Friday, October 27, 2006

Santorum and the Four Horsemen of Calumny

Times are tough for Senator Santorum. His losing campaign, watched by the entire nation, must naturally be a source of great strain. And, under that strain, he has cracked.

Over the last couple of weeks, he has told the handfuls of audiences which he now attracts, that his opponent is unworthy to serve, that a vote for his opponent is equal to supporting Hitler in the late 1930s, that a Democratic victory would be a disaster for the Nation and for the World.

He needs do this, one supposes from the evidence, because he lacks any acceptable substantive record. He charges that his opponent is hiding from the issues. In truth, it is the Senator who will not talk of the real issues. He instead relies on a worn old tactic -- scaring out the vote.

Whether it is the scare of brown people risking their life and limb for a few extra dollars to send home or the scare of an imagined gathering storm of riders on horseback bearing curved swords looking queerly at us, he is relying on a scared electorate to rally and send him back to the Senate.

He has served for two terms. In this campaign he does not defend his service, point to his accomplishments, sell his proved worth to his electorate. Instead, he requests -- no he DEMANDS -- another six years based on the most dangerous-sounding future his mind can invent.

Even so, Rick Santorum does not content himself with presenting a world view and debating it, like good citizens in a freedom-loving, democratic America. He invites no debate, allows for no disagreement, recognizes no question. No, he will tell you, disagree with me -- worse yet, elect someone who disagrees with me -- and you invite another Nazi disaster, you threaten your very lives and the safety of your children. In this way, Santorum not only stifles dissent, he makes it unpatriotic to disagree with him, he says it is dangerous to disagree. He says that those who disagree are unworthy to serve, are the bedfellows of terrorists, are the moral equivalent of Nazi appeasers.

We've seen this kind of tactic before, and not only in the last two elections.

June 1, 1950. Margaret Chase Smith, Republican Senator of Maine, speaking on the Senate floor about the then-popular foreign enemy compelling a return of Republicans to power. Re-reading her complete speech this morning made me sad to realize that it was not so very long ago we did, in fact, have true statesmen on the floor of Congress. Here is a portion of what she had to say:
I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition. It is a national feeling of fear and frustration that could result in national suicide and the end of everything that we Americans hold dear. It is a condition that comes from the lack of effective leadership in either the Legislative Branch or the Executive Branch of our Government.

That leadership is so lacking that serious and responsible proposals are being made that national advisory commissions be appointed to provide such critically needed leadership.

I speak as briefly as possible because too much harm has already been done with irresponsible words of bitterness and selfish political opportunism. I speak as simply as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured by eloquence. I speak simply and briefly in the hope that my words will be taken to heart. I speak as a Republican. I speak as a woman. I speak as a United States Senator. I speak as an American. . . .

I think that it is high time that we remembered that we have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution. I think that it is high time that we remembered that the Constitution, as amended, speaks not only of the freedom of speech but also of trial by jury instead of trial by accusation. . . .

Those of us who shout the loudest . . . are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism:

The right to criticize;

The right to hold unpopular beliefs;

The right to protest;

The right of independent thought.

The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know someone who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn't? Otherwise none of us could call our souls our own. Otherwise thought control would have set in.

The American people are sick and tired of being afraid to speak their minds lest they be politically smeared . . . . Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others. . . .

Surely [there] are sufficient reasons to make it clear to the American people that . . . a Republican victory is necessary . . . .Yet to displace [Democrats] with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation.

The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny---Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.

I doubt if the Republican Party could---simply because I don't believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest. Surely we Republicans aren't that desperate for victory.

I don't want to see the Republican party win that way. While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people. Surely it would ultimately be suicide for the Republican Party and the two-party system that has protected our American liberties from the dictatorship of a one-party system.

(The cartoon is by the great Herb Block.)

2 comments:

roxtar said...

That's a great catch. Every elected official should be required to sign off on her "Declaration of Conscience." Senator Smith was wrong about one detail, though.

"Surely we Republicans aren't that desperate for victory."

Of course, Margaret Chase Smith wouldn't recognize the criminal conspiracy that constitutes the 21st Century Republican Party.

Gary said...

I think before they can sware to uphold it, they should be required to memorize and receit the Constitution and the Declaration from heart on commnad of any citizen.