BEST I CAN TELL, Bob Tyrrell went too easy on the disloyal opposition when, in his new book, he confirmed “The Death of Liberalism.” To be sure, he’s dead right to insist that the current president will not win re-election this fall. He’s said so from the start, at least since Mr. Obama’s desultory inauguration, and he’s kept at it in a line as straight as the one you see on a monitor when a patient’s heart stops beating. Yet Bob, ever the purposeful optimist, also thinks that because liberals are politically dead, the worst might be over for America. I’m less confident. After all, wasn’t it Bob who told us that the liberals’ one abiding trait is a chronic need to disturb their neighbor? That could explain why even in death they seem totally unwilling to rest in peace.
For a year and a half they disturbed the great neighborhood of Wisconsin, hiding in Illinois bunkers, turning the state capitol into their Winter Palace, launching recall after recall of any official deemed too Republican-skin privileged. Of course it ended badly for them, as the governor they compared to Hitler and Mussolini easily “survived” the June 5 recall vote and set the great liberal project back even further than their great current president has. But when you’re dead you don’t always think too clearly.
Their Wisconsin post-mortems were confused. One line was that the recall business was a bad one to pursue. Not that they wouldn’t do it all over again. Not that any of it really mattered. Another was that Joe McCarthy continues to be a bad influence on Wisconsin male voters. Yes, that’s from the former Mr. Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, writing in the Nation, which doubles as the Pravda of Madison. Nationally they took comfort in exit polls that had Mr. Obama easily carrying the state against Mitt Romney-the same exit polls that had the recall as a dead heat.
Oops, bad choice of modifier. Better to use Wolf Blitzer’s language, when at 9:00 p.m. on recall election night he practically screamed, “Look at this! Our exit polls show it’s a 50-50 race as of this minute.” I hadn’t seen Wolf so animated since the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles when Christie Brinkley flew into his CNN aerie. Alas, 60 minutes later Wolf was back with “breaking news.” “Uh,CNN can now project a winner in the Wisconsin, uh, gubernatorial contest.” Wolf was his usual glum, zombie self again (I thank Rush Limbaugh for his transcription) and CNN returned to its pathbreaking coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
So where do they go from here? Seriously. With every word I type, another leading liberal is jumping ship, if not leaping from the tallest building, to distance himself from the president’s reelection game and warn his defeat is nigh. At this rate a new branch of political science will emerge, to study how many times adherents of a political tendency already pronounced dead will attempt to escape from death.
What issues can any of them run on? Our European future (p. 40, p. 54)? The U.S. debt and ever weaker currency (p. 20)? Taxmaggedon (p. 44)? Diminishing rule of law (p. 46)? Washington insider distrust of today’s Republican Party (p. 76)? California’s collapse (p. 64)? The sanctity of marriage (p. 14)? Ah, yes, there we go, that’s their winner, assuming Messrs. Biden and Obama are allowed to double as wedding planners and crashers.