Peggy Noonans latest examines four recent episodes of "free speech" that demonstrate the madness prevailing on the left--despite their apparent approach to electoral victory. She looks at a shouting down of Minuteman leader, Jim Gilchrist, at Columbia University; the outrage following a suggestion from a man whose daughter was killed at Columbine, that recent school shootings might be related to an overall lack of respect for God; Barbra Streisands cussing out a fan at a recent concert because he apparently did not wish to pay for her political posturing; and the latest of a series of verbal intimidations coming from Rosie ODonnell on "The View" (which, in my never to be humble opinion is the most brain-dead talk show ever created). Noonan concludes that these outbursts of intolerance from the left are, in a certain sense, inexplicable . . . coming, as they are, on the eve of an apparent liberal electoral victory. Why are they so angry and so crazed and so intolerant unless, as she suspects, they cant afford to be tolerant or calm. Noonan correctly notes that a liberal victory, should it come, will come in spite not because of folks like Steisand, ODonnell and student activists at Columbia.
To be sure, there are some conservative nutters out there. But they never have garnered much respect, even in conservative nutter circles! If anything, conservatives and Republicans are too polite, too acommodating, and too civil. Genuine respect for debate and civility is fine, but why cede ground to loons? The loonier the liberal, it seems the more he is lauded by liberal partisans and the more he is feared by Republican lawmakers. Like Elizabeth Hasselbeck on "The View" conservatives often seem like token opposition--there but not with much there there. "Heres my opinion . . . now please dont beat me!"
On the other hand, there is no evidence that this openess to liberal lunacy advances the cause of either liberals or of conservatives. In California, for example, Phil Angelides is actually running ads where an actor portrays a "young Phil" with love and butterflies 60s music playing in the background. Young Phil, a clean-cut little hippie in college, is learning more about a rally to oust Nixon. In another scene, hes involved in actions against the (Vietnam) war. He continues in that tradition, even today as a neo-hippie pastes an Angelides sign on a college bulletin board. Yeah, hes a real fighter. Hes sewn up that college protester vote. And . . . hes way down in the polls! Now, true to his student protester form, hes whining about not getting his 15 minutes on Jay Leno like Arnie did. Arnie laughs at him and, adding insult to injury, pointed out in a recent debate, that debating Angelides was like having dinner at Uncle Teddys house.
The desperation of the Angelides campaign is almost painful to watch. But Arnie has made it entertaining. Republicans can learn something from him. The desperation of other liberals--who seem to be losing despite winning--is even more painful to watch because conservatives--or, to be more specific--Republicans, seem incapable of exploiting it. Granted, all Arnie has to do is smile for the camera and throw out a joke or two about Uncle Teddy. Angelides is just a fly to be swatted for him. But the difference is that he swats! The lack of traction Angelides has in CALIFORNIA must show Republicans that if they lose this thing in November it will not be because of anything Democrats have done (the good news), but because of what they have not done (as usual, and the bad news). Its time to get out the flyswatters!