Contrary to Tom Daschle’s third-rate oratory on Wednesday, George Bush is not questioning the Democrats’ hearts. He is questioning their minds. As Bush sees it, they lack not patriotism, but good judgment.
George Bush owes the Democrats an apology for maligning their motives? Motive-maligning is the Democrats’ specialty. Al Gore had done exactly that two days before Daschle’s speech.
It is not Bush, but the Democrats who frequently question people’s hearts. If conservatives oppose them on affirmative action, they are “anti-minority.” If they oppose them on minimum wage, they are “anti-worker.” If they oppose them on abortion, they are “anti-woman.” If they oppose them on Head Start, they are “anti-child.”
Democrats will push a proposal on behalf of some group of people and then instinctively equate conservative opposition to their proposal with lack of concern for that group. If conservatives say, “Well, your proposal won’t help that group,” Democrats aren’t impressed. They continue to argue as if they “cared” more deeply about the group in question. You don’t support our funding of public schools? Well, that means you don’t care about the public schools, they will argue.
Democrats know that they can win debates with this reductive tactic and rarely apologize for it. If Daschle couldn’t use this tactic to push his Big Government agenda, he would have almost nothing to say. Cheap emotionalism is one of the few cards left in his deck. Has he ever, for example, said, “I know the Republicans care as much about the poor as we Democrats do. They just propose different means of helping them”?
Has Daschle demanded that Al Gore apologize to Bush for suggesting that the President is just a political warmonger and for suggesting that he doesn’t sufficiently care about our allies? Will Daschle demand that Gray Davis cease his attacks on Bill Simon as “anti-choice”(just because the Republican candidate is opposed to abortion)?
Of course not. Democrats demand their opponents disarm, then proceed to attack them with the same weapons. Gray Davis sees nothing wrong with defaming Simon as a “right-wing extremist,” even though he knows perfectly well that Simon is a mild-mannered mainstream Republican. But he is making this claim anyway, because he needs to frighten liberals into going to the polls.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Davis, sated with personal attacks against Simon, is moving on to ideological ones. He is sending out mailers saying that “There’s only one way to stop Simon and his radical anti-choice agenda. Vote to protect your rights.”
It is doubtful that Daschle would disapprove. It is just politics, he would say.
Daschle made it sound as if the President’s comments about the Senate’s unwillingness to support his plans for the Department of Homeland Security were nakedly political. In fact, the comments, by Democratic rhetorical standards, were innocuous. He simply said that the Senate “should not respond to special interests in Washington, D.C. They ought to respond to this interest — protecting the American people from future attack.” He said “some senators, not all senators, but some senators” were guilty of playing politics with his bill.
What the Democrats accuse Bush of is on frequent display in their own presentation. Just as Gore once displayed snippiness by calling Bush “snippy,” so Daschle demonstrates partisanship by accusing Bush of it — and by closing his eyes to all the invidious attacks on conservatives from his colleagues.
It is easy to see why Democrats would be upset with someone questioning their hearts. They almost always wear their heart on their sleeve, and assume that it is a larger than their Republican counterparts’. But Bush isn’t scrutinizing their hearts. He is just appropriately worried about the ideas floating in their heads.