The Victimhood Shakedown

To regain the presidency, the left has tailored its sales pitches to a single overarching theme. Whether one observes the candidates in the debates, listens to cable news personalities (who simultaneously attack talk radio for being in need of fairness doctrine restrictions while refusing themselves to air honest contrary views from the right) or loyal members of the party faithful, most of the posturing emanates from one simple formulation: Either (i) I show you how you are being victimized by an unfair world and ask for your vote so that I can save you or (ii) I show you how I am being victimized and ask for your vote to save me so that I can go on to do my work of saving you. The semantics embody the charge of victimization coupled with the promise of a savior.

The Democratic debate at Howard University was a competition to see which candidate could best describe new and different ways in which the audience had been victimized. From the tax code, the medical, insurance, and drug industries, the military industrial complex, any industry which may injure the environment, to “racially insensitive” authorities, aids epidemics and uncontrollable hurricanes, the candidates ceaselessly focus the audience on the “unfair” treatment it receives in every area of life. The more a candidate can cleverly articulate new ways to make a voter feel victimized, the more likely the voter will presume that candidate can best save him from the victimization.

Similarly, these candidates occasionally take a break from the tiresome job of pretending to be future saviors to enjoy a little bit of victimization themselves. The claim of “swiftboating” has re-emerged as the Democratic call to arms for this election. The fact that the actual swiftboaters stand by their story (which has never been disproved) is washed away as the Clintons and others leapfrog reason and deploy the term to avoid having to answer difficult questions themselves. “I will not be swiftboated” will be well-worn by election time, as candidates cry out that they are being victimized by an untrue attack. In so doing, an appeal is made to the voter to save the candidate and help the candidate survive the attack so he can then save the voter. Irrespective of one’s view of Ann Coulter, this is precisely the victim status the Edwardses adopted in distorting completely out of context Ms. Coulter’s recent statements. As a result, many Democrats rushed to help save their victimized candidate from a wrongly fabricated attack.

How many times have we seen the almost unanimous (non-Fox) television voices generate, promote, and support these same victimization storylines? Stories seem to require victimhood as the rationale for otherwise inexplicable behavior. Terror attacks? Must be because Muslims have been insulted or occupied or oppressed. Is amnesty proper? Of course, as illegals only break the law because we victimize them. Thank goodness there are so many candidates around who will insure that Muslims and illegals are no longer so mistreated.

Tales are now invented solely for the purpose of supporting a victimizing story. The reality of the Islamic threat is so disabling to the American psyche that we accept almost any coherent storyline that subliminally gives us the feeling that the threat is controllable. Unable to cope with 9/11? Must be a Bush conspiracy and therefore reparable by eliminating Bush. Iraq war pushing your patience to its limits? It is not that we have no choice but to fight this long war. Rather, this struggle would not exist (and subliminally, we would no longer have a problem) if we weren’t “lied” into it by Bush. Don’t hate me, Mr. Islamist, it was Bush! My candidate will straighten out this misunderstanding.

This foolishness now extends to the conspiracy theory of how Valerie Plame, and by extension all of us, have been victimized by the administration’s effort to punish her and cover it up. Cable figure Keith Olbermann calls for Bush and Cheney to resign over the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence. He charges the administration with lies upon lies, but the only verifiable lies are those that Olbermann himself tells, including the historical rewrites that the Iraq war was sold on the basis of an Iraq-9/11 connection and that Bush/Cheney knew there were no WMD. He, like his NBC cohort Chris Matthews (and now Hillary Clinton and others), invents with no evidence whatsoever the story that the administration had something to cover up and employed Libby to do it.

Matthews further resurrects Bill Clinton, the Uber-victim, claiming he received a sentence much worse than Libby’s. He argues impeachment without removal or resignation was a terrible penalty for obvious and essentially admitted perjury. In reality, Libby left his position. His alleged perjury was not self-evident; it was an issue of memory about which honest people can differ.

Matthews never raises for discussion how another cohort, Andrea Mitchell, had apparently originally stated that Plame was known to be a covert operative. Nor does he mention that, contrary to Plame’s testimony under oath that she never recommended her husband for the Niger trip, emails of hers recently disclosed by the Senate intelligence committee suggest the opposite. Nor does one ever hear about how a fourth NBC cohort, Tim Russert, may have originally told the FBI a very different story from the one he finally came to “remember” to be the truth. Nor do we hear how those notes may somehow be missing. And the conspiracy lies where?

Instead, the only person who is not claiming victimhood is Libby. He is a man of too much class to do so. Of course, Olbermann and Matthews would insist that his failure to cry victim is a result of his confidence in a commutation or pardon; it is further evidence of how we are all being victimized by Bush. Thank goodness again we have this wonderful group of news whatever-they-should-be-calleds to protect our right to savor victimhood status. Should one of these Democratic candidates win by selling the nation on our victimhood, however, will we still need Olbermann and Matthews and the rest of them?