' Bob Tyrell
Jewish World Review Nov. 18, 2004 / 5 Kislev 5765

Bob Tyrrell

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Now Behold the Liberal Crack-Up


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | History takes time. To understand the historic decline of the Democratic Party I have found it useful to reach back to a book I wrote in 1984, The Liberal Crack-Up. It is a diagnosis of what was then the core philosophy of the Democratic Party, liberalism, and a prognosis of its future. Doctor Tyrrell was not optimistic, but history takes time.


Today the Democratic Party has lost both houses of Congress, the presidency, many state offices it had controlled for at least two generations. It is about to be outpaced throughout the federal judiciary. The liberal crack-up began with the defeat of that liberal fantastico, Jimmy Carter. It picked up steam during the 1990s, when the Democrats lost the House and the Senate and many state offices — and the media's legend endures that President Bill Clinton is a political genius. His genius is in self-promotion. He is a cunning huckster. But the liberal crack-up did not reach the point of no return until November 2, 2004. Then on that glad and glorious morn, that reductio ad absurdum of a liberal presidential candidate, Jean-Francois Kerry, the Democratic elites, and all the liberals in the media beheld Victory. It was to be a return to their vicarious lives as Kennedys!, Roosevelts!, Progressives!


Alas, by November 3 their delusions became very difficult to maintain. Sure there are many who still think they won. Doubtless Jean-Francois, his balmy wife, and many in his entourage still feel as morally and intellectually superior as they did in the expectant hours of November 2. Yet clear-headed students of politics today recognize that the Democratic Party has suffered a catastrophic defeat. Some, such as Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago and Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, are politely suggesting that their party is in need of a philosophy transplant, something less narcissistic, less out-of-this world, than the troubled philosophy that since the 1960s has been at its core, namely, liberalism.


Some will say liberalism was the very core of the Democrats' beloved New Deal, but they err. The liberalism of the New Deal was leavened with urban machine politics, Southern conservatism, and that wild and woolly philosophical hybrid, western populism. The liberalism that became rampant in the Democratic Party beginning in the late 1960s drove out all other intellectual impulses. Yes, a poseur such as Jimmy Carter might make a feint towards fiscal conservatism, but he could not resist his education lobby, his environmentalists, or his "minority rights" careerists. And he was most in his element lecturing Americans on their "inordinate fear of Communism" and their "malaise." Today he is just another "blame-America-first" megalomaniac.

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Boy Clinton was not a lot different. His 1992 big spending plans (he called it "infrastructure") and healthcare colossus were kept in check by the country's growing conservatism manifested most inescapably in the Republican ascendancy on Capitol Hill in 1994. His vaunted balanced budget was achieved at least in part by his niggardliness toward the military. His whole egotistic lifestyle was late-twentieth century liberalism replete with zoo sex in the office and hand-holding with visiting preachers and therapists. Then came Al Gore and after that the football-throwing, snow boarding, wind-surfing, bungee-jumping fantasist whose self-important huffiness over being called "French-looking" made teasing him such a delight.


At the heart of the liberal crack-up, which I first diagnosed in 1984, is the impulse to politicize everything from food to sex to happenstance — and to moralize. The liberal of the liberal crack-up is a free-floating moralizer. Such liberals are also dramatists of the most adolescent variety. No human experience is beyond their melodrama. There is no misfortune that they will not exploit for votes. Their politics is built on a world of extremes. The conservatism of President George W. Bush, a conservatism that has been governing America for most of the past 24 years, remains to these liberals shocking, dangerous, or "extremist," as they say.


The liberalism of the liberal crack-up is what is "extremist." Even a sensible idea or a fine principle is exaggerated to the point that it becomes preposterous and untenable. Thus in the last election the perfectly sensible and tolerant solution for stable homosexual couples' legal difficulties, namely, civil unions, was not sufficient. No conscientious liberal of 2004 will be content until the Nation adopts homosexual marriage. Nor will the good liberal accept such limitations on abortion as parental consent for minors. Naturally the good liberal will only accept the most extreme criticism of the Iraqi war. The good liberal increasingly sees politics as a realm dominated by conspiracies and lies. The inflamed drama of liberal politics has become too much for ordinary Americans to endure. The liberal crack-up is beyond therapy. It is history.

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JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

11/11/04: Dems behind the values 8-ball
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08/05/04: Is boxing down for the count?
07/30/04: The cranky convention
07/22/04: France is on the march — so don't dare get out of line
07/15/04: Who's to Run the CIA?
07/08/04: Heroes and celebs: Don't ruin latest 'star'
07/01/04: Gentlemen do not begin a government in the middle of the week
06/24/04: If they only mastered the art of lying
06/18/04: Fie on the French and Germans
06/10/04: Reagan on the Rock
06/03/04: Once again the conservative fuddy duddies are vindicated
05/28/04: Rev. Al eats up City Hall
05/20/04: Pasty prison pastimes
05/13/04: Loss of perspective
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04/29/04: It is 1992 all over again, and I rejoice
04/15/04: There seems to be two George W's
04/08/04: Kennedy & Kerry
04/01/04: Sen. Jean Francois' fun and games are only starting — poor Dems
03/25/04: What really explains the rancor arising in this election year?
03/19/04: College daze
03/11/04: The understandably confused are confused
03/04/04: Hillary, the loyalest of the loyal
02/19/04: Hannity's optimism
02/12/04: The moron vote
02/05/04: At least Lieberman stood for something
01/29/04: Surprised by the government vendetta against Rush?
01/15/04: Eight Angry Men
01/09/04: Doc, the greatest swim coach of all time
01/02/04: It’s lying time again
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12/18/03: Dean and me
12/11/03: Long live Bob Bartley
12/04/03: "Hit 'em when they're down!"
12/01/03: The Wright Stuff
11/13/03: How wrong the naysayers and the utopians have been
11/06/03: Will I be banned from America's campuses?
10/30/03: They don't care about restraint
10/24/03: "The Reagans" and the evidence of a historic life
10/17/03: The Moron Vote
10/09/03: The politics of groping and the groping of politics
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09/26/03: Funny Girly-Boy
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09/05/03: Placating the carpers
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08/07/03: Angry partisans
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07/25/03: They underestimate not only the president, but the American people
07/18/03: The irascible, bigoted Harry Truman was a product of his times
07/11/03: A grand affair of hot colors and surprisingly sedate audience participation
07/04/03: In search of anti-Americanism and the perfect bullfight
06/26/03: Calling on London
06/20/03: Too upsetting for the evening news?
06/12/03: Rain(es)ing Clintoon myths
06/05/03: Hillary-ous is pathetic
05/29/03: Shakedown
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05/15/03 :‘Grey’ turns to grim at Times
05/08/03: The only intellectual force in Western history to gain moral superiority by being wrong
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04/10/03: Baghdad Bob and Tom Daschle
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03/05/03: They just cannot stomach a protracted alliance with the Bushies
02/25/03: Identity gridlock
02/18/03: People calling Dean a fruitcake are underestimating his political savvy
02/13/03: The new political establishment
01/30/03: The time is now
01/27/03: Witnessing self-love by people completely incapable of self-criticism
01/21/03: Of course our kiddies are depressed
01/13/03: Why is it that Official Washington still believes that a tax reduction means a revenue reduction?
01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is … a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
10/31/02: Is the American university turning its back on change, on progress?
10/24/02: So why aren't the Dems buoyant?
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10/03/02: A man above the law, a bully
09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and …
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
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02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies …. Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
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01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
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11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
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11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
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08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The G-dphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate