The Dogs of War

The Senator from Searchlight (what did he lose and when did he lose it?), Harry Reid, referred to Vice President Dick Cheney the other day as the President’s attack dog.  Which, incidentally, is perfectly legitimate political discourse, if a tad on the combative side.

But while we are on the subject of canine similes applied to views and behaviors in governmental matters, I must say that I have had it up to here with one such adjective.  In her recent dust-up with the feisty neighbor who has the big Giuliani ’08 sign on his lawn, the wife of former-Senator former-Presidential-primary-candidate former-Vice-Presidential-candidate current Presidential-primary-candidate John Edwards described him as a “rabid, rabid Republican”.  Rabid presumably implying that holding positions in line with the Republican platform is worthy only of a rabid dog.
The fact is that Madame Edwards is guilty only of bringing the cachet of quasi-prominence to this expression.  I get it everywhere I go, delivered in casual terms as if it is not the least offensive.  “Oh, you write for Human Events and The American Spectator?  You must be a rabid Republican.”  As if these two words go naturally together, like pregnant pause, rude awakening or common sense.  It’s hard to imagine something more rude and inappropriate to be employed in what is supposed to be a debate between two good-faith well-intentioned approaches.  And for a wannabe First Lady to speak like this about an ordinary hard-working citizen?  Obscene.

Permit me to say in the name of Republicans everywhere: we are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore.  Let’s take a minute to compare some Republican and Democrat planks and see if either of them are eligible for this “nomenclatural tin can on the tail”, to borrow O. Henry’s phrase in Memoirs of a Yellow Dog.

Most Republicans are passionately pro-life.  This includes a belief that the Constitution protects the life of an unborn child; or if not, it certainly does not presumptively cede that responsibility to individual women.  The States have the right to legislate against it, and once Roe v. Wade is overturned and they get that right restored, Republicans will line up with those fighting to legislate against unnecessary abortions.  Those who disagree with the pro-life movement say it poses an unfair burden upon women.  

So one side will inconvenience a woman to save an infant and the other will let the infant die for the woman’s convenience.  If one must be labeled “rabid”, should it be the one causing hassles or the one causing deaths?

Most Republicans favor less taxation and regulation by government on individuals.  They believe that citizens can be trusted in large part to make the right decisions both for their own prosperity and for dispensing philanthropy for others.  Those who reject this view believe the government must necessarily intrude upon and invade private arenas of life in order to take money from those who earn it but do not need it to give to those who need it but do not earn it.  Statistics regularly show that Republicans give more personal charity than Democrats.

If I was pressed to identify one of these views as “rabid”, I don’t see how the low-tax view could possibly qualify.  Even if it could be argued the poor would be helped less under this system, there is no kind of rabid predation occurring.  The Democrats who do not trust the income producers to do the right thing and who harass them for being successful seem more suited to some predatory adjective.

In fact, the only time a typically Republican perspective leaves an individual feeling like he has been attacked by a rabid dog is when initiatives of a military or police nature are undertaken against terrorists or other criminals.  If Elizabeth Edwards means to say her neighbor is rabid because he would go after an al-Qaeda member with a machine gun if he could, then perhaps she is right.  That is the sort of bone a Republican will sink his teeth into and gnaw until it is ground into powder.  If that is “rabid”, if that strikes fear into the heart of Democrats everywhere, what hope do we have as a country?  

If you ask me, it is not the place of a First Lady type to issue blanket derision of fifty percent of the American electorate.  Democrats believe differently than Republicans, fine.  Speak to your strengths, address the issue, stick to substance.  If she plays the role of attack dog, she opens herself up to hear unpleasant canine epithets.