Along the Tracks

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Maybe it was a compliment?

As a conservative columnist for three different newspapers, I get my share of calls from disgruntled readers. Some get a little “fiery,” but most are quite polite, if upset. Nevertheless, they invariably wish to impress upon yours truly just how wrong I am, and a few like to make clear how poorly they believe I write.

Today, a caller offered a critique of my column from last weekend’s Bryan Times which was a first in my annals of insult: “That column you wrote Saturday looked like something I’d read on the Internet.”

I almost said, “Why, thanks!” - but I didn’t want to make him angry. I do wonder who he’s been reading, though: Andrew maybe? Maguire? Steyn? (UPDATE: Tom Maguire is running on the blog equivalent of radio silence - but he's great, trust me!)

I hope so. That’s good company to keep.

Anyway, if you are one of the few people not subscribing, why not? In the meantime, here’s the column in question.

Democrats suffering from Mad Candidates’ Disease

By Paul A. Miller
Leader Enterprise and Northwest Signal

The symptoms are obvious: Incomprehensible babbling, flailing of the arms, wild-eyed ranting, paranoia, uncontrollable cursing and confused denial. No, I’m not writing about Mad Cow Disease. I’m writing about something which spreads in liberal coffee houses, big donor dinners and political war rooms: Mad Candidates’ Disease.

Signs of infection came early among the Democratic contenders for the 2004 presidential race. Howard Dean’s bloodshot eyes and mussed hair as he swore America “wouldn’t always be the most powerful nation” made moderate members of the party pull out their hankies and cover their mouths. But like most illnesses, Mad Candidates’ Disease - MCD - was not so easily avoided. Frankly, not enough Democrats took the simple precaution of washing their hands of Dean and his twisted ravings. Thus, the infectious agent passed from candidate to candidate.

While Dean may have been the “Typhoid Mary” of this campaign, passing his senselessness on to others, the origin of the disease was clearly on the fringes of the party itself, and its first manifestation was the candidacy of Dennis Kucinich. When one considers the fact that a failed former mayor of a major city - he drove Cleveland into bankruptcy in his short tenure - would seriously consider himself, and be seriously considered, a candidate for the highest office in the nation, what word sums up the situation better than “madness”?

Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton similarly came into the race for president as carriers of the bug. Sharpton’s particular sickness is well documented (AOL Keywords: Tawana Brawley), but Moseley Braun’s is more recently acquired. A short-time senator and diplomat dogged by accusations of graft, Moseley Braun nevertheless seems to be the ideal liberal candidate on all the issues - and honestly, her alleged shortcomings pale in comparison to a certain former First Lady who stands as the darling of the party. So why is Moseley Braun not taking the race by storm?

Well, the reason is race. The failure of her candidacy displays more starkly than perhaps any other example that African-Americans are expected to support the Democrats with marching feet and closed mouths. Moseley Braun, afflicted with MCD, actually believed the party would give her a fair shake. Yet, whatever its origins, MCD spread like wildfire. MCD overtook John Kerry when he belched forth such bile as calling for “regime change” in Washington and voting against rebuilding Iraq. Now, he is but a shadow of his former self, changing his mind on Iraq as often as he changes silk dress socks, and muttering obscenities in interviews with Rolling Stone.

The “sensible” wing of the Democratic Party has finally succumbed to the illness as well. The late entry of Wesley Clark was an example of infection driving a person to madness - and candidacy. Clark has said little that makes sense in his four months on the public stage. His illness reached a climax last week when the general uttered some nearly indecipherable comment about Bush’s handling of the Afghanistan war, the gist of which was apparently that, had ol’ Wes been president, he would have called out Osama bin Laden for single combat, mano a mano, for a sword dual a la “Lord of the Rings” - a dramatic proposal to be sure, but perhaps not the best use of presidential power. Clark’s mind has clearly dissolved, thanks to MCD.

John Edwards actually thinks he can convince voters he is a populist, despite getting rich on civil trial verdicts which have driven countless jobs out of the country. Dick Gephardt, after championing a Medicare drug benefit for 25 years, votes against one because he can’t bring himself to be on the same side as the president - on anything.

Perhaps the most shocking case of MCD is the one degrading Joe Lieberman. One would have hoped that his pairing with Al Gore in 2000 would have proved some form of inoculation against the full-blown infection - Gore, after all, was stark-raving with MCD, and still is. Yet poor Joe has finally fallen to the disease, blurting in anger that Gore stabbed him in the back by endorsing Dean.

Joe, you wanted Gore’s endorsement? You must be mad.

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