Writing on today’s Wall Street Journal op-ed page, Thomas Frank condemns the Democrats’ decision to “complain to the referee” (my words) about GOP incivility rather than take the debate head on. Among other things, he writes, the approach “goes against the old rough-and-tumble image of the Democratic Party and confirms instead the effete latte-and-sushi stereotype of recent years.”
It’s a good piece, but the closing offers a lot of wisdom and good advice packed in three little paragraphs:
“The health-care showdown should have been a one-sided blowout. And yet it is the Democrats who are running to the playground monitor and watching their support drain away.
Why? Because from the beginning they have understood the problem primarily as a technical consumer issue, not a bid for social justice in a manifestly unjust time. In their criticism of the insurance industry they have largely avoided terms like “profiteering” in favor of dry talk about lower costs and more competition—hardly an ideal platform from which to launch a crusade.
Conservatives, on the other hand, have been crusading nonstop since the days of Barry Goldwater. Every economic issue is a grand moral issue for them—this particular one, even in its lukewarm Senate Finance Committee version, is “a stunning assault on liberty,” according to Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.)—and until liberals are prepared to contest those terms, they will have to live with a little incivility.”
Amen, Brother Thomas. Can I have an amen?