Did you hear about the latest episode involving talk radio host and NYT bestselling author Mark Levin?
The guy went out and said the President and his friends were engaged in a "ruthless war" of "unmitigated plunder of the public trust." Winding up in a serious rant he assailed "the purchase of votes, the corruption of elections officials, the bribing of legislatures…and the flagrant disregard of laws" that "threatened the very foundations of democracy." He even got religion, saying it was time to "drive the money changers out of the temples of democracy." Later he went the inevitable Hitler route as well, using the dictator's infamous book Mein Kampf to compare to liberals he said were using "deception and disinformation against enemies, real or imagined."
Wow. Strong stuff. Ruthless war, unlimited plunder, corruption, bribes, Mein Kampf.
What was remarkable about all of this was the way David Frum of the New Majority so quickly got on Levin's case. Calling Levin part of the "Reckless Right," he said Levin's remarks were "outrageous" and would inspire people to show up with guns at Obama rallies.
Then he said…
Oh. Sorry. My mistake.
Those quotes above? They were actually made not by Mark Levin in 2009 but by PBS TV host Bill Moyers back in 2007 when he was addressing the General Synod of the United Church of Christ -- the same day a speech from a then-Senator named Barack Obama was delivered to the same audience on "The Politics of Conscience." Moyers was talking about George Bush, and Obama seemed not mind. The riff about Hitler and Mein Kampf was elsewhere and compared them, of course, not to liberals but to -- yes -- the Pentagon.
Interestingly, David Frum had nothing to say about this kind of rhetoric from Moyers when he appeared Friday night on the, well, Bill Moyers program "Bill Moyers Journal." Nope. The cat apparently had Frum's tongue.
Moyers remarks were made after it had become public that the Secret Service had begun an investigation of a man they say brought a gun to a rally featuring then-President George W. Bush. This is the same Moyers who engineered the famous "Daisy" TV commercial in 1964 that said, in the words of its target, "Barry Goldwater would blow up the world if he became President of the United States." Hey, no reckless stuff there, Right?
The point here is not Moyers, who seems not to have changed his ways whether he was inciting rage in 1964 or 2007. The point isn't even "what if somebody had shot Barry Goldwater or George Bush" because of Moyers.
The point here is that second, people who act violently are responsible for their own acts.
But if we're headed for a discussion about violence directed against presidents, since Messrs. Frum and Moyers opened the discussion, it's worth noting that three of the four men who assassinated presidents were -- yes indeed -- men of the left. Charles Guiteau, who shot James Garfield, is known to history as the "disappointed office seeker" -- which is to say a guy who didn't get a job he felt owed. The others -- John Wilkes Booth (Lincoln) was furious at the "tyrant" Lincoln for his military victory over the Democratic Party's backbone, the slaveholding aristocracy. Leon Czolgosz, McKinley's assailant, was a fervent socialist and anarchist. JFK's Lee Harvey Oswald was famously a would-be defector to the Soviet Union and an ardent fan of Castro. Other would-be shooters include Giuseppe Zangara, who managed to kill the Mayor of Chicago when he was riding in a car with FDR. Said the furious assassin at his trial:" "I have the gun in my hand. I kill kings and presidents first and next all capitalists." Likewise was the attempt to kill Truman done by left-leaning Puerto Rican nationalists, two attempts against Ford by radicalized women, and the attempt on Reagan done to impress the left-leaning actress Jodie Foster.
In other words, violence like this has historically been driven by leftists. That said, it is little short of crazy to be blaming this kind of thing on anyone other than those who do the violence.
But first and foremost, it is not just insultingly despicable -- disgraceful -- for Frum to disparage Levin, Limbaugh, and others for inviting violence. To put up a link to Levin on the Hannity show where Levin makes it crystal clear he is talking about a political war -- then pretend he said something else is little short of nutty. But if that's Frum's text, to remain silent while sitting across a TV set from Moyers -- who has done exactly what Frum professes to be so disturbed about -- shows a considerable measure of bootlicking gutlessness.
Yes, Bill. No, Bill. Thanks for having me on the show, Bill. Did I miss anything, Bill?
Respectfully, David, you did. You left your integrity on the set.
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