Bottomless Chum Bucket

While one would certainly expect to encounter stench in the gutter discourse of the likes of Limbaugh and O’Reilly (as well as Hannity, Krauthammer, Liddy, Coulter and Malkin–to name a few), we were somewhat–but mind you only somewhat–surprised to see that George Will has stuck his arm full to the shoulder in the bottomless chum bucket that constitutes much of the conservative discussion of Cindy Sheehan’s request for a meeting with the President:

>Since her first meeting with the president, she has called him a “lying bastard,” “filth spewer,” “evil maniac,” “fuehrer” and the world’s “biggest terrorist” who is committing “blatant genocide” and “waging a nuclear war” in Iraq. Even leaving aside her not entirely persuasive contention that someone else concocted the obviously anti-Israel and inferentially anti-Semitic elements of one of her recent e-mails — elements of a sort nowadays often found woven into ferocious left-wing rhetoric — it is difficult to imagine how the dialogue would get going.

Never mind also the implication that the President of the United States is too thin-skinned to meet with someone who has called him names, or has, God forbid, expressed disatisfaction with his protean justifications for the war in Iraq. What’s interesting about Will’s remark is the claim that Sheehan is “*inferentially*” anti-Semitic apparently for (unquoted here) anti-Israel remarks. What, however, does “*inferentially* anti-Semitic” mean? Who draws the inference? On what grounds? Is the inference correctly drawn–or is it, as is more likely the case, drawn fallaciously in the service of character assassination? Anti-Semitism, a form of racism, is too serious a charge to be drawn “inferentially.”

Had Will stopped at “inferential” racism, he would only have been guilty of wallowing neck-deep in the rancid tripe of irrelevant character assassination. Whatever your position on the personal political views of Mrs. Sheehan, she continues (despite Will’s claim that she has “has already been largely erased from the national memory by new waves of media fickleness in the service of the public’s summer ennui”) to occupy the front pages of newspapers. Not to mention the fact that George Will favors her with a column in the *Washington Post*. Beyond that, he promotes her to Michael Moore:

>Do Democrats really want to embrace her variation of the Michael Moore and “Fahrenheit 9/11” school of political discourse? Evidently, yes, judging by the attendance of 12 Democratic senators at that movie’s D.C. premiere in June 2004, and by the lionizing of Moore at the Democratic Convention — the ovation, the seating of him with Jimmy Carter.

This just doesn’t make any sense. That 12 Democratic senators attended the opening of a documentary (one milder in tone, more solidly based in fact, and more cogently argued than many of the accuser’s columns) in 2004 (among other things) can have nothing to do with whether they will embrace *Sheehan’s* variation on it (which shows up in 2005–a year after 2004 by our count).

The logically and temporally impossible connection between Moore and Sheehan is only a set-up for Will’s sneering dismissal of the Democrats’ political position:

>It is showing signs of becoming an exhausted volcano. Regarding Iraq, it is mistaking truculent asperity and tiresome repetition for Churchillian wartime eloquence. Regarding domestic policy, intellectual anemia has given rise to behavioral patterns not easily distinguished from corruption, as with the energy and transportation bills. Yet the Democratic Party, which by now can hardly remember the far-distant past when it was a volcano not of molten rhetoric but of serious thought, seems preoccupied with the chafing around its neck. The chafing is caused by the leashes firmly gripped and impudently jerked by various groups such as that insist the party adopt hysteria as a policy by treating the Supreme Court nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. as a dire threat to liberty.

As is usually the case with the ever clever Will, some of these phrases have a nice lilt (however irrelevant, Churchillian [the analogy fails here–the one who should sound Churchillian is the current war leader, Mr.Bush] always sounds nice)–but they would be more interesting if they were arguments (or at least parts of arguments) rather than simply hyperbolic–and therefore likely to be false or at best (“inferentially”) misleading–*assertions*, more appropriate (therefore not appropriate at all) for “TV’s bottomless chum bucket” than the op-ed page of even of the *Washington Post*.