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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [March 15, 2007]






[]  Conservatives and progressives (as liberals now like to be called) suffer from power envy. They will say or do anything, even subvert their own principles, to attain power.

Consider Arnold Schwarzenegger. He promised to halt California's big-spending. He did give it an honest try. Propositions 74 to 77 would have crippled California's big-government lobbies. Progressives panicked, spouting their usual hyperboles about the end of civilization.

After Arnold's propositions lost, he switched sides, endorsing 2006's budget-buster bonds to fund a progressive wish list. But did progressives praise him for flip-flopping over to their side? No, that's no way to win elections.

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Instead, the folks at Air America radio attacked Arnold for the "hypocrisy" of his reckless spending. (Talk about pots calling a kettle black!) Of course, Air America broadcasters have long condemned Bush for his big-spending, without crediting him for an extravagant prescription drug plan -- surely a bigger step toward socialized medicine than anything Clinton ever achieved.

Clearly, progressives aren't upset with Republicans' reckless spending. Rather, they're furious that they aren't the ones doing it. Power envy indeed.

Progressives are no better on privacy and civil liberties. They slam Bush for using 9/11 to push the Patriot Act, but few progressives attacked Clinton for using Oklahoma City to push the 1995 Omnibus Counterterrorism Act, easily as bad as the Patriot Act. Nor did progressives protest the FBI's profiling of NRA members. Few progressives care about the rights of mostly white, middle-aged gun owners.

Shame on conservatives who fail to defend Arabs and Muslims' civil rights; you'd think after Janet Reno, conservatives had learned a lesson. Yet even progressives demonize Arabs for political advantage. One Air America broadcaster appealed to racism when attacking Bush for his Dubai ports deal. She'd said the United Arab Emirates "injected" (her word) several 9/11 hijackers into America. That's like saying Africa "injected" OJ into America.

The hijackers were individual criminals, not government agents. Their nationality is irrelevant. Similarly, University of Texas professor Robert Jensen criticized Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 for using racist imagery for political gain. I've also heard Air America broadcasters demonizing Saudi Arabians, a necessary corollary to condemning Bush's "Saudi ties."

I don't think Ann Coulter is homophobic, but I do think she calculatingly woos homophobes in order to sell books and get face time on TV to feed her narcissism (her only real principle). I also don't think most progressives are racist, but I think some do drop anti-Arab remarks, hoping to entice undecided voters and "serve the greater good" of electing Democrats. ("See, you can trust us with power. We bash Arabs too. Just not the ones that Republicans bash." Similar to: "I support the war, just not how Republicans are fighting it.")

That the Iraq War was based on lies and ulterior motives is comprehensively documented. (See Neoconned and Neoconned Again.) Opposing the war is moral and patriotic. Yet I sense that many progressives are less opposed to the war, than they oppose Republicans benefiting from the war.  Progressives were mostly mute during Clinton's wars.

Some years previous (I think on a Sunday morning), I heard an Air America broadcaster favorably compare Clinton's Balkan War to Bush's Iraq War: "At least Clinton was smart enough to bring in allies." Okay, but how is this a progressive argument? Progressives are supposed to favor peace and civilian safety, not smarter warriors. And why do I suspect that, had Clinton fought alone, and Bush brought in NATO, that same broadcaster would have said: "At least Clinton had the guts to go it alone.  Bush is like a playground bully who's afraid to fight without his whole gang behind him."

Progressives don't so much oppose war-making and reckless spending, as they envy the power to do so. They aren't so much upset at Bush and Giuliani appropriating 9/11 and its attendant political capital as the fact that they didn't appropriate it for themselves. Call it 9/11 envy. Progressives are like Ann Coulter, whose main gripe with the 9/11 widows may well be that she isn't one of them.

Both Republicans and Democrats support imperialism, socialism, and unconstitutional civil rights violations. Their only dispute is over who gets to wield the power.

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