It is inevitable that there will be some flaws in our political discourse. Some people are going to get away with a little hypocrisy and a little dish
January 11, 2006

It is inevitable that there will be some flaws in our political discourse. Some people are going to get away with a little hypocrisy and a little dishonesty. Now and then one side will be able to protest behavior which it itself engaged in previously. One expects and can tolerate imperfections of that kind.

But having to listen to Republicans piously lecture everyone on the need for dignity and civility in our political process in the wake of that sorry contrived spectacle yesterday is so patently corrupt that even our national media ought to be able to see that. But they can’t, and so they are actually operating from the premise that Democrats engaged in character assaults on Sam Alito yesterday which truly offend Republican standards of decency and are simply beyond the pale.

Is it really necessary to chronicle the Republicans’ grotesque rhetorical excesses over the last 15 years in order to remind people how they have turned vile character assassination into a sport and, in the process, have dragged our political dialogue into the lowest and most odorous depths of the sewer?

These Paragons of Civility who are oozing sermons today about how such attacks prevent "good people" from entering public service are the same political lowlifes who spent the 1990s screaming that Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster murdered in order to cover up their affair (even though she’s a lesbian) and that Bill Clinton is a serial rapist who oversaw a drug-running operation from an Arkansas airstrip. They spent many years and tens of millions of dollars investigating Bill Clinton’s penis, semen stains on dresses, and Henry Cisneros’ mistress.

They routinely depict political opponents (such as Al Gore and Howard Dean) as being mentally unstable lunatics, and insinuate that war heroes like John Kerry and Jack Murtha are cowards who shot themselves on purpose in order to get their medals. Those who criticize the war policies of the Commander-in-Chief are traitors and subversives, and are deemed to be "on the other side." Rush Limbaugh has spent the last 20 years pumping into the heads of 20 million followers overtly eliminationist rhetoric directed at anyone who deviates from their ideology. He has been joined by a cadre of hate-mongers who do the same.

And as for the grave offense which Republicans suffered from the mere reference to racism or bigotry as part of the dignified judicial confirmation hearings, why is it even necessary to point out that for the past several years, these same distinguished Senators have been expressly accusing Democrats on the Judiciary Committee of being racist, anti-Hispanic, anti-Catholic and anti-women whenever they don’t get their way on every judicial nomination?

Oh, but the Democrats questioned someone who wants to sit on the swing seat of the U.S. Supreme Court for the rest of his life about a group he belonged to which advocates discrimination and, as a result, his wife cried. Are there no limits to the crassness and viciousness of Democrats? How low will they go? As this morning’s headline on the Today Show inquired with deep concern: Have "Democrats Gone Too Far"?

Being subjected to pious Republican preening on the impropriety of this questioning really is like listening to Saddam Hussein rail against the uncomfortable conditions to which he has been subjected since his arrest. In light of the crimes he has committed, hearing him complain of such trivialities of discomfort is just absurd. Republican complaints about the supposedly insensitive and discourteous questioning of Sam Alito are really no less absurd.

Republicans have demonstrated, for two decades now, that there literally are no limits on the accusations they will make and the character attacks they will launch against anyone who opposes their political objectives. How is it even possible to listen to them protest the extremely mild interrogation of Sam Alito and keep a straight face?

--posted by Glenn Greenwald

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