Nobody likes to lose, except maybe the left. That's because it HATES to lose.
What an outpouring since its debacle in France last Sunday. The sky has fallen, the end is near. Workers of the world didn't unite last century. But it's not too late to do so now. Only problem is that the terrifying Jean Marie Le Pen enjoyed "gains in blue-collar communities traditionally loyal to the left," as columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. put it.
Even so, the 17 percent he won is hardly more than his usual take. Scum Vichy nationalist that he's been for years, the fact remains he's been a prominent player for nearly two decades and now that he's well into his seventies his bite may be missing a few teeth. How extremist (as opposed to unsavory) is someone who's became a fixture in the political landscape?
Years ago Le Pen claimed that voters know that he says out loud "what everyone else thinks on the quiet." If that's still the case, the quiet thinking these days has to do with the country's 5 million strong Arab minority and rising crime -- and the left's haughtiness toward anyone concerned with law and order. But how much quiet thinking also connects Le Pen's appeal to the post-9/11 international climate and the fear that a concentrated Arab minority will inevitably contain support groups for international terrorism?
In the U.S. Le Pen is known as an inveterate anti-Semite. Yet according to the Washington Post's foreign affairs columnist Jim Hoagland, "in this campaign he appealed for Jewish and other votes by promising to bring law and order" to minority-dominated areas. In the Wall Street Journal, Michael Ledeen writes that Le Pen recently "surprised many by strongly supporting Israel's self-defense against Palestinian terrorism." In other words, it's only a matter of time before Le Pen is denounced by the left as the Ariel Sharon of France.
It's a wonder that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman hasn't already done so. Perhaps he's waiting to denounce George Bush as the America's Sharon first. Better than any lefty out there, Krugman knows that all roads, even the Champs Elysées, lead to post-Florida Bush America.
You have to read the whole thing to appreciate what Charles De Gaulle would have termed Krugman's l'audace. Or, so to speak, simple gall. In brief here's his argument. Imagine an electorate, 20 percent of it perpetually angry. In France that vote makes its impact in the first round. In the runoff two weeks later, that anger will be little felt, since (in this case) Jacques Chirac will doubtless defeat Le Pen by a huge margin. But not so in the U.S., where the angry 20 percent all reside in the Republican Party. So this is what you're left with:
"In the United States...the hard right has essentially been co-opted by the Republican Party -- or maybe it's the other way around. In this country people with views that are, in their way, as extreme as Mr. Le Pen's are in a position to put those views into practice."
And in case you missed that, he flushes it out some:
"What France's election revealed is that we and the French have more in common than either country would like to admit. There as here, there turns out to be a lot of irrational anger lurking just below the surface of politics as usual. The difference is that here the angry people are already running the country."
To be fair to Krugman, on the strength of his column it's more likely he'll compare Tom DeLay or John Ashcroft to Ariel Sharon before he ever does George W. Bush.
Krugman titles his piece, "The Angry People," and he peppers his copy with references to "angry" people, though he remains clueless about his own deep-seated, distorting anger. But increasingly that seems to be the style of those who claim they feel no anger. Take Al Gore and the speech he delivered on Earth Day, which oozed with contempt for the man who defeated him for the presidency:
"...during the campaign then-candidate Bush himself pledged to bring about a reduction in greenhouse gases. Of course, the day after he took his oath of honor and integrity, he made that his very first broken promise.
"...as I said, I've put this behind me long since -- but refresh my memory a little bit -- did a majority of the American people endorse his policies in the election? He won the election and he is our president, but he ought to be a little bit more careful about claiming that a majority of the voters endorsed his policy payoffs to polluters...
Has M. Le Pen ever charged, like Gore did, that the incumbent's administration, "instead of ensuring that our water is clean to drink, they thought that maybe there wasn't enough arsenic in the drinking water." If anything, that's the kind of rhetoric you hear coming out of Yassir Arafat's camp.
Has M. Le Pen ever charged his opponents with selling out as shrilly as Al Gore did in a lead New York Times op-ed last Sunday?
"Under the presidency of George W. Bush, the environmental and energy policies of our government are completely dominated by a group of current and former oil and chemical company executives who are trying to dismantle America's ability to force them to reduce the extremely dangerous levels of pollution in the earth's atmosphere....
"Other acts of sabotage are taking place behind the scenes...."
Bush? "Sabotage"? In wartime?
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