Jewish World Review Nov. 28, 2000 / 1 Kislev, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- ONE THING is clear, the Democrats want to win more than the Republicans. What's less clear is whether they want to win for the right reasons.
Consider the recent examples of two prominent Democrats. First, there's Jesse Jackson. The reverend - whose only real parish is whichever television studio he's currently inhabiting - wasted no time dropping into West Palm Beach. His mission, with the clear approval of Al Gore's campaign, was to taint the legitimacy of the Florida election by leveling outrageous accusations.
"This is a replay of Selma, Ala., all over again," Jackson said numerous times in numerous ways, referring to the famous 1965 civil rights battleground. Invoking the spilt "blood of blacks and Jews," Jackson denounced the now infamous "butterfly ballot," which a Democratic official designed in order to make the type bigger to help older folks with poor eyesight. How, exactly, this compares to police using dogs and nightsticks on teen-agers is a bit confusing, to say the least.
Jackson has plenty of experience flying around the country to inform people their country is racist. He must know what he's doing. His motives for fomenting confusion and conspiracy theories couldn't possibly have to do with his desire to be America's leading rabble-rouser, could they? We should take him at his word that he believes the - often rhyming - words coming out of his moth.
When he told distraught Holocaust survivors living in Palm Beach - without any evidence - that they were "targeted" by a "large and systematic" conspiracy to take away their votes, he must have believed it. Surely he sincerely believed that he was lowering tensions by telling Jewish and black voters, "We must stand together or we will perish alone"?
Or take Paul Begala the former Clinton aide and apologist who now co-hosts a show on MSNBC while he serves as an adviser to the Gore campaign. Night after night, Begala has railed on TV about "illegal ballots" and the like without having a care in the world about whether the law or the facts were on his side. That's fine, Begala had to master the art of saying and defending untruths when he worked as the chief apologist for Bill Clinton's Oval Office escapades.
But then came his recent column for MSNBC.com. In it, Begala rebuts an idea put forward by the New York Daily News' Mike Barnicle, among others, that the Election Day results reflect a cultural divide in this country.
If you look at a county-by-county map of the United States, you'll see a vast swath of red where Gov. Bush won the South, Midwest and Rocky Mountains. Gore, in blue, holds the coasts and a few major urban centers. Barnicle described the divide as "Wal-Mart vs. Martha Stewart" and "Family values vs. a sense of entitlement."
Begala offered a response in which he, and the Gore campaign, seem convinced the ends justify the means. "But if you look closely at that map" Begala writes, "you see a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart - it's red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay - it's red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees - it's red. The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they're all red too."
Let us put aside the issue of how quickly a conservative like me would lose a cushy job like Begala's if I were to indict all the blue parts of the map by selectively citing a few horrendous or dismaying acts by an even more select few blacks, gays or other minorities.
Instead, just consider what it means that two of the leading voices of the Democratic Party are willing to justify their rhetoric and tactics because they believe a large and powerful segment of their society is hateful, corrupt and bigoted. It must surely be comforting to be convinced your opponents are evil; it must be doubly so to be convinced that much of the country you are trying to lead is as