When we last left Paul Begala, former employee of the Clinton White House and now a co-host of the MSNBC show "Equal Time," he was accusing some of those who voted for George Bush of being murderous, bigoted Neanderthals who apparently need to be forcibly educated by enlightened folks such as himself.
For those not familiar with Begala’s latest incendiary rhetoric, here is a portion:
Tens of millions of good people in Middle America voted Republican. But if you look closely at that map you see a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart — it’s red. (The state carried Bush.) You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay — it’s red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees — it’s red. The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they’re all red too.
There you have it. The Angry White Christian Male who most likely helped push George Bush in the White House actually yearns to commit murder and mayhem. Begala wrote these words, not some yahoo impersonating a journalist. However, now we find that Begala is really a victim of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
In his latest ranting, Begala writes, "I’d like to report a mugging." Who was attacked? It was Begala himself. While he admitted to writing the offending piece, he said that he really didn’t mean to say that Texans are murderers, Oklahomans are mad bombers, and citizens of Wyoming want to crucify homosexuals. As he declares, "Any fair-minded person who read my column would have seen that."
Being a reader of his column, and thinking myself to be fair minded, I can only conclude that Begala is engaging in the worst kind of sophistry. When one writes something as inflammatory as what Begala put into words, even if it is just part of an article, nothing else can make up for it. However, being that he says he is just pointing out some things that occurred in the states that went for Bush, perhaps I can turn the tables regarding the Gore states. Let me begin.
You see the state where O.J. Simpson hacked his ex-wife and a friend to death and was acquitted not for lack of evidence, but because his jury was nearly all black and tacitly approved of his actions, that state is blue (Gore’s color). If you look at the map, you see two states where innocent people were falsely accused by the police of conducting horrid sex rings with children and where people spent years in prison for crimes they did not commit, it’s blue.
The city that has been dubbed the "murder capital of the world," color it blue; the state where Limerick Nelson stabbed a rabbinical student to death in view of many witnesses and was clearly identified in court as the murderer, but then acquitted by an all-black jury which then left the courthouse en masse and partied all night at the home of the defense attorney, it’s blue as well. That state also sent Hillary Clinton to the US Senate.
There is also the state where young hoodlums rampaged through the streets in protest of capitalism, smashing shop windows, overturning private automobiles, and creating havoc, color it blue. The state with the nation’s third-largest city, one where for years a corrupt political machine disenfranchised voters, color that state blue. Then there is the state where voters have passed a law that permits doctors to violate their Hippocratic Oath and kill their patients, another "blue" mark.
My point is not that all Californians or New Yorkers are evil, but rather that one can easily extend Begala’s logic to demonize the states that voted a majority for Al Gore. Did all of these things happen in states that voted for Gore? Absolutely. Are these atrocities a reflection of their votes for Gore? That is much harder to say, but I think the link is tenuous.
However, Begala’s claim that he is a victim of a right-wing conspiracy is pathetic at best and devious at worst. His purpose was not — as he claims — to point out the complexities of modern political life. Instead, Begala sought to smear Bush voters.
On the other hand, the recount of votes cast by Floridians led to the discovery that a number of felons had illegally voted — with most of the votes going for Gore. Does this tell us something about Al Gore? Again, probably not, but had felons voted en masse for Bush, no doubt Begala would be trumpeting that fact. It seems that Gore also received most of the votes cast by drug addicted street people in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Does this mean that Gore wants everyone to panhandle on city streets and smoke crack cocaine?
Like his boss Bill Clinton, Begala turns himself into a victim of the evil vast right-wing conspiracy. Even though his words are execrable, he feigns anger and surprise when someone challenges what he has written. How dare they! How dare they, indeed.
William L. Anderson, Ph.D., is assistant professor of economics at North Greenville College in Tigerville, South Carolina. He is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.