Thursday, October 14, 2010


The headline for a New York Times story about the Christine O'Donnell/Chris Coons debate is "O'Donnell Calls Coons a Marxist During Debate":

... As she did throughout the first half of the debate, Ms. O'Donnell quickly tried to return the focus to Mr. Coons, saying, "I would argue there are more people who support my Catholic faith than his Marxist belief."

Mr. Coons responded that the source of her charge -- an article he wrote as a student -- was "a joke" that his Republican friends at the time conceived when he registered as a Democrat....

Here's her statement, from the L.A. Times transcript. O'Donnell has been trying to evade a question on evolution (I'll ignore the fact that her opposition to evolution is inconsistent with Catholic teachings):

O'DONNELL: ...But, please allow me at least the full minute to respond to what he said because he said these statements that we made should be taken into consideration when casting your vote. So then I would be remiss not to bring up the fact that my opponent has recently said that it was studying under a Marxist professor that made him become a Democrat. So when you look at his position on things like raising taxes, which is one of the tenets of Marxism; not supporting eliminating death tax, which is a tenet of Marxism -- I would argue that there are more people who support my Catholic faith than his Marxist beliefs, and I'm using his own words.

Look, I know: the wonky Chris Coons, who seems like Eliot Spitzer without the anger or the sex drive, is the last guy who's going to rebut this kind of nonsense the way it should be rebutted. But this is some of the poison that's killing our political culture, and no one will attack it head on. "Raising taxes, which is one of the tenets of Marxism"? "Not supporting eliminating death tax, which is a tenet of Marxism"? Probably one in every five Americans, at a minimum, would listen to that and nod in agreement, and another 40 or 50 percent would think it might be true but certainly seemed within the realm of plausibility. And that's dangerous.

Yes, Coons should have said, as he did, that he was referring to himself facetiously when he said a college trip to Kenya turned him into, in his friends' eyes, "a bearded Marxist." But he should also have said:

Ms. O'Donnell, this is a McCarthyite attack. It's the kind of attack that's very common among you and your friends in the conservative movement and the tea party. You can't accept that we have some disagreements on tax rates or the role of government -- you have to accuse anyone who disagrees with you of being disloyal to this country and of not having this country's best interests at heart.

And excuse me, Miss O'Donnell -- the capital gains tax is
Marxist? We've had a capital gains tax in this country for nearly a century, under Republican presidents and Congresses as well as Democratic presidents and Congresses. Republicans as well as Democrats have sometimes felt the need to raise taxes as well as lower them. Are you calling all of these leaders Marxist? Ronald Reagan raised some taxes. Was he a Marxist? Was Franklin Delano Roosevelt a Marxist? Was George Bush the father, who was shot down fighting for this country in World War II, and who raised taxes -- was he a Marxist? Were these people disloyal to America? Were they trying to destroy this country because the tax rates they presided over were higher than the ones you support? Was Eisenhower's use of taxes to pay for the interstate highway system Marxist? Are Medicare and Social Security Marxist? Were those who fought for those benefits being disloyal to this country?

I just want to know how far you think the disloyalty goes. I'm just one candidate, and you're free to smear me all you want. But you and your movement spend a lot of time smearing everyone in this country who sees things differently from the way you do, and that is outrageous.

This isn't Alan Grayson-style I'm-not-the-Antichrist-you're-the-Antichrist hyperbole. This would be somber, measured righteous indignation. It's something we never get from a Democrat. And this country is in peril the longer we go on without a single politician who'll say something like this.

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