Interesting meta-discussion going on regarding the different rules of engagement that the right and the left are using in political debate these days. I think it’s best summed up by this piece from Dave Neiwart of Orcinus: A little bit about blogging. He links to a more-extensive item from Matt Stoller (Partisanship versus partisansheep), which in turn is a commentary upon this actually fairly vile New York Post opinion piece from Dick Morris: Terrorists for Kerry.
Neiwart and Stoller’s argument is that the left is taking the high road, arguing issues and assuming that the other side has a legitimate place at the bargaining table. The right is taking the low road, doing whatever it can to de-legitimize the other side — and, more significantly, undercutting the very essence of democratic government in the process.
Now, I’m on the left, and the fact that I find this argument compelling can be explained in two ways: Either the perception is true, and I’m being rational. Or the perception is merely the product of a partisan’s one-sided view of reality, and I’m actually being irrational.
But the fact that I’m even considering the second explanation could be taken as confirmation of the argument: Righties aren’t paralyzed by such doubts. I’m suddenly reminded of that Doonesberry cartoon I linked to a while back, so here, let me link to it again: What liberal media?
On balance, I think there really is something here, and it’s pretty scary. For me, it emerges from contemplating the events of the current Bush administration, and comparing them to the events of the Clinton administration. If those on the right who railed against Clinton as an impeachable traitor had been faced with his doing any of the dozens of especially bad things Bush has done, I honestly think their heads would have exploded from the resulting outrage.
They are already working on undercutting the authority and legitimacy of the as-yet-hypothetical Kerry presidency. Stoller and Neiwart are right: This fight is going to be much bigger than just winning the election in November. It’s going to be long, and difficult, and vitally important to the country’s future.