Grover Cleveland Will Have His Revenge

Blogs for Bush contributor Mark Noonan:

I really do urge our Democrats to step back from the edge -- you are sitting in a lake of gasoline and you are playing with fire. We on our side will only put up with so much before we start to pay back with usury what we have received.

DailyKos diarist Hunter:

This is the world you forged and, unfortunately for you, I'm beginning to take a fancy for it. Welcome to the politics of your own party, finally sprouting from the ground on which you planted the seeds and ---- upon them.

When two political blowhards engage each other in back-and-forth argument on the Internet, it always reads like foreplay to me. I would not be surprised to learn that James Carville deflowered Mary Matalin on the set of Hardball after a particular divisive joint appearance. Or that Chris Matthews stuck around to take pictures.

We're mass producing stupid in American politics these days, but the absolute nadir has to be the following argument, whether offered by a Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, Kossack, or Little Green Football:

Things didn't get ugly until your side began the politics of personal destruction. We were perfectly happy to fight by Marquess of Queensberry rules, but after what you just did, you will have no one but yourself to blame when I vigorously knee you in the nuts.

Gutter politics is as American as insider trading and jazz music.

If you must cling to the belief that the other guy started it, show some historical perspective and reach back further than Robert Bork, Vince Foster, or Richard Nixon to rationalize your behavior.

Any underhanded actions I undertake in support of the Democratic Party will be motivated by the ill treatment Grover "Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa?" Cleveland received from Republicans in 1884.

Just because a man sleeps out of wedlock with a troubled woman who had multiple sex partners, accepts paternal responsibility even though the child might not be his, sends the toddler to an orphanage instead of taking him in, then persuades her to give the boy up for adoption, that's no excuse to make the subject a character issue during a presidential campaign.


Most people aren't as steeped in historical, political guttersnipism as you, Rogers. They tend to discuss the 'historical' present, in relation to their age. From WWII, up until Goldwater ran for office, the political scene was fairly free of the effort to defame an opponent ad hominem. It is my impression that the war had made *everything* a bit more serious and which resulted in actually addressing, arguing about serious issues, rather than attempting to elevate oneself or party by denigrating the other side.

All that changed when the Democrats were so successful in lying/misrepresenting what Goldwater would do. It reestablished the grand old American game of the petty politics of personal destruction -- to play to the ignorance of the public and pander to their fear rather than their reason.

Like commanding the betting in a game of poker, the Democrats took the initiative and have been the party which is most successful in PT Barnum poltics...the Republicans, with their 'moral' platform(s) are at a definite disadvantage in the 'game.' When they attempt to raise, they are called (mocked) on their poor hand.

No one can misdirect like the masters of the game ..."neocons are stupid to think they can impeach someone for a blowjob...!"

Richard Nixon felt so ill-treated by his political antagonists in 1952 that he gave the famous Checkers speech. Though I suspect that World War II was followed by a more serious era for our politics, I don't think that the succeeding 20 years were as free of guttersnipism (nice word) as you do.

Politics is like sausage. No one should watch it being made.

Well, local politics have certainly always had that 'edge' to it, however, I was emphasizing the Democrat's efforts to practice personal destruction, in place of valid political discussion (please -- no quibble about the term 'valid,' okay?)

Perhaps, you can provide an illustration of that tactic, after WWII, as practiced by the Republicans, and before Goldwater?

"Perhaps you can provide an illustration of that tactic,.."

Perhaps I can:

Joseph Welch's quote, "At long last, sir, have you no decency?", comes to mind.

Joseph McCarthy was originally a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. He later switched parties and fought a dirty campaign for the office of circuit court judge, making false claims against his opponent.

After World War II, McCarthy ran against Robert La Follette for the Republican candidacy for the Senate, Wisconsin. Again, McCarthy made false statements about his opponent, even claiming that La Follette had been guilty of war-profiteering (his investments had been in a radio station).

In 1950, McCarthy was being investigated for tax offences and for taking bribes from the Pepsi-Cola company. He asked some of his closest advisers for suggestions on how to retain his seat.

He was advised by Edmund Walsh, a Roman Catholic priest, to begin a campaign to identify and and root out communist subversives in the Democratic administration.

McCarthy thought this was a great idea, and the rest is history.

(The above was adapted from an essay by 'Spartacus'.)

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