatement.com/

    On hand to unveil the Mount Vernon Statement include former Attorney General Ed Meese, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright, Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness, . . .

    Will have to wait and see.

    Comment by rusty — February 17, 2010 @ 5:15 pm - February 17, 2010

  7. rusty–I have not yet seen the statement, but just because those folks have supported it does not necessarily mean it’s bad; I expect to review it before I return to my dissertation.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — February 17, 2010 @ 5:22 pm - February 17, 2010

  8. Phil Holmes:

    Both cases that can be verified where you deride as being “politics of personal destruction” from the right are in fact completely fabricated smears from the left. In other words, you’re massively projecting.

    Bush never said anything ilke that about McCain, nor were there any “robo calls” to that effect. The “evidence” that he did such was nonsense.

    http://article.nationalreview.com/273474/the-mccain-myth/rich-lowry

    And Lee Atwater? Are you serious? The poor kid who was like 30 years old when he was in the Reagan administration, and against whom *not one* of these vile accusations was ever levied publicly against him until practically the day after he died at age 40? Funny, if he’d really said the vile things he was supposed to have said in 1980, why did that racist quote attributed to him get sourced anonymously until his death? Why didn’t a single liberal anywhere have the courage to call him out on it while he was alive? Because they made the entire thing up out of whole cloth. Have fun trying to prove anything different.

    Qwinn

    Comment by Qwinn — February 17, 2010 @ 5:26 pm - February 17, 2010

  9. Phil Holmes, I don’t know what planet you live on, but the LEFT is vicious. Liberals YOU INCLUDED are simply not honest. Generally speaking liberals have emotional problems.

    Comment by gus — February 17, 2010 @ 5:38 pm - February 17, 2010

  10. but to suggest that only liberals do this is blatantly wrong. I do not understand why you have to create such simplistic and incorrect tribal divisions.

    I think the point is that it’s ALL that the liberals have.

    And when you assert something about Bush’s “operatives”, without any connecting evidence, can we then conclude that Obama’s operatives engaged in voter intimidation or that Kerry’s operatives slashed the tires on vehicles to transport people to the polls????

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 17, 2010 @ 5:42 pm - February 17, 2010

  11. Or maybe that Gore operatives couldn’t figure out a simple ballot unlike the rest of the state of Florida?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 17, 2010 @ 5:43 pm - February 17, 2010

  12. I was astonished by the David Plouffe phony Tea Party FLA website I learned about today.

    Only two people seem to be involved, DP and one other guy.
    Yet they falsely claim millions of hours worth of volunteer sign ups!
    LOL!
    Talk about astroturf!
    See:
    http://radiopatriot.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/obama-a-parody/

    We don’t need to stoop to their politics of personal destruction, there is no one there!

    It is just a few union leaders, politicians and campaigners.

    They have already lost!

    Comment by Nan G — February 17, 2010 @ 6:33 pm - February 17, 2010

  13. OK, wait – no one here thinks that the statement in question is simplistic and unduly tribal and divisive? No one here thinks that there are just as many examples of “the politics of personal destruction” on the right as there are on the left? No one here thinks that are just as many examples of “failure to engage on the battlefield of ideas” on the right as there are on the left?

    You cannot honestly believe Dan’s statement. You cannot honestly be so angry at those who sometimes disagree with you, that you cannot see that Dan’s statement is simplistic, unduly tribal, and divisive.

    I am astonished.

    It is no wonder this nation is in a political logjam. If you cannot concede such a clear and obvious point; it is no wonder that this nation is in a political logjam. All reason has flown.

    Comment by Phil Holmes — February 17, 2010 @ 6:34 pm - February 17, 2010

  14. Phil, you said that already. Maybe if you yelled it louder it would become true. You really sound like an arrogant douchebag. Sounds like you are angry Phil. We don’t agree with you Phil. Maybe you could turn on NPR

    Comment by gus — February 17, 2010 @ 6:47 pm - February 17, 2010

  15. Phil we’ve only gotten into a log jam since LIBS got Congresss and started bullying.

    Comment by gus — February 17, 2010 @ 6:59 pm - February 17, 2010

  16. phil i agree with you but i’ve learned that it’s a tough slog to change minds in this forum.

    dan, the problem with being a myopic ideologue is that it’s easy to prove you wrong. conservatives don’t engage in politics of personal destruction? what a joke.

    http://www.towleroad.com/2010/01/illinois-senate-candidate-mark-kirk-im-not-gay.html

    Comment by Chad — February 17, 2010 @ 7:24 pm - February 17, 2010

  17. and didn’t your co-blogger refer to michael signorellie as a “piece of human filth” just a few days ago? oh wait, this must be a sterling example of how, in your words, conservatives engage in the battlefield of ideas.

    Comment by Chad — February 17, 2010 @ 7:32 pm - February 17, 2010

  18. Chad, where did I say that conservatives don’t engage in the politics of personal destruction?

    I never said such a thing for I know that it occurs on an all too regular basis. I contend it’s more a defining feature of the left than it is on the right. Look how most conservatives respond to Obama by addressing the statist nature of his policies, contrast that with the treatment the left metes out to Mrs. Palin.

    And yeah, I know there are some isolated nut cases on the fringes of the right who level similar accusations against the president.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — February 17, 2010 @ 7:46 pm - February 17, 2010

  19. The left is unhinged. Phil and Chad can cry and whimper all they like, but they elected an imcompetant dishonest boob. I’m pretty sure they know by now.

    Comment by gus — February 17, 2010 @ 7:59 pm - February 17, 2010

  20. It’s Alinsky tactics 24/7 for these scumbags on the left, isn’t it?
    See how they whine like little 2 year old girls when some of it gets thrown back in their faces.
    I’ve believed for some time that it’s every bit as important that we conservative/libertarians win the culture war as it is that we win the war on terror. Going 1-1 is tantamount to going 0-2. It’s long past time that good, decent Americans start fighting back, using THEIR tactics against them.
    I’m tired of having leftists d*****bags like Phil and Chad (and Tano and Levi) shove their statist, leftist, socialist, Marxist, communist bullshit down our throats.
    Speaking for myself (as a first time commenter at a blog that I like and check in on almost daily) and my family, friends, and co-workers; if folks like the leftist swill that post here don’t start backing off, they’re going to get hurt.
    And I mean that in the most literal (and legal) senses of the word.
    You f***tards from liberal-land can start whining and crying again about all the mean, nasty bogeymen (and women) on the right who threaten you and hurt you feewings……
    Get ready for a MASSIVE dose of the ‘boomerang effect’ for all the sleazy bullshit you’ve dumped on us for the last 40 years.
    You’re time is running out……better start checking on airfare to Europe…one way.

    Signed,
    An America loving patriot who’s mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore

    Comment by Jman1961 — February 17, 2010 @ 8:03 pm - February 17, 2010

  21. Dan, you asked: “Chad, where did I say that conservatives don’t engage in the politics of personal destruction?”

    Way at the front of your blog: “…it seems the primary difference between conservatives and liberals in contemporary American politics is that whereas we wish to engage on the battlefield of ideas, they wish to play the politics of personal destruction.”

    WE wish to engage on the battlefield of ideas…
    THEY wish to play the politics of personal destruction…

    My hometown newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, is no liberal rag, it has its root in the Richmond News-Leader, which was about as conservative as a newspaper could get. Read this line from their editorial this morning regarding the possible ramifications of Evan Bayh’s decision not to run for re-election:

    “If the GOP does recapture Congress, then it will have to be prepared to govern. The Republican record inspires scant confidence. Most of Nancy Pelosi’s imperfections, for instance, have precedents from the tenure of Tom DeLay.”

    That is a conservatism that I can read – that is a conservatism that has its roots in the search for truth and in one-upmanship or gaining ground on the “other side” or hacking for one party or the other.

    It takes courage to see the truth of the situation. Anyone can throw meat to animals.

    Comment by Phil Holmes — February 17, 2010 @ 8:22 pm - February 17, 2010

  22. apologies, should have taken another moment to re-read and edit, should have said, “…that is a conservatism that has its roots in the search for truth and NOT in one-upmanship or gaining ground on the “other side” or hacking for one party or the other.”

    Comment by Phil Holmes — February 17, 2010 @ 8:23 pm - February 17, 2010

  23. When George Bush’s operatives plant the suggestion in South Carolina in the 2000 campaign that McCain’s Bangladeshi granddaughter is actually his illegitimate black child, that is not the politics of personal destruction?

    No.

    Because when Barack Obama’s operatives planted the suggestion nationally in the 2008 campaign that Sarah Palin’s child with Down Syndrome was actually her daughter’s illegitimate child and that Palin faked her pregnancy to cover up the fact, that was in fact wholly supported and endorsed by liberals, the Obama Party, and the left, and is still being repeated by the Obama Party’s paid media outlets such as MSNBC, Media Matters, and Andrew Sullivan.

    If it were wrong, you’d be criticizing that and holding Barack Obama and liberals accountable, just like you are trying to do for Bush and conservatives. You are not. Therefore, it becomes obvious that it’s not the behavior that bothers you, but the political affiliation.

    When, during the last year, when representatives held town halls and they were drowned out by mostly conservative people who stood there and just yelled the most silly, incorrect, and insipid nonsense, seeking only to drown out any other voices, that was engaging in a meaningful discussion about ideas?

    No.

    Because, when Barack Obama’s operatives were specifically ordered to “drown out” opposing voices at town halls, this was in fact wholly supported and endorsed by liberals, the Obama Party, and the left, and in fact was gleefully carried out by Obama Party supporters, especially the SEIU.

    If it were wrong, you’d be criticizing that and holding Barack Obama and liberals accountable, just like you are trying to do for Bush and conservatives. You are not. Therefore, it becomes obvious that it’s not the behavior that bothers you, but the political affiliation.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — February 17, 2010 @ 8:24 pm - February 17, 2010

  24. “If the GOP does recapture Congress, then it will have to be prepared to govern. The Republican record inspires scant confidence. Most of Nancy Pelosi’s imperfections, for instance, have precedents from the tenure of Tom DeLay.”

    But, of course, they don’t attack Nancy Pelosi, only Tom DeLay.

    Classic example: Pelosi, Barack Obama, and the Obama Party screamed and threw fits, claiming that anyone who in any way broke campaign finance laws was not fit to hold any leadership position or to even serve in Congress and should resign immediately.

    And what has Pelosi done?

    A fund-raising committee run by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was fined $21,000 for improperly accepting donations over federal limits, according to records and interviews.

    The political action committee, Team Majority, was one of two PACs Pelosi used to fund candidates during the 2002 campaign. She stopped raising and donating money through the committee more than a year ago, after complaints that she was improperly using the multiple PACs to exceed limits.

    Once again, it isn’t the principle or the rule; it’s the political affiliation.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — February 17, 2010 @ 8:31 pm - February 17, 2010

  25. Let’s not forget those allegedly august town halls that were packed with union members so regular citizens couldn’t get in. Not to mention the town halls where citizens, who were kept out, were shoved and assaulted by liberals. Was that the kind of “meaningful discussion of ideas” you’re talking about, dumbass?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 17, 2010 @ 11:17 pm - February 17, 2010

  26. It is no wonder this nation is in a political logjam.

    Thank God!!! Maybe American businesses can get back to work and start hiring again without having to wait and see how much tyranny we’re gonna get.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — February 17, 2010 @ 11:20 pm - February 17, 2010

  27. I agree that the conservative/liberal dichotomy presented here is far, far too simplistic.

    That being said, the “attack plan” presented here is reprehensible. It would be when used by either party.

    Comment by DRH — February 17, 2010 @ 11:30 pm - February 17, 2010

  28. Gee the Dems hope to expose some TEA Party folks as being nutjobs. I’m shocked. /sarc Fact of the matter is that I KNOW some of there are, just like there are some in the GOP and DNC. So what? This has ZERO to do with what the main focus of the TEA Party movement is protesting.

    Comment by John — February 18, 2010 @ 9:51 am - February 18, 2010

  29. and let’s not forget calling Obama a Nazi . sigh. Nazis don’t like black people. Real Nazis or neo-Nazis don’t even invite black people to the summer picnic. But now, he is their leader?

    and wasn’t Hillary a (gasp!!!) lesbian? Wasn’t Governor Richards accused of being a lesbian too?

    finally, do you really believe the Palin is the brightest bulb in the chandelier?

    Comment by Mark W aw — February 19, 2010 @ 1:04 pm - February 19, 2010

  30. um, Mark W, you’re focusing on isolated protesters at Tea Party rallies, most of them affiliated with the organization of a Lyndon LaRouche, who is anything but a conservative and definitely not a Republican.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — February 19, 2010 @ 1:08 pm - February 19, 2010

  31. dan, you’re totally backpedaling and obfuscating, as usual. you can’t justify your conclusion that liberals engage in politics of personal destruction to a greater degree than conservatives with a scintilla of evidence. your own biased and self-serving characterizations of the criticisms directed towards obama and palin are insufficient.

    Comment by Chad — February 19, 2010 @ 4:27 pm - February 19, 2010

  32. Did you miss something, chad?

    Because when Barack Obama’s operatives planted the suggestion nationally in the 2008 campaign that Sarah Palin’s child with Down Syndrome was actually her daughter’s illegitimate child and that Palin faked her pregnancy to cover up the fact, that was in fact wholly supported and endorsed by liberals, the Obama Party, and the left, and is still being repeated by the Obama Party’s paid media outlets such as MSNBC, Media Matters, and Andrew Sullivan.

    Meanwhile, simple answer; Obama’s tour de force on the campaign trail screaming that anyone who voted for Scott Brown was a racist teabagging Nazi who hated women.

    You don’t hear this because you simply are not capable of recognizing behavior as wrong when it comes from an Obama Party member and/or liberal. Your moral compass, such as it is, points in one direction: anything that an Obama Party member does is right, and everything that a conservative, Republican, or anyone else does is wrong.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — February 19, 2010 @ 6:59 pm - February 19, 2010

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