Historian Alan Brinkley, the provost of Columbia University, agrees that even during the height of the Cold War, scathing rhetoric that called into question the loyalty or patriotism of a presidential candidate was deemed too extreme. "This kind of rhetoric never would have come into a presidential campaign during the '50s or '60s. It would come from people widely dismissed as extremists -- people on the margin of the party who were tolerated or perhaps quietly encouraged -- but never from anyone identified as the party. Now it has migrated to the very center of the campaign."The article also competently notes that many of the claims coming out of main stream Republican Party officials, such as the Vice President or House Speaker Dennis Hastert first appeared on the Rush Limbaugh program. This has to come as a bit of a shock to those who think that Rush Limbaugh's effect on the Republican Party is minimal.
The article also discusses the reaction of our "liberal media" to these attacks.
. . . mainly the press has treated this Republican rhetoric as just another development on the campaign trail. A CNN report this week, noting that Kerry had criticized Bush for bungling the war on terror, concluded it was fair to say "both sides can now be described as trying to politically exploit the issue," as if Republicans charging that terrorists would prefer a Kerry victory were the same as Democrats critiquing Bush's foreign policy.It's a good article and well worth checking out.
The Washington Post's Sept. 24 article also stretched when trying to show balance by pointing to "questionable rhetoric" on the Democratic side equivalent to Sen. Hatch's suggestion that terrorists are working hard to elect Kerry. The Post's example? The crude sexual pun comedian Whoopi Goldberg had made at Bush's expense at a celebrity fundraiser for Kerry this summer.