If the 2012 election is run on the issues, the GOP will win in a landslide. The Left’s strategy for avoiding this outcome is to create as many distractions as possible. We saw it first with the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party poses a serious threat to liberalism. It is the most authentic grass-roots political movement of the last half-century, and its emphasis on limited government, fiscal responsibility and individual freedom resonates with most Americans. The last thing the Left wants to do is debate limited government and fiscal responsibility, so instead it resorted to demonization, with the absurd claim that the Tea Party is racist. False though it was, the smear campaign probably influenced some unsophisticated voters.
Now the Republican presidential race is taking shape, and again voters are hearing themes that appeal to most Americans; not only that, they are seeing candidates who, in most cases, know how to make sense without a teleprompter. That will never do. So, once again, the Left is resorting to distraction–anything to make the news cycle focus on something other than the message of the Republican candidates.
We saw it in the Florida debate on September 12, when a moderator asked Ron Paul whether “we” should let people without health insurance die. The question was a dumb one, and Paul answered it well: “we,” meaning religious and other private groups, not the government, should aid such people. In the meantime, however, three people in the auience–by my count–yelled “Yeah.” In all likelihood, the reaction by those three was the same as Paul’s; that is, they objected to the identification of “we” with the federal government. But news sources, as I wrote here, headlined “Debate crowd cheers letting uninsured die.”
It happened again at the Orlando debate on September 22. A man introduced himself as a gay soldier, and someone in the audience booed. It sounded to me like there may have been as many as two people booing, but Ann Althouse is convinced that there was only one. Someone who was there describes what happened:
I was at the debate, in the audience on the right hand side about halfway back…. The person who booed was just a few rows in front of us. The booing got an immediate and angry reaction from nearly everyone sitting around him, who hissed and shushed at him. Lots of loud gasps, “Shhhh!” “No!” “Shut up, you idiot!” etc.
The media, of course, won’t let the facts get in the way. Thus, The Hill writes that when the soldier identified himself as gay, “The Orlando crowd began booing.”
What is almost as bad, I think, is the weak reaction from the Republican candidates themselves. To my knowledge, each one who has been asked about the incident has been caught flat-footed and has reacted defensively. Thus, the Hill headlines, “GOP candidates seek distance from booing of gay soldier at debate.” Republicans need to push back hard against this distraction tactic. On a near-constant basis, Democratic Congressmen blurt out outrages far worse than those attributed to anonymous citizens who attend GOP debates, yet the newspapers will never try to make those absurdities the dominant narrative of the Democratic Party. Republicans need to call the Left’s tactic out for what it is–a disgraceful effort to smear the Republican Party and to distract voters from the key issues of the 2012 campaign.