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Another result of the American concept of “government” is that “anti-government” is an ideological designation — albeit usually a tendentious description of one’s opponents. Thus when Bush was president, commentators on the left often attributed administrative failures to his supposed “anti-government” philosophy. Now that an administration is in power that favors increasing state power over domestic affairs, the left’s criticism of the right is even more heated. On NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show in April, Time magazine’s Joe Klein told the host:
I did a little bit of research just before this show — it’s on this little napkin here. I looked up the definition of sedition, which is conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state. And a lot of these statements, especially the ones coming from people like Glenn Beck and to a certain extent Sarah Palin, rub right up close to being seditious.
This is the sort of thing that liberals imagined conservatives were saying about them when Bush was president. Accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, John Kerry declared:
We have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country….We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.
Kerry’s party is now in power, and its leaders and supporters actually are questioning their critics’ patriotism. In an August 2009 USA Today op-ed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called ObamaCare opponents “un-American” (though Hoyer, eight months later, said he regretted using the term). It is clear in hindsight, if it was not already in 2004, that complaints like Kerry’s were a matter more of partisanship than of principle.
Somehow, even the most hysterical critics of Bush’s anti-terror policies were almost never tagged as anti-government. And the truth is that ideological libertarians — those who are consistently anti-government — make up a tiny fringe. Generally speaking, the right favors more limits on government power in areas of economics and personal hygiene, and the left in matters of war and law enforcement.
Fortunately, a consistently “pro-government” view is even rarer. Hardly anyone wants a socialist police state — even if many of us, right and left, are prone to worry that our opponents are moving dangerously in that direction.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?