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Jewish World Review / Oct. 19, 1998 /29 Tishrei, 5759

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas The mean machine

THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE ELECTION, Democrats of the liberal persuasion are bawling about the "meanness'' of Republicans in an attempt to divert attention from substantive arguments about important issues, such as impeachment.

When they are losing, Democrats invoke meanness and its evil twin, fairness. They subscribe to the old European "divine right of kings'' philosophy, under which political power belongs to them forever. Republicans who challenge this notion and win positions of authority are to be regarded as trespassers and usurpers.

President Clinton continues to play to this mentality. Only he (and Mrs. Clinton) care about the American people. Everything they propose to do is right and good, and anyone who opposes them is wrong and mean. Only the Clintons care about your health, your children's education, the poor and minorities. Support them, and the country will prosper. Elect Republicans, and religious fanatics will be telling you what to do. Bipartisanship occurs when Republicans give in to Democrats, never the reverse.

Andrew Sullivan played on this discordant theme in a New York Times Magazine cover story on Sunday. Sullivan delivered a diatribe titled "Going Down Screaming,'' illustrated by a man breathing fire. The subhead said: "American conservatism has met with extraordinary success in the last quarter-century, but now the movement has traded liberation from the state for moral righteousness.'' He accuses the right's intellectuals of having "lost touch.''

This is a familiar complaint by those who see their power eroding. When social liberals want to ram something down our throats, we must swallow it and thank them for caring enough to save us. But when we refuse to swallow their line and prefer to stand on our principles and convictions that what they are trying to cram down our throats is wrong, "even unrighteous,'' then we join the company of the "damned'' (by the liberal establishment) and are declared out of touch, intolerant and, above all, mean.

People are mean when they try to save the nation from the consequences of liberal ideology. They are mean when they say there is more to life than succumbing to the perceived pleasure of the moment. Linda Tripp is mean because she taped conversations with Monica Lewinsky. Ken Starr is mean because he is after the president. No one suggests that Bill Clinton is mean for the way he has debauched himself and the presidency. Monica Lewinsky labeled as ``meanies'' staff people in the White House who tried to prevent her face-to-groin contacts with President Clinton.

This is the philosophy of self-centered people, a characteristic widespread among many who are part of the generation known as "Boomers.'' That philosophy apparently is also impacting many in "generation next.'' For 35 years the peace-and-love bunch has opposed teaching honorable things, and then they feign shock when dishonor abounds, even in the White House. In fact, they have trouble recognizing dishonor when they see it because they have been inattentive to that high and holy principle.

In the budget debate, Republicans are mean for wanting "to rob'' Social Security by suggesting that overtaxed (by Bill Clinton) Americans ought to be able to keep just a little more of their money. But when the President and Mrs. Clinton announce plans to spend some of that surplus they claim should be preserved to shore up Social Security, they're being good.

Republicans are mean because they don't want to submit to the president's bogus proposal that hiring 100,000 new teachers will teach kids to read. They express meanness when they ask why kids once learned to read in one-room schoolhouses. When Republicans suggest that maybe class or budget size is less an influence than what and how the kids are taught, they are accused of saying mean things.

Some of us thought our parents were mean for making us eat our vegetables and roll out of bed to get to school or work on time. Most of us now know they were wiser than we were. Maybe we'll see that the real meanies are politicians who give us candy when we ought to be eating our vegetables.


10/09/98: Impeachment: an outside perspective
10/07/98: The corruption of the Secret Service
10/02/98: Land erosion in Israel
10/01/98: The race panel: lies in black and white
9/18/98: The Clinton strategy and the Clinton legacy
9/18/98: Stopping him before he sins again
9/15/98: Repenting when the end is near
9/11/98: Faithfully executing: Congress vs. the President
9/10/98: The degrees of separation between Dan Burton and Bill Clinton
9/08/98: Joe Lieberman and the Democrats' conscience
9/04/98: Clinton vs. Reagan and the struggle for power
9/02/98: If only Bubba had been a Boy Scout
8/31/98: Liberal clergy and the Lewinsky affair
8/27/98: Combating the terrorists among us
8/25/98: The president as 'Chicken Little'
8/20/98: That was no apology
8/18/98: Big government's crab grab
8/14/98:Untruths, half-truths and anything but the truth
8/12/98: Lying under oath: past and present impeachable offenses
8/10/98: Endangered species
8/04/98: In search of an unstained president
7/31/98: The UK is ahead of US in one area...
7/28/98: Murder near and far
7/21/98: Telling the truth about
homosexual behavior
7/17/98: One Nation? Indivisible?
7/14/98: Who cares about killing when the 'good times' are rolling?
7/10/98: George W. Bush: a different 'boomer'
7/08/98: My lunch with Roy Rogers
7/06/98: News unfit to print (or broadcast)
6/30/98: Smoke gets in their eyes
6/25/98: Sugar and Spice Girls
6/19/98: William Perry opposed
technology transfers to China
6/19/98: The Clinton hare vs.the Starr tortoise
6/17/98: The President's rocky road to China
6/15/98: Let the children go
6/9/98: Oregon: the new killing fields
6/5/98: Speaking plainly: the cover-up continues
6/2/98: Barry Goldwater: in our hearts
5/28/98:The Speaker's insightful remarks
5/26/98: As bad as it gets
5/25/98:Union dues and don'ts
5/21/98: Connecting those Chinese campaign contribution dots
5/19/98: Clinton on the couch
5/13/98: John Ashcroft: another Jimmy Carter?
5/8/98: Terms of dismemberment
5/5/98: Clinton's tangled Webb
4/30/98: Return of the Jedi
4/28/98: Desparately seeking Susan
4/23/98: RICO's threat to free-speech and expression
4/21/98: Educating children v. preserving an institution
4/19/98: Analyzing the birth of a possible new nation
4/14/98: What's fair about our tax system?
4/10/98: CBS: 'Touched by a perv'
4/8/98: Judge Wright's wrong reasoning on sexual harassment
4/2/98: How about helping American cities before African?
3/31/98:Revenge of the children
3/29/98: The Clinton strategy: delay, deceive, deny, and destroy
3/26/98: Moralist Gary Hart
3/23/98: CNN's century of (liberal) women
3/17/98: Dandy Dan
3/15/98: An imposed 'settlement' settles nothing
3/13/98: David Brock's Turnabout

©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.