Friday, July 30, 2010

Dean And The Demagogues

It cannot be a surprise that those in Connecticut’s left of center community who secretly loathe Republicans not tucked within the Democratic Party heart of darkness continue to advance the political fortunes of so called “moderate” Republicans. They revere and praise ex-Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker at every opportunity and have supported him in the past because Weicker abhors and will not abide conservative Republicans. They urge other Republicans to vote in primaries for those candidates who show themselves willing to sell their birthright for a mess of moderate pottage, even though Democrats they enthusiastically support have driven Connecticut to the brink of bankruptcy.

According to this view of things, Weicker, scourge of the Republican Party, father of the state income tax – a levy that kept the heads of the solidly Democratic governing class above water, even as the drowning masses were blowing bubbles towards the unquiet surface – is the ideal Republican, a man who rubs noses with the Democratic Party elite, someone who is willing and anxious to break political bread with left of center Democrats such as U.S. Senators Chris Dodd and the late Edward Kennedy.

Other moderate Republicans also have received the energetic support of Connecticut’s left of center media. Former Rep. Chris Shays regularly was endorsed by the Hartford Courant until that dark day, a few years ago, when Shays had the effrontery to rebuff his handlers and vigorously support then President George Bush’s plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein, at which point the Hartford Courant threw its endorsement to Shays’ opponent. The last moderate U.S. representative in New England, Shays lost in a squeaker general election.

All this is understandable for ideological reasons. Viewed from left of center, any candidate whose propensities propel him to right of center is a threat to political comity, a disturber of a political peace arranged over the last 30 years in Connecticut by the dominant Democratic political class, which certainly includes large chunks of the state’s status quo media.

Consider Martha Dean, the Republican Party endorsed nominee for attorney general. When Dean launched her campaign last March, it was clear from her announcement that she was willing to present to voters her broad view of politics. All the usual masks were bravely cast off in her unusually literate announcement: She would be Republican Republican, not a pale imitation; she would respect and honor both state and federal constitutions; she would not be ashamed to promote business in the state. Dean put herself forward as a politician willing to be guided by state and federal constitutions rather than the perishable political fads of the moment.

It did not take the liberal rattlesnake long to uncoil and strike. In the blink of an eye, Rick Green of the Courant was referring to Dean’s “cyborg blue eyes.”

Liberals at the paper took issue with her remark that the legislature should consider drug legalization, a political position long embraced by liberals and others who even now wince when they consider that prisons are bursting at the seams with people arrested for relatively minor drug offenses. It has been years since conservative economist Milton Friedman plausibly argued that the legalization of some drugs would relieve social problems. More than seven years ago, Bill Buckley shocked his brethren by agitating for the legalization of marijuana as a test to probe the question: Would legalization be more harmful than a present policy that packs jails mostly with young black  men drawn into gangs by the lure of lawless money making.

An appraisal of these views cannot be compassed within the scope of this modest blog. However, whatever one’s position on the question, it certainly must strike liberals as odd that left of center commentatiors should be attacking Dean for having put forward a position that has drawn notable conservatives and libertarians towards a view concerning the possible benefits of legalization that liberals themselves long have espoused.

By honestly addressing broad political questions that cannot affect her polity as attorney general, Dean soon came under fire for “supporting decriminalization of cocaine and heroin use,” an absurd mangling of her view. It has been bruited about in the Democratic camp that Dean would, as attorney general, “impose her political views on the office.” Her Republican primary opponent has now circulated a campaign brochure containing a suggestive hint that a vote for Dean would be a vote for crack-pipes on every street corner. Others timidly suggest that once Dean is installed as attorney general, kindergarteners would come to school with machine guns in their backpacks.

This is demagoguery of the worst kind, quite on a par with a now notorious Democratic Party ad during the Goldwater campaign showing a little girl picking a daisy, while behind her a mushroom cloud bloomed in the sky. Message: If you vote for Goldwater, you are voting for nuclear annihilation.

It is important to insist on the point that both Republican candidates for attorney general this year have vowed to de-politicize the office – Dean first and then attorney Ross Garber, who came late to the campaign – because that is the bald truth.

Many of the more outrageous rhetorical IED’s lobbed at Dean by her media critics are reprised in a lower key in a recent Courant editorial endorsing her primary challenger.

Prediction: In the general election, the Courant will endorse Democratic candidate for attorney general George Jepsen, because Jepsen has promised to leave the AG’s office unreformed. The former Democratic Party Chairman has promised to continue in the way of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, without question the most politically inspired attorney general in Connecticut history. The Courant’s Republican primary endorsee is little more than a place-holder who will himself be replaced in the paper’s affections as soon as practicable by the more reliable Democratic Party upholder of the status quo.

It is Blumenthal, and before him present U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, who transformed the attorney general’s office into a theatre for boilerplate left of center politics. When Dean ran against Blumenthal in 2002, she was indelicate enough to mention it. And Blumenthal’s admirers in Connecticut’s left of center commentariat will never forgive her the slight. The transformation of the attorney general’s office into a political annex of Democratic Party rectitude under Blumenthal has – for twenty years and more – left the editorial page writers at the Hartford Courant listless and speechless. But now, during a Republican Party primary, the paper, little more than a cheering section for Blumenthal’s endless attempts to bring his office in line with liberal political articulations, affects offense at the impending politicalization of the office by Dean, an imposture that should make all the horned hypocrites in Hell dizzy with envy.

Wonderful, just wonderful.

Dean should tape the Courant’s editorial to her forehead the next time she appears on any platform to denounce the politicalization of the attorney general’s office, pledging, as she often does, to reform the ethos of the office to comport with constitutional and statutory prescriptions – not, be it noted, that the Courant will seriously notice her vow to wrest that office from Democratic Party handlers and return it, reformed and refurbished, to the people whose liberties are fostered not by a politically adroit attorney general but by officers of government whose warrant for governing should elapse when they step outside constitutional boundaries.

Dean should fashion that editorial into a paper flower and pin in below her “cyborg blue eyes” as a red badge of courage.
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