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What if Bush gave this speech?

Posted by Richard on June 9, 2005

I’ve been thinking about an "alternate-universe" post where I take a bunch of things Howard Dean has said lately, recast them a bit (right becomes left, etc.), put them in some Republican’s mouth, and then ask what the reaction would be.

Great minds think alike, I guess. Dale Franks at QandO points out that Peggy Noonan has already done this:

[L]et’s do a thought experiment. Close your eyes and imagine this.

President Bush is introduced at a great gathering in Topeka, Kan. It is the evening of June 9, 2005. Ruffles and flourishes, "Hail to the Chief," hearty applause from a packed ballroom. Mr. Bush walks to the podium and delivers the following address.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I want to speak this evening about how I see the political landscape. Let me jump right in. The struggle between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is a struggle between good and evil—and we’re the good. I hate Democrats. Let’s face it, they have never made an honest living in their lives. Who are they, really, but people who are intent on abusing power, destroying the United States Senate and undermining our Constitution? They have no shame.

But why would they? They have never been acquainted with the truth. You ever been to a Democratic fundraiser? They all look the same. They all behave the same. They have a dictatorship, and suffer from zeal so extreme they think they have a direct line to heaven. But what would you expect when you have a far left extremist base? We cannot afford more of their leadership. I call on you to help me defeat them!"

Imagine Mr. Bush saying those things, and the crowd roaring with lusty delight. Imagine John McCain saying them for that matter, or any other likely Republican candidate for president, or Ken Mehlman, the head of the Republican National Committee.

Can you imagine them talking this way? Me neither. Because they wouldn’t.

Of course, the purple phrases are Howard Dean’s and the green ones are Hillary Clinton’s, with the appropriate (left/right, Dem/Rep) substitutions.

Noonan says Republicans wouldn’t talk that way because they’d realize it’s extreme, damaging to the country, and unworthy of a leader. Maybe. Bush, at least, wouldn’t do it because he’s a genuinely nice guy about such things — compare what he said about the Clintons at their White House portrait unveilings or at the Presidential Library opening with what Sen. Clinton said about him at a New York fundraiser this week. I don’t think all, or even most, high-level Republicans are either genuinely nice guys or too noble and high-minded to indulge in name-calling.

But there’s a more fundamental reason why no Republican in his or her right mind would ever indulge in the name-calling that’s routine for Dean, Reid, Clinton, and others: they’d be toast!

If a Republican leader said that Democrats all looked alike and thought alike, never did an honest day’s work, lied all the time, and were evil people intent on destroying the country, can you imagine the media firestorm? Remember, the mainstream media accused the Republicans of practicing "the politics of personal destruction" for suggesting that Kerry had a liberal Senate voting record.

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