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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Fear and smear

It really is not fair to say that the Republican Congress and administration that it bows in allegiance to are guilty of doing nothing. Republican "leadership" has created a far-more dangerous world than we had on Sept. 10, 2001. And it has stripped the United States of the moral leadership it needs to prevent an even-deeper sinking into the morass.

It seems like a millennium ago when the world (even the French!) expressed compassion and solidarity with the United States. The arrogance of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld machine -- arrogance that has produced the "Axis of Evil" and such devastating spectacles as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo -- has exhausted US moral capital.

The most recent example of what this colossal failure has produced is a story hiding deep inside the A section of the New York Times today. The premise: the Iran is using Hezbollah as its surrogate to smack the United States around and this country doesn't have the resources -- military or diplomatic -- do anything about it.

Iraq was never the major problem among the three "axis" members -- as time has proven. Who has nukes -- Baghdad or Pyongyang? Who is clearly able to back up word with deed? Baghdad or Tehran?

The United States, by itself, cannot handle all the fires that have erupted because of its unilateral, go-it-alone mentality. That means it must depend on allies like those dreaded French to stop the devastation on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border.

Faced with such obvious impotence, what does the GOP congressional lap dog do? Attack Democrats, of course. From the shamelessly partisan attempt to link the minimum wage increase to an estate tax cut to the equally shameless Rovian campaign tactics, the GOP is attacking only those they think they can beat -- Democrats.

Pulling a page from the Campaign '04 playbook, the fear and smear boys are on the march again -- this time taking on 16-term incumbent and Vietnam veteran John Murtha. The chicken hawks are out in force -- questioning his patriotism and bravery because he exercises his First Amendment right to speech.

Time and time again through recent American history -- the Palmer Raids, "Tail Gunner" Joe McCarthy, Spiro "Nolo Contendre" Agnew -- the forces of the right choose fear and smear when pushed to the wall. It is a history of cowardice -- particularly when compared to the actual military service of their recent targets.

It really is high time to ask the question posed Joseph Welch to the Wisconsin senator during the Army-McCarthy hearings.

"Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
Alas, the fear and smear crowd would trot out Anne Coulter with its answer. No.

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