- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pity the poor Democrats. Five years of George W. Bush in office have driven them to distraction. Their most audible advocates have developed “Mad Mule Malady.” The symptoms are identical to “Foot-in-Mouth Disease,” and those running for office under the Democratic banner this year are likely to find their colleagues’ increasingly vicious verbal gaffes both memorable and damaging.

The onset of their illness could not be more instructive. As leading Democrats attack Republicans, al Qaeda plans to attack America. That is what we are told by Osama bin Laden, who, in an authenticated audio tape, threatens new terrorist attacks against the United States and our citizens.

Once again, in the most important issue of our time — the defeat of radical Islamic jihadists — Democrats prove irrelevant.

This week, Hizzoner Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans, used a Martin Luther King Day celebration to urge that the Big Easy be rebuilt as a “Chocolate City.” Not to be outdone by a mere mayor’s blatant racism, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, chose a King event sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton to liken the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives to a “plantation.” Her foray into race baiting followed the outburst of her friend and aging entertainer Harry Belafonte who, on a recent visit to Venezuela, described President Bush as “the world’s greatest terrorist.”

These strange statements might have topped the week were it not for former Vice President Al Gore, who used a speech in Washington to declare President Bush has placed “our Constitution… at risk,” by directing the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor overseas communications with suspected terrorist operatives in the United States.

Mr. Gore, in a long speech to the “transpartisan” Liberty Coalition on Martin Luther King Day, told the audience Mr. Bush was engaging in “a gross and excessive power grab” and “has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.”

The former vice president, apparently forgetting his own running-mate’s record, said, “A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government.” And just to make sure everyone got the point, he claimed, “The disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution.”

Forget for a moment that the person making these charges once claimed to have invented the Internet. Disregard his 1997 assertion he and his wife, Tipper, were models for the main characters in Erich Segal’s 1970 romance novel “Love Story” — a claim Mr. Segal later discounted. Set aside that Mr. Gore told a Teamster’s conference in September 2000 that among “the lullabies I heard as child,” was one with the words, “Look for the union label” — though the lyrics weren’t written until 1975, for an International Ladies Garment Workers Union ad campaign — when Mr. Gore was 27. Ignore Mr. Gore’s March 3, 1997, artful denial calls to contributors from his government office violated federal campaign rules: “There is no controlling legal authority that says this was in violation of law.”

Mr. Gore’s vainglorious fabrications only emphasize his hypocrisy. He, after all, said of the scandal-tainted administration in which he served: “I think the ethical standards established in this White House have been the highest in the history of the White House.”

But the most recent assault on the commander in chief, like those of many other members of his party in recent months, place us at risk in the midst of a war. As such, they are far more serious than the spiteful, mean-spirited racial taunts of Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Nagin.

Though all three politicians’ rants were undoubtedly uttered for partisan purposes — the former vice president’s accusations of criminal behavior against Mr. Bush threaten serious damage. It’s a pattern of speech increasingly prevalent in the Democratic Party, potentially destructive to the morale of our Armed Forces and inherently dangerous for the American people.

Late last year, Sen. Richard “Dick” Durbin, Illinois Democrat, likened the actions of U.S. military personnel to those of Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Cambodia’s Pol Pot. Just a few weeks ago, Rep. John Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars said “no” when asked if he would serve today. He went on to discourage others from enlisting in our all-volunteer Armed Forces.

Now, Al Gore has all but accused the commander in chief of violating the civil liberties of the American people he has sworn to protect and defend against a brutal, bloodthirsty enemy.

These are not mere “misstatements” in the midst of heated political debate and dissent. The “foot-in-mouth disease” so prevalent in Washington today may prove terminal if the voters perceive Democrats want to win the next election so badly they are willing to lose the war we are fighting now.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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