There was Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First by Mona Charen. (By the way, that's just the title; not the entire first chapter.) There was also The Savage Nation: Saving America From the Liberal Assaults on Our Language, Borders and Culture by talk-show gasbag Michael Savage, who was recently fired from MSNBC for telling a caller to "get AIDS and die!"; The Dark Side of Liberalism: Unchaining the Truth by Phil Kent; Sean Hannity's Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War Over Liberalism; and Guns, Freedom and Terrorism by the current Crown Prince of the gun nuts, Wayne LaPierre.
This really doesn't bother me. Whenever I see these neo-conservatives spouting on TV or in print, I'm reminded of the old saying that the idiot is completely sure of the rightness of his argument while the intelligent person is riddled with doubt.
The liberals held sway for a substantial part of the past 50 years, and they did OK. Liberal thought and action brought us civil and voting rights for minorities, gender equality in the workplace, environmental safeguards, legal protection for gays and educational opportunities for people who previously had none.
At the same time, there were excesses, some of which helped push the pendulum back in the direction that it's headed these days. Some of my fellow liberals, apparently out of selfishness rather than for some higher purpose, adopted a stance that included a complete repudiation of the concept of morality. They somehow lost the ability to say, "That's just wrong." This led to a pattern of behavior and political stances that made them (and the usual political organ of their choice, the Democratic Party) appear, rightly or wrongly, to be anti-family. And please don't give me any gas about how virtually any combination of men, women, children, geese, motorcycles and/or video games can be considered a "family."
Liberals lost the moral high ground they had earned in the civil rights days, and with "family values" becoming the rallying cry, conservatives won the day. Now they've got the ball, and they're running with it. They're all over the place, ranting about the monolithic liberal media, leftist Hollywood and the liberal slant in the judiciary. (You know, that left-leaning Supreme Court that dicked Al Gore in 2000.)
All of this is fine with me. I find it kinda funny and kinda pathetic. But as I was looking through the books, one in particular caught my eye. There in big block letters, was the word "treason." It's part of the title of Ann Coulter's new best seller, Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.
I was stunned that someone, even the vapid and hyperbolic Coulter, would cross that line. Treason is a horrible crime, perhaps the worst crime of all. It's the only crime mentioned in the Constitution and one for which the death penalty is not too severe. But here is a skanky polemicist using the word to try to sell a few books.
Being an inveterate watcher of news-talk shows (even those on Fox News), I was acutely familiar with Ms. Coulter, she of the long, blond hair and the short IQ. Often wearing skin-tight black dresses over her skinny frame (with matching knee-high go-go boots!), she tries to pass herself off as some brainy and beautiful New Right Babe. The brains claim falls apart as soon as she opens her venomous mouth, and while some aging white supremacists might find her good-looking, to me, she always looks like an emaciated hooker on whom no one over the age of 15 would spend more than four bucks.
I wanted to read the book to see if she had the nerve to actually accuse somebody of the high crime of treason, which would be a stupid, dangerous, and--one hopes--a criminally actionable thing to do. However, there was no damn way that I want to put even one penny in her bank account, so I stood there in Barnes & Noble for two hours and read the book. As it turns out, she doesn't accuse one or two people of being traitors to their country. She accuses the entire Democratic Party of being "functionally treasonable."
It's absolutely appalling that her editor(s) let her get away with that; I hope she gets sued. Using your dislike for someone's politics to accuse him of treason is like my saying that I don't like the way you dance, therefore you're a child molester.
The book, as it turns out, has three main points:
1. Joe McCarthy was right.
2. All liberals and/or Democrats have been on the side of our enemies for the past half-century.
3. Joe McCarthy was right.
This Joe McCarthy theme runs through the book, and it's way creepy. You get the feeling that if you gave her three wishes, all three would be that she could go back to the 1950s so she could be one of Joe's hos.
Fortunately, even people on the right are savaging her book and her stances. Andrew J. Sullivan, writing in the July 5 edition of the Sunday Times, put together a scathing indictment of the woman in a piece called "CoulterKampf." The Wall Street Journal ripped her as well. My concern, however, is that Coulter's readers will be even less able to differentiate between hyperbole and libel, and think that it's perfectly OK to throw the "treason" word around.
A few days ago, my son had to get his wisdom teeth removed. I was sitting in the dentist's waiting room when a woman came in with Coulter's book and started reading it. After a few minutes, I asked her, "I'm sorry, but I just have to ask if you really believe that everybody who disagreed with Bush's stance on Iraq is an actual traitor."
She smiled and said, "Not all of them."