Vice President Joseph R. Biden believes Tea Party Republicans are right-wing jihadists. Following the debt-ceiling deal, in a private Democratic Caucus meeting, Mr. Biden joined several Democrats in accusing conservative House Republicans of behaving like "terrorists."
"We have negotiated with terrorists," said Rep. Michael F. Doyle of Pennsylvania, according to a report in Politico citing several sources in the room. "This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money."
According to Politico, Mr. Biden responded by saying: "They have acted like terrorists." The White House has tried to walk back those statements. Mr. Biden claims he never said them. President Obama's press spokesman eventually called such inflammatory rhetoric "inappropriate." For the record: I don't believe Mr. Biden. This is a man with a long, well-documented history of mendacity, plagiarism and making irresponsible statements. He said it, and he knows he said it. Multiple sources confirmed it.
Moreover, it is part of a larger liberal pattern of smearing the Tea Party movement during the debate about raising the debt limit. It was not just Mr. Biden and Mr. Doyle who declared small-government Republicans to be the American equivalent of the Taliban or Hezbollah. MSNBC host Chris Matthews likened Tea Partyers to "terrorists" and "hostage-takers." Newsweek's Tina Brown called them "suicide bombers." In short, for the Democratic left, the Tea Party is evil incarnate.
Contrast this to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, which triggered a huge - and largely manufactured - debate about the devastating effects of incendiary rhetoric. In particular, the media and political class blamed Sarah Palin, conservative talk radio and the American right for the tragedy - especially their alleged over-the-top use of metaphors in excoriating opponents. Never mind that the act was perpetrated by a lone madman who hardly ever listened to Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh or Mrs. Palin. He was driven by pathological malice, not politics. The liberals' narrative was clear: The Tea Party was somehow to blame. Mr. Obama even urged a new "national discourse" based on "civility." That was then; this is now.
Leftist expediency now requires that the most heinous, reckless and degrading comments be used. Tea Partyers are not simply being slandered, they are being dehumanized. Ironically, it is liberals who are paving the way for potential political violence. Terrorists, hostage-takers, suicide bombers, neo-Nazis, the Christian Taliban - all of the epithets regularly thrown at Tea Party members by rabid progressives - eventually foster one overriding emotion: hatred. It is not much of a leap for some deranged Democratic activist to conclude that the only way to defeat the phantom specter of marching right-wing jihadists is to slaughter them. The Black Panthers, the Weathermen, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Unabomber - the U.S. radical left has been littered with violent movements marked by the irrational loathing of a menacing Middle America.
Yet the recent attacks on Tea Partyers are more than dangerous and hypocritical. They represent the gradual dissolution of America's social compact. We are no longer one nation, but two - liberal and conservative. Blue state versus red state; left versus right; progressivism versus traditionalism. The country is splintering along ideological lines. In some ways, it was inevitable. The 1960s unleashed powerful forces - militant feminism, anti-Americanism, pacifism and the sexual revolution. Radical leftists have ruthlessly pursued their goal to erect a multicultural social democracy. Having slowly taken over the commanding heights of popular culture, the universities, public schools, the courts, the establishment media and the mammoth federal bureaucracies and government agencies, they are on the cusp of achieving their national transformation. The Obama presidency is the culmination of the 1960s left's long march to power.
This is why Tea Party activists are so reviled by liberal Democrats: They are traditional America's last line of defense. It also is why the debt-ceiling debate was so bitter. Mr. Obama won. The president outmaneuvered House Speaker John A. Boehner at nearly every turn. Mr. Obama got exactly what he wanted. The debt limit was raised by $2.4 trillion - the largest increase in the government's borrowing authority in history. The issue will not be revisited until after the 2012 election, sparing the president another crippling debate about our skyrocketing debt and record deficits. And the deal solidifies Mr. Obama's high base-line spending levels, guaranteeing that at least another $7 trillion will be added to the national debt over the next 10 years. The much-touted spending cuts are meager and mostly illusory.
Instead of celebrating, progressives are fuming. Why? There is one reason: Tea Partyers have finally changed the public debate. The movement rightly understands that a European-style welfare state requires European-level taxation. High spending inevitably breeds high taxes. Mr. Obama realizes this as well, which is why he is determined to gorge the federal beast - relentlessly ratchet up borrowing and spending to where Americans face only two choices: Go bankrupt or become a permanent serf of Uncle Sam. Most Americans want neither. They agree with the Tea Party that spending must be slashed, the budget balanced and fiscal responsibility restored. They do not wish to become Greece.
For the first time in decades, the left is meeting broad, sustained resistance. Its socialist utopia - so close and yet so far - is slipping away, the victim of economic reality. The entitlement society is unsustainable; it is crumbling under its massive, big-government weight. For progressives, this is why Tea Partyers are "terrorists" - political insurgents who are willing to stand up to the venal, decrepit liberal regime. Yet Tea Partyers are America's freedom fighters; they are forcing the federal government to begin devolving power back to the people.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.
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