- The Washington Times - Friday, April 23, 2010

Liberals are portraying the Tea Party movement as fostering violence and sedition. During a recent appearance on NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show,” Time columnist Joe Klein said that much of the heated political rhetoric, “especially the [statements] coming from people like Glenn Beck and to a certain extent Sarah Palin, rub right up close to being seditious.”

Of course, sedition is a crime. It is the revolt or inciting of revolt against the authority of the government. Mr. Klein’s message was clear: Conservative critics of President Obama are committing treason, especially the Tea Partiers who express their disapproval through rallies and protests.

Not to be outdone, former President Bill Clinton seized on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing to compare Tea Party participants to potential Timothy McVeighs.

“Have at it, go fight, go do whatever you want,” Mr. Clinton said in a speech. “You don’t have to be nice; you can be harsh. But you’ve got to be very careful not to advocate violence or cross the line.”

In an Op-Ed column in the New York Times, he wrote: “There is a big difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government.”

The comments from Mr. Klein and Mr. Clinton are disconnected from reality. The men are either ignoramuses or cheap propagandists, deliberately smearing Tea Party activists. The Tea Party movement has been peaceful and law-abiding. It is a public manifestation of anger at Mr. Obama’s unprecedented expansion of government power. This legal, nonviolent freedom of association is as American as mom and apple pie.

The charges against Tea Partiers are not only false, but brazenly hypocritical. During the presidency of George W. Bush, the left’s mantra was “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Apparently, that only applies when a Republican occupies the White House.

Moreover, the antiwar left engaged in hateful vitriol that makes Tea Party rallies seem like Sunday picnics. Mr. Bush routinely was compared to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. He was denounced as a war criminal. Code Pink protesters held up signs urging that Mr. Bush be shot. He was slandered regularly as a liar, imperialist and fascist. The left’s narrative was that the Republican Party had erected a right-wing military junta: “Bush-Cheney-Hitler-Halliburton” was the antiwar movement’s cry. “Bush lied, people died,” was another slogan. It was not conservatives, but Bush-bashing progressives who espoused incendiary, violent rhetoric.

Mr. Klein and Mr. Clinton were silent when Hollywood demonized Mr. Bush - for example, in Michael Moore’s despicable and patently mendacious film, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” They were silent when former Vice President Al Gore claimed Mr. Bush had “betrayed this country.”

The Democrats and their media allies have sought to discredit and delegitimize the surging Tea Party movement.

They have tried to portray it as a group of malcontent racists, extremists, homophobes, white supremacists and old people secretly nostalgic for the days of Jim Crow. This failed. Hence, the new line of attack is to suggest that tea partiers are Timothy McVeigh sympathizers: gun-rights nuts and anti-government jihadists plotting to violently overthrow the Obama administration. The race card has been replaced by the violence card.

The attacks on Tea Partiers are a sign of desperation. They are the wild and furious blows of a corrupt, sclerotic liberal regime tottering on the verge of collapse. Mr. Obama’s radical socialist agenda has become deeply unpopular. A majority of Americans believe his statist policies have failed.

Yet Obamaism is more than an attempt to impose big-government liberalism on an unwilling populace. It is a form of liberal fascism that threatens to permanently sever America from its traditional, constitutionalist roots.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, fascism and Marxism are not ideological opposites; rather, they are evil political twins, each representing a variant of socialism. Instead of championing the international proletariat and working- class revolution, fascism emphasizes the primacy of economic collectivism and race. It is anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic. It embraces racial-identity politics and the corporatist state. It is based on perpetual revolution, singling out an entire class of society as primitive reactionaries that stand in the way of national progress and social modernization.

Most important, it believes in the leadership principle - the Fuhrer model: the notion that a charismatic, messianic leader embodies the highest aspirations and collective will of the masses. Opposition to the leader is akin to treason - in Mr. Klein’s lingo, “sedition.”

For the past 15 months, Mr. Obama has embarked America upon a national socialist project. He has de facto nationalized the big banks, the financial sector, the health care system, the automakers and college-student loans. He now hungers to have the economy under federal control through cap-and-trade. His policies are establishing a form of corporatism: the alliance of big business and big labor under the regimentation of big government.

Abroad, Mr. Obama openly embraces socialist dictators such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro (who praised Obamacare as a “great” achievement). He is seeking to forge a partnership with communist China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. He is the most anti-Israel president in U.S. history, pulling America’s support away from the Jewish state.

At home, his supporters are intent on erecting a cult of personality, decrying opposition to Mr. Obama as racially motivated and illegitimate. The liberal media is obsessed with skin color and the number of whites, blacks and Hispanics at Tea Party rallies. The politics of race has become the ideological lens of the pro-Obama left: they see it everywhere, projecting it upon critics to vilify them.

Opposition to socialism, skyrocketing debt and runaway government spending is not treasonous or racist. It’s rational, common-sense patriotism. Attempts to demonize the Tea Party result only in further undermining Mr. Obama’s credibility and standing with the American people.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank. He is the daily host of “The Kuhner Show” on WTNT 570-AM (www. talk570.com) from noon until 3 p.m.