Craziness on the Left


Observers have had a great deal to work with recently in assailing the nut cases and nastiness on the political right. Like many others who have long considered themselves conservatives, I have often found myself compelled to attack the craziness and vitriol emananating from the right side of the political spectrum.

But civility and decency require that all participants in the political conversation exercise restraint and limit their broadsides to remarks that fall at least modestly within the parameters of fair comment. Though much of the press seems not to notice it, those very diseases for which I and others have so assailed the right are rampant on the left as well.

Let me use two examples, one regarding color, the other regarding conflict.

First, there's the left's continued attempt to play the so-called race card, little affected, apparently, by the country's election of an African-American to the presidency with the support of a considerable number of prominent conservatives, In one instance, Harry Reid, the left's point man in the Senate, gave a chilling speech on the Senate floor in which, as reported by The Hill, a highly-regarded non-partisan Capitol Hill newspaper, he compared Republican opponents of his proposed health-care legislation to "those who opposed the abolition of slavery."

In response, the national chairman of the Republican Party, who happens, unlike Mr. Reid, to be black, and who himself opposes the health care legislation, called the majority leader's comments "absurd and offensive". To label opposition to a domestic policy initiative as akin to keeping human beings in servitude and chains is nasty, nutty, and stupid.

But that is not the only example. Jesse Jackson, in his continuing campaign to insist that blacks -- to actually qualify as black -- must think as he does, took a slap at African-American Congressman Artur Davis, who voted against the House version of the health care bill. "You can't vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man," Jackson said. God and Jesse Jackson now decide who is, or is not, black, and Jackson reserves to himself the right to make the final decision.

But this is not the only kind of nastiness emanating from those on the left who apparently cannot stand dissent from their views. Consider these comments by Keith Olbermann, talking about conservatives:

Olbermann: "their favorite thing - war."
Olbermann: "what they love, bombs and blood."

Responding, the founder of the Daily Kos, Marcos Moulitsas, indicated that he understood why it is that Republicans and conservatives love war, bombs, and blood ("they don't care about the human cost," he said). I am well aware of the hatred and nonsense so often spewed by those who embrace the politics of the Right; I have condemned it often. But there is craziness and hatred on the Left as well, and fairness requires a condemnation not of one or the other but of both.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Mickey Edwards spent 16 years in Congress and 16 years teaching at Harvard and Princeton. He is a director of The Constitution Project and wrote Reclaiming Conservatism. More

Mickey Edwards was a member of Congress for 16 years and a chairman of the House Republican leadership's policy committee. After leaving Congress, he taught at Harvard for 11 years, where he was voted the Kennedy School's most outstanding teacher, and at Princeton for five years. He currently runs a political leadership program for elected officials as Vice President of the Aspen Institute and teaches defense policy and foreign policy at George Washington University. He has been a weekly columnist for The L.A. Times and The Chicago Tribune and is a weekly commentator on National Public Radio. Edwards served for five years as national chairman of the American Conservative Union and the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. He was one of three founding trustees of the Heritage Foundation. In 1980, he directed more than a dozen joint House-Senate policy advisory task forces for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign. He is a director of The Constitution Project and has chaired task forces for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution. He served on the American Bar Association task force that condemned President George W. Bush, and his most recent book, Reclaiming Conservatism, was published in 2008.

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