April 6, 2005
NOTHING TO OFFER BUT HATE ITSELF:
Look Back at Anger: Why the "vast left-wing conspiracy" failed to unseat President Bush. (JACOB LAKSIN, April 5, 2005, Opinion Journal)
It was several months before Election Day. George W. Bush and John Kerry had pulled to a statistical dead heat, and the pundits were poring over the polls in an effort to divine the reasons for the latest shift in public opinion. But MoveOn.org had more pressing concerns. It was moved to ask its network of true believers: "Why aren't we talking about a landslide in November?"
Such groundless conviction "was not at all unusual in the world of MoveOn," writes Byron York in "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy." The triumphalism flowed, he notes, from a deceptively simple rationale. Feeling a passionate contempt for the president and his policies, the MoveOn rank-and-file labored under the illusion that they represented the majority of the American people.
They weren't the only ones. In the months following the 9/11 attacks, there emerged an activist movement of left-wing loyalists, Democratic operatives and deep-pocketed financiers all united under one aim--to defeat President Bush--and all confident that history was turning in their direction. Mr. York, the White House correspondent for National Review, gives us an engaging account of the partisan passions that made this "the biggest, richest, and best organized movement in American political history" and that ultimately proved its undoing.
All the usual suspects are here: Bush-bashing billionaire George Soros; politicos like Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean; squadrons of Democratic strategists and spin-men; left-wing luminaries like Michael Moore and Al Franken. There are new players, too, like the so-called 527s, ostensibly nonpartisan lobbying groups that massaged campaign-finance laws in the service of the Democratic cause. (The Republicans had their versions, too, of course.) Mr. York even takes us inside the brain trust of the anti-Bush network, the new Center for American Progress. "Our goal is to win," announces John Podesta, the center's founder and head. He means it.
Beneath the patina of confidence, however, the left-wing conspiracy often seems pitiable, as desperate as it is determined. Above all, its members are angry--at the perceived injustice of the 2000 presidential election, at the prospect of long-term Republican governance, at John Kerry's inept campaigning. Even, it appears, at being called angry.
It is the anger that does them in.
The politics of anger and hatred has an abysmal track record in American presidential politics. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 6, 2005 12:00 AM