With the advent of the tea party movement and President Obama's recent "shellacking," the left's long-established effort to marginalize mainstream conservative Americans as fringe extremists has reached a new stage of desperation.
For at least the past half-century, the dominant media culture has portrayed minority liberalism as mainstream and conservatives as shrill malcontents. From the time I started paying attention to politics as a young kid, liberals have been demonizing conservatives as reactionary throwback Neanderthal knuckle-dragging, warmongering extremists.
I'll never forget the "Daisy" ad from the LBJ presidential campaign, which featured a little girl picking petals from a daisy in a field as an ominous countdown from "10" led into footage of a nuclear explosion. The voice of LBJ then interceded with "These are the stakes, to make a world in which all of God's children can live or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die."
The unmistakable message was that Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater could not be trusted with his finger on the nuclear button. The ad resonated because the liberal media had already laid the foundation that conservative ideas were not just antiquated and obsolete but also dangerous.
Liberals similarly depicted Ronald Reagan as a bellicose buffoon itching to light up Moscow with his "Star Wars" nuclear toys; never mind that "Star Wars" was the left's pejorative shorthand for Reagan's proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, which was, as its title indicated, a defense system.
They also characterized Reagan's domestic policies, particularly his tax cuts, as extreme. Never would it have occurred to them that top marginal income tax rates of 90 percent were extreme, but a mere 25 percent across-the-board cut — allowing American workers to keep a bit more of what they earned — was.
The left even branded the moderate George W. Bush as a conservative extremist because of his tax cuts and his fierce resolve and firm policies in the war on terror. He got no slack from libs for his no-federal-dollars-left-behind education program, the new prescription drug entitlement or his immigration policy, among others.
These same people, mind you, sold Barack Obama — National Journal's most liberal senator of 2007, member of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church, colleague of William Ayers', committed Alinskyite, consummate street agitator — as a refined, urbane, erudite Harvard Law School graduate who would usher in a new kind of post-racial, post-partisan politics and show us the virtues and possibilities of governing through compromise and consensus.
Even two years' worth of Obama's hyper-partisanship, race-baiting, thuggish Alinskyite tactics and policy extremism has not deterred liberals from denying his (and their) extremism. Nor did the electorate's stunning repudiation of his agenda shake his or their resolve or their commitment to persist in portraying conservatives as extremists.
To this day, the liberal media largely ignore Obama's proven policy extremism and his dogmatic tactics in promoting it, from his stimulus package to reversing welfare reform to cap and trade to amnesty to swallowing up private businesses to excessive abuse of executive orders and his appointment of radical unaccountable czars to his appeasement approach on foreign policy and the war on terror to forcing Obamacare with its mandates down our collective throat.
They barely acknowledge that Obama remains immovably dedicated to his agenda, preferring to quote him resurrecting his phony gestures of bipartisanship, as in, "I believe that if we stop talking at one another and start talking with one another, we can get a lot done." Does he mean like "I don't want the folks who created the mess (the ones he consigned to the back seat) to do a lot of talking"?
We read more about the alleged extremism of Sarah Palin and the tea partyers than we do about Obama and his soundly trounced agenda. Now here are the real extremists, they say. Obama's Homeland Security Department, you will recall, suggested they were domestic terrorists. Network television and cable liberals helped foster the notion that the protesters were wild-eyed bigots just one nurse shy of serial killer Richard Speck. Democratic operative Paul Begala recently said, "The party of Palin is so far to the right it makes Newt look like Che Guevara."
Yes, tea partyers are extremists because they refuse to compromise on our national solvency or to conspire with statists in converting America into a European-style socialist nation.
In the run-up to the 2012 elections, we're going to see a growing intensity in the liberals' frantic and fraudulent effort to depict tea partyers, Sarah Palin and other real conservatives as extremists.
As this scenario inevitably plays out, we must remember that adherence to a fixed set of tried-and-true principles, otherwise known as America's founding ideals, is hardly extremism. Besides, to quote the victim of the "Daisy" ad, "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His new book, "Crimes Against Liberty," was No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction for its first two weeks. To find out more about David Limbaugh, please visit his website at www.DavidLimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.