Requiem for a scream: From Gore to Kerry, Democrats hold a double standard

He betrayed this country! He played on our fears. He took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place.”

Such is Al Gore’s latest denunciation of President George W. Bush, offered to throngs of cheering Tennessee Democrats. Having “(taken) the initiative in creating the Internet,” Gore would seem a natural authority on shamelessly deceiving the public to score political points. And having “found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal,” Gore would seem a peerless source for dramatic revelation (and some truly toxic locution).

But is the Democratic Party, so viscerally and perpetually offended by those errant Republicans who would dare to question its patriotism, the proper forum for such tactless vituperation?

The candidates have spoken and the double standard reigns.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, chief strategist behind the spectacularly inhumane and remarkably ineffective bombing of Serbia, promptly took to the stage and applauded Gore’s Lazarus, returned from the electoral grave to chew on the political grapevine, as a man who “would have been and should have been a great president.” As evidenced by his snarling condemnation of Bush as a latter-day Benedict Arnold, surely Gore would have been well equipped to reconcile with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

On Dec. 11, Clark had ominously warned that Republicans “are trying to take our patriotism away from us – they are trying to say that this flag belongs to Tom Delay and John Ashcroft and George W. Bush.” Thank heavens the Democrats are more inclined to embrace inclusive tactics such as openly accusing Bush of treason.

Sen. John Edwards, the reassuringly Clintonian rising star in the thinning herd of Southern Democrats, took to the podium later at the event, rocking the political world and striking a blow for civil discourse by reiterating that he is, indeed, a Southerner.

Ten months ago, Edwards reacted to Sen. John Kerry’s ill-timed call for “regime change” in the United States by observing that “it’s inappropriate to be questioning Kerry’s patriotism.” In a masterful turn of rhetoric, Edwards elaborated: “I think it’s wrong” – “it” referring to alleged attacks on patriotism, of course, rather than the perfectly defensible tactic of likening Bush to a savage dictator as a war began.

The Democratic vision on national security following Sept. 11, 2001, has been to repeatedly accuse nasty Republicans of abandoning reasoned debate for fear-mongering McCarthyism. Thus, Kerry claims Republican criticism of former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland’s voting record “sickens everybody in our country” – except, evidently, the voters who enthusiastically threw Cleland out of office.

Simultaneously, leading figures in the Democratic Party blithely label the president a traitor. Who said Democrats can’t fight a war on two fronts?

Bush was roundly denounced by the candidates for the rank insensitivity of challenging murderous terrorists to “bring it on” as American soldiers were dying. Now thousands of Democrats gleefully cheer as Kerry has co-opted the phrase as a challenge to the president in the middle of a bloody war.

Evidently, treasonous Republicans deserve harsher rhetoric than criminal Baathists. And calling for “regime change” to deal with a deplorable tyrant is commendable – as long as the target is from Texas, not Tikrit.

Christopher Oster is a political science junior. He welcomes comments at [email protected]