Until the announcements of corporate writedowns as a result of Obamacare began dominating the domestic news late last week, the largest story on the national airwaves appeared to be the “question” whether the Tea Party movement was shot through with Ku Klux Klan members and assorted bigots as a result of a cacophonous demonstration outside the Capitol as Democrats sought to vote Obamacare into law.
Now that the smoke has cleared from those incidents, a few lessons can be drawn.
First, if as originally charged there were hordes of Tea Party protestors bleating out the N-word to unsuspecting black Democrat congressmen, everyone would agree that’s not acceptable as public policy discourse. The fact that all responsible parties agree that calling someone by a racial epithet is beyond the pale is both good and bad, however. It’s good because it says we as a society reject the kind of hostility and disrespect of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and that’s progress. But it contains a major drawback as well – namely that because we all agree racism is a bad thing, it’s a tool to immediately discredit an opponent in a debate of any kind.
More on that in a minute.
Second, because of the seriousness of the charge of racism in modern America, it’s of primary importance that such charges not be made irresponsibly or without evidence. We should all be able to agree on that as well.
It appears, however, that this was not the case with respect to the incidents at the Capitol steps on March 20.
Today’s American Thinker has a good piece summarizing the state of the incident. Essentially two allegations have been made; first, that Missouri Democrat Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver was spat upon, and second, that the N-word was repeatedly used by Tea Party protestors to black congressmen as they traveled up the steps of the Capitol, and specifically to Georgia Democrat John Lewis.
Cleaver’s allegation was completely disproven by video shot at the Capitol steps. He walked within inches of a protestor who, with his hands cupped, repeatedly shouted “Kill The Bill” at the congressional entourage as it ascended the steps, and caught something of a vocal spray from the protestor. A Capitol Hill police officer walking behind Cleaver did nothing at the time; had a full-on spitting incident occurred it seems obvious that Cleaver’s “assailant” would have been arrested on the spot. It’s also obvious that no sentient being would spit on a congressman with a police officer in the immediate vicinity; the charge appears ludicrous upon examination of the video evidence.
As you can see from the video, Cleaver makes a big deal out of the “spitting,” including an exaggerated wiping of his face and a staredown of the protestor in question. He then haltingly continues up the steps, looking back at the protestor. The policewoman with him is aware of the entire incident and yet does not act to arrest the protestor. Cleaver then returns shortly thereafter with a different police officer, this one a black male, and seems to be looking around for his “assailant” – and stands right next to the man without apparently recognizing him. One would imagine that had the protestor knowingly or intentionally spat on Cleaver he might have made himself scarce when the congressman returned with a policeman, but he stays exactly where he was at the beginning of the sequence.
Cleaver claimed he was spit on, then claimed the protestor “allowed his saliva to hit my face.” He also claimed an arrest was made, but that he didn’t press charges. This was also untrue, as the video evidence shows. No arrest was made.
Cleaver’s story is provably false, and laughably so.
William Douglas, a left-wing reporter of African-American extraction working for the hard-left McClatchy newspaper chain, “broke” the story of the N-word being used on Lewis. But like in the case of Cleaver’s allegation, there are multiple video clips available of Lewis’ journey to the Capitol, and in none of them is there any evidence of that epithet being audible. Lewis himself never confirmed that anyone used the N-word on him, though he’s made statements to the effect he thinks Tea Party protestors are unpleasant.
Andrew Breitbart offered $10,000 to anyone who could supply evidence that the N-word was used during the incident, then raised the reward to $100,000. No takers have yet emerged.
And yet the Left’s willing acolytes in the media turned these spurious and irresponsible statements into a full-blown narrative about the nature of the Tea Party movement. Breitbart went on the seldom-viewed Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC last week, to demands by the host that the entire Tea Party movement renounce racism:
And of course YouTube is full of propaganda like this:
The Left is heavily invested in this narrative, which is why the complete absence of any real evidence of racism at the Tea Party protest at the Capitol or pretty much anywhere else shouldn’t surprise a soul.
And it is not going to go away. In fact, don’t be surprised to see an effort to provoke as many incidents as possible in which Tea Partiers or other conservatives can be shown as racists, homophobes or otherwise bigoted troglodytes. The Left has already lost the argument to the Tea Party on government spending as a whole and on Obamacare in particular, an argument which is in part economic and empirical, and in another part constitutional. Polls indicate the American people aren’t buying what the Left is selling, which means they have to do what they do best; kill the messenger.
Discrediting the Tea Party and frightening weak Republicans into distancing themselves from the most energetic conservative activists on the scene constitutes the only strategy available to the Left at present. They can’t win on policy – on the Democrat agenda the rest of the year are Card Check, amnesty for illegal immigrants, Cap And Trade, Net Neutrality and a bank tax, none of which are issues where Democrats are in a position to command a majority of the population. They can’t win on popularity – Obama is an unpopular president and Joseph Mengele and Jeffrey Dahmer meet with more approval than Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do. So to stave off electoral defeat of monumental proportions in November, the Left must fire up its base, which they have accomplished in small part due to forcing Obamacare through Congress (whether that will actually help them by Election Day depends on how much more evidence of the bill’s deficiency emerges). It must also split the GOP off from the Tea Party crowd either by attempting to generate third-party candidates like the Harry Reid supporter running as an independent/Tea Party doppleganger in Nevada or by so scaring regular Republicans about Tea Party endorsed candidates like Marco Rubio or Chuck DeVore that the nominees emerging in contested races are so squishy and lacking in backbone as to let all the air out of the conservative movement in areas where Democrat seats are in a lot of trouble.
The standard narrative in recent American politics is that if a president finds himself in trouble, the easiest way to repair the damage is to bomb somebody. That’s unlikely to happen with this administration, so their strategy has to be a bit different; they’ll find bad guys among the political enemies of their party, if not their country.
We’ve seen the ruthlessness of the administration in subverting normal modes of operation to accomplish their ends. Few had any expectation that Obamacare would become law once Scott Brown was elected, and yet the gang in charge did it anyway. To carry their agenda forward against even stiffer opposition and to stave off destruction at the polls in November, they’ll do anything they can. And with the standard playbook for confusing the electorate having allegations of racism and bigotry on Page One, you can expect lots more of what we were subjected to last week.