TYRRELL: Bill the Tea Party basher

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Not so long ago, there arose on the American political scene something called the “angry left.” It was an indignant group of ritualistic liberals whose appearance, the mainstream media apprised us, augured well for Democratic victory in 2008, and so it did. The angry left turned out the vote for the Prophet Obama. At the time, do you recall any public figure on the right stepping forward and warning against possible violence from the indignados of the angry left? Did, say, the Honorable Newt Gingrich step forward at a conservative forum, say the Heritage Foundation, and remind his fellow Americans of the bombings of government buildings, the burning of university libraries, the robbing of banks by angry leftists in years gone by? I cannot recall any such warnings from any conservative eminence.

It is not as though such lawlessness is unknown in American history. Politically motivated bombings, burnings and bank robberies actually have been committed in America by leftists. Some of those leftists are still with us - for instance, Bill Ayers and his wife, BernardineDohrn, who were fugitives from justice for such antics and went on to become friends of the present president of the United States. In fact, lawlessness on the left is still being committed, for instance, at universities where speakers who offend the left - the angry left or simply the “fastidious left” - are regularly shouted down or barred from scheduled appearances, as Ann Coulter recently was, at least, in Canada. Yet Mr. Gingrich has remained mum about the danger posed by the angry left, and it is not easy for Mr. Gingrich to remain mum.

Now, just the other day, ex-President Bill Clinton - some of us still call him “the Groper” - rose up at the Center for American Progress and drew parallels between the Tea Partiers (call them the caffeinated right) and the homicidal maniacs who participated in the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 persons and injuring hundreds more. Mr. Clinton’s charge was typically duplicitous. “This Tea Party movement can be a healthy thing if they’re making us justify every penny of taxes we raised and every dollar of public money we spend,” Mr. Clinton opined. “But when you get mad, sometimes you wind up producing exactly the reverse result of what you say you are for,” said the president famous for, among other things, his temper tantrums. He also said, “Before the [Oklahoma] bombing occurred, there was a sort of fever in America,” which I guess depends on the meaning of the word “fever.” I recall no fever, but then I was not impeached for lying and obstruction of justice.

A long-standing conceit of American liberals has been to lecture conservatives on how to conduct themselves. They are famous for telling us what we can and cannot say. They tell us we cannot call them socialists even when they take over industries and transform the federal budget into a simulacrum of European social democracy. Yet they can call us racists and enemies of the poor when we advance alternatives to such failed policies as affirmative action or welfare. In fact, much of the liberals’ stance toward conservatives in our ongoing dialogue with them is an insult. The most recent politician to dabble in race-baiting was not a conservative, but Bill Clinton, in the 2008 Democratic primaries.

What Mr. Clinton depicts as a precursor to more bombings modeled on the vile Oklahoma City bombing is nothing more than a civic upheaval inspired by American constitutional liberties. The Tea Partiers are no cause for alarm. For Mr. Clinton to suggest that these generally peaceful and good-natured libertarians are opening the door to domestic terror is Mr. Clinton at his reckless worst. In doing so, he has given would-be bombers cover for their evil acts. If more bombings of federal buildings follow, we can thank Mr. Clinton for his speech of encouragement. Ironically, federal investigators looking for the perpetrators might begin their investigations with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. No Tea Partier I know has their record of violence.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator. His new book is “After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery” (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

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