I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Prepare the noose for Bill Buckley, the Cowardly Traitor

(updated below)

An important and long-overlooked point about the depravity, corruption and truly un-American impulses which define so many Bush followers is revealed by a comparison of these two statements:

Howard Dean, December 5, 2005

Saying the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years. . . .

"I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening."

William F. Buckley, Jr. in The National Review, yesterday

One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. . . .

Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. . . . .

[Bush] will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies. Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat. . . .

These statements, made within a little over two months of each other, are almost identical. If anything, Buckley's statements are a much more emphatic declaration of defeat.

When Dean stated two months ago that we were not winning in Iraq and could not win, Bush followers trotted out their common but literally deranged rhetoric of accusing anyone who opposes the war in Iraq (or Bush terrorism policies) of being a coward, of committing treason, and being a traitor to their country. Indeed, since 2002, Bush followers have been regularly accusing their political opponents who oppose that war of subversion and treason, even as a majority Americans have come to oppose the war in Iraq.

In light of Buckley’s comments, let’s review some of the reaction among Bush followers to Dean’s identical comments about Iraq just two short months ago:

Jim Geraghty, writing in Bill Buckley’s own National Review:

The unified message from the President and GOP surrogates is, "Victory! Elections! They stand up, we stand down!" The message from at least the Dean wing of the Democratic party is, "Withdraw! Defeat! Withdraw! Defeat!"

I think any statement from a national leader that sounds like, "we have been defeated in Iraq" is political nitroglycerin. Families of the troops will be livid at the suggestion that their sons and daughters have failed to achieve their mission.

Should families of the troops be "livid" at Bill Buckley?

Michelle Malkin, the day after Dean's comments:

"Howard the Coward"

The Jawa Report, the day after Dean's comments:

Howard Dean Traitor and Ally to Zaqueery

OK Mr. Traitor, Howie says Mr. Bush is not our enemy. Drop me a line when you wake up to who the actual enemy is. Once again the Left attacks America and
gives terror a free pass.

Ben Shapiro, in an essay bearing the all-American title: "Should we prosecute sedition?" (h/t Hume's Ghost)

Much of the language of the "loyal opposition" has been anything but loyal. . .

Howard Dean, the head of the DNC, averred in December that the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."

At some point, opposition must be considered disloyal. At some point, the American people must say "enough." At some point, Republicans in Congress must stop delicately tiptoeing with regard to sedition and must pass legislation to prosecute such sedition.

And then here was Michael Reagan-- who just happened to appear as guest host on Hannity & Colmes last night, appropriately sitting in for Sean Hannity -- issuing this death sentence for Howard Dean due to Dean's observation (now echoed by Bill Buckley) that we are not winning in Iraq:

Michael Reagan, son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is blasting Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean for declaring that the U.S. won't be able to win the war in Iraq, saying Dean ought to be "hung for treason."

"Howard Dean should be arrested and hung for treason or put in a hole until the end of the Iraq war!" Reagan told his Radio America audience on Monday. Reagan was reacting to Dean's comments earlier in the day, when the top Democrat said that the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."

All of these declarations of treason and calls for criminal prosecution against Dean were based exclusively on his statement that we were not winning in Iraq -- exactly the same statement Buckley made yesterday.

This grotesque exploitation for domestic political gain of patriotism, loyalty and bravery is the single most frequently used rhetorical tactic of Bush followers over the last five years. During this same time, we have been hearing all sorts of complaints about the "Angry Left." Similarly, that the "lefty blogosphere" is composed of enraged, epithet-spewing cretins has become the newly unveiled conventional wisdom among the status-threatened establishment media. And yet, it has become so common as to be routine for Bush followers to stridently accuse their domestic political opponents of being cowards, subversives and traitors, and, increasingly, to call for their imprisonment and/or execution.

While Michael Reagan’s statement about Dean surely was -- in one sense -- one of the single most despicable comments from any political figure in the last decade (and was condemned by virtually nobody), in another sense his comment was not really all that notable. Bush followers have made it a regular staple of our political dialogue for critics of the war in Iraq and/or Bush’s terrorism policies to be accused of subversion and treason.

This is a real question: by the standards which have become commonplace among Bush followers, isn’t Bill Buckley clearly a traitor? We are (of course) in the middle of a war. That war (in Iraq) is the central front in another war we're fighting (the War on Terror, a/k/a the War of Civilizations, World War III, World War IV, the Long War). To surrender in Iraq is -- to use the White House's formulation -- to "surrender to the terrorists." Bill Buckley is clearly on the other side - the side of terrorists. And what a coward he is.

Worse, there are American troops in harm’s way and here is Bill Buckley declaring that Bush has lost the war and should acknowledge America's defeat. Doesn’t Buckley owe the troops an apology? He should be spat on by the families of those troops.

This really is the lowly point to which Bush followers have dragged this country. To oppose the American war in Iraq -- a war that is turning out to be the greatest and most disastrous strategic mistake this country has ever made – has long been sufficient for one to be branded a coward and a subversive. To question the President’s policies on terrorism has resulted in even more severe accusations.

Bill Buckley has now unmasked himself as a cowardly, anti-American ally of Al Qaeda. He wants to wave the white flag to terrorists, and has sabatoged the Commander-in-Chief’s war effort by declaring it a failure. Shouldn’t we bring criminal charges against Buckley, along with demands that he be hanged? On what ground can any of the Bush followers who have long equated opposition to the war with subversion and treason -- and who branded Howard Dean a traitor for a statement identical to the one Buckley made -- oppose those efforts?

The great patriot and American hero Ben Shapiro can prepare Buckley’s noose while that brave American warrior Michael Reagan places the hood over his head and those lovers of American values Michelle Malkin and John Hinderaker lead the throngs as they yell "traitor" and "coward" at Buckley while his neck snaps. That’s the horrendous image which has come to represent the sad, almost-psychotic state of political dialogue which Bush followers have imposed on our country. And that’s just one of the comparatively small harms which the Bush movement has inflicted on America which is going to take quite some time to repair.

UPDATE: As much as they want to, Bush followers can't revoke Buckley's credentials as a conservative since . . . well, he sort of invented conservatism. So, instead, they are now declaring that conservativsm is different than the Bush movement -- something I've been arguing (to the dismay of Bush followers) for quite some time.

Here is Bush lover Captian Ed -- explaining away Bill Buckley -- in the Captain's revealingly entitled post "The Difference Between Bush and Conservatives":

Today's opinion piece by William F. Buckley, the father of American conservatism, highlights the difference between traditional conservatives and the Bush Administration's efforts in foreign policy, along with a host of other arenas.

Bush 43 is not a conservative in foreign policy, at least since 9/11 taught him that genocidal tyrannies in Southwest Asia could produce immediate and existential threats to the American homeland. He has been much closer to Woodrow Wilson than his father or even Ronald Reagan in his reaction to the world.

Bush, of course, is not a "conservative" in domestic policy either, as his record deficit spending, including discretionary non-security-related spending, rather conclusively demonstrates.

As this confession from the Captain reflects, when forced to choose between conservative principles or loyalty to Bush, Bush followers will expressly toss conservativsm overboard and disclaim an association with its principles. I'm pretty sure that was the central theme of an argument I made a week or so ago (entitled "Do Bush Followers Have a Political Ideology?") upon which Bush followers heaped such enraged scorn. It seems that they're coming around to this view, all in a week's time.

That's what will happen when the Father of the political ideology to which they have deceitfully proclaimed allegiance publicly proclaims the crown jewel of the Bush movement to be an abject failure. "It doesn't matter that Buckley says that, because we're not conservatives; we're Bushites." Exactly.

UPDATE II: I have a post up today at Crooks and Liars examining the question of whose judgment was more accurate and wise with regard to Iraq -- Howard Dean's or George Bush's? As their pre-war predictions reveal, it's not exactly a closely contested competition. This matters greatly because we have a serious crisis on our hands in Iraq and Americans must decide whose judgment they believe is entitled to respect with regard to what we ought to do now.

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