I haven't yet read Ramesh Ponnuru's book, "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life." Ponnuru is a highly intelligent and reasonable writer, although his Ramesh religious fundamentalism alarms me, and I've no doubt he has some interesting things to say. I may even agree with some of it. But this much I can say: the title of the book is reprehensible. To call half the country "a party of death" and to assign that label to one's partisan political opponents is not, whatever else it is, an invitation to dialogue. It's demagoguic abuse. It's worthy of Ann Coulter (who, tellingly, has a blurb on the cover). It is one thing to argue that you are pro-life, to use the positive aspects of language to persuade. It is another to assert that people who differ from you are somehow "pro-death," (especially when they may merely be differing with you on the moral status of a zygote or the intricacies of end-of-life care). To smear an entire political party, and equate only one party with something as fundamental as life, is a new low in the descent of intellectual conservatism from Russell Kirk to Sean Hannity. Rush Limbaugh is already on-message:

Ramesh Ponnuru tells the story of how the Democrats became the party of abortion-on-demand and euthanasia, and lost the support of most Americans in the process. He hasn't just written an engaging guide to the Party of Death--he's written a non-vitriolic battle plan on how to defeat it.

Conservative writers have now made fortunes calling their partisan opponents traitors, godless, and now pro-death. Their rhetoric increasingly equates being a Christian with being a Republican. I never thought someone as civilized and intelligent as Ponnuru would sink to this kind of rhetoric. But it tells you something about the state of conservatism that he has.

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