The Labours of Desperation

If the American left sinks as low in voters’ esteem as the British Labour Party has, September 10, 2007 may be remembered as the good old days of political discourse.

For those who have already forgotten that high water mark, that was the day that the New York Times published the ad titled, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”

American liberals often follow the example of their European brethren, and you really need to get a taste of the kind of vicious lies, backbiting, ad hominem assaults, and unwarranted character assassination to which left-liberals so often resort when they fear they’re in danger of losing an election. How do I know?  

Because this is exactly what is happening in Britain right now.  And in 2012, it may be the model your Democrats follow.

The story so far: after twelve years of incompetence, lies, and misrule – first under Prime Minister Tony Blair, subsequently under Gordon Brown — Britain’s socialist New Labour government is collapsing. It is now so universally reviled that even if tomorrow it  
discovered the cure for cancer, learned how to create eternal peace, and handed out one million pounds in cash to every citizen on the condition that it was spent on pure fun, not even then would this crumbling, discredited regime stand a snowball’s chance in hell of re-election.

Hence the Gordon Brown administration’s Plan B: a smear campaign orchestrated by one of the Prime Minister’s senior advisors — Damian McBride, otherwise known (for reasons which will shortly become clear) as Damian McPoison.

McPoison sent out to party apparatchiks an email (direct from the Prime Minister’s HQ, though of course the PM is denying all knowledge) suggesting a series of lies that might fruitfully be disseminated on New Labour’s websites in order to blacken the name of the Conservative opposition (and government-in-waiting).  To wit:

•      David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader, may have picked up a sexually transmitted disease while at university.

•       George Osborne, the Conservatives’ shadow Chancellor — i.e., future Treasury Secretary — may well be pictured in incriminating photos with his face blacked up and wearing nothing but bra and suspenders.

•      A married female Tory MP had an affair with one of her colleagues at a conference and accidentally left behind a sex toy at her hotel.

•      A gay Tory MP is abusing his position to offer free publicity to a company run by his boyfriend.

These (totally made-up) suggestions were received with jubilation ("absolutely totally brilliant, Damian") by another of New Labour’s disgusting spin-doctors, Derek Draper, who was probably planning to use them on his new government propaganda website Red Rag. (A sort of New Labour answer to Der Sturmer). Unfortunately for him, his emails  
were exposed by a political blogger named Guido Fawkes.

As a result, Damian McPoison has now been sacked; and the Prime Minister is trying his damnedest to distance himself from Derek Draper, despite the fact that in November last year he entertained him to Sunday lunch at his official country residence to discuss Draper’s role in New Labour’s online strategy.

But apart from its grotesque comedy value, why is this story of relevance to US Conservative readers? Simple. Because Britain’s political present is America’s political future. As I argue inWelcome To Obamaland: I’ve Seen Your Future And It Doesn’t Work, Barack Obama’s presidency will follow exactly the same trajectory as that of Britain under the socialist administrations of Tony Blair (and Gordon Brown): from hope to despair, from apparent freshness and competence to weariness and waste, from a state of liberty to a state of servitude.

When in four — or eight — years time the Obama administration runs out of plausible excuses for the mess it has made of America, it will inevitably resort to a Gordon-Brown-style Plan B: smear the opposition.

What? You think it couldn’t happen in administration run by people as lovely Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and that king of gentleness and moderation Rahm Emmanuel? Well here’s another reason why it surely will: because smearing is what left-liberals do. Like the scorpion in the fable who stings the frog which is ferrying it across the river they just can’t help themselves. It’s in their DNA.

There are several reasons for this, the most obvious one being that the facts are against them. In a straight political debate between a liberal and conservative, a conservative will always win because conservatism is the philosophy of pragmatism, empiricism, logic and rigorous honesty: the world as it actually is rather than as some starry-eyed dreamer with crazed ideas about fairness and equality thinks it ought to be.

Confronted with the unassailable logic of a conservative’s arguments, a liberal must invariably resort to more devious counter-measures: suggesting, for example, that his opponent is so morally compromised and repellant that his arguments are simply not worth entertaining.

This is why when Conservatives want to talk about, say, immigration they are dismissed by liberals as racists; why, when they want to express doubt about Al Gore’s and James Hansen’s big man-made global warming fantasy they are accused of hating nature or being in the pay of big oil; why, when they want their taxes lowered (knowing that it will boost the economy and help EVERYBODY) they are accused of being greedy and self-centered.

Instead of dealing with the argument, in other words, liberals seek to close it down as quickly as they can with ad hominem insults. As we say in Britain, liberals prefer to play the man, not the ball. It’s the only way they can win.

But don’t Conservatives indulge in such skullduggery too? Well sure, we’re not completely guiltless on this score. But as a general rule we don’t, partly because we don’t need to — when you’ve got truth on your side, after all, who needs lies? — and partly because it’s not in our nature.

This isn’t to say that we conservatives think of ourselves as being morally superior (we don’t: that’s a game left-liberals play, not conservatives), just that we don’t view left-liberals with anywhere near the same contempt as they view us. It’s the left-liberals’ ideas we find stupid and disgusting and wrong, not the people who hold them (who we just think are a bit sad and misguided).

This is one of the essential differences between us. Liberals find it impossible to separate someone’s personality from their politics. Conservatives are wise and generous enough not to confuse the sinner with the sin.

But that’s no excuse for being surprised when it happens.  I’ve seen your political future, and it looks like a food fight to me.