I hope that you’ll forgive that I didn’t just put this in your comments. I don’t hold you responsible for them (much as I wouldn’t want to be held responsible for everything in our comments), but your commenters scare me.
I really think that you’re off-base here. There are times when the arguments made by virtually any partisan can be shown to be parallel to the rhetoric of some unsavory character. It’s not hard to squint your eyes and find parallels between the rhetoric of Michael Moore, Howard Dean or Ted Barlow and Osama Bin Ladin. Similarly, it wouldn’t be hard to quote Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, or Tom Maguire and find a somewhat similar argument that had been made by David Duke, Timothy McVeigh or… you know. The guy we’re not supposed to mention. (You may remember that during the 90s, Republican congressmen had a habit of making arguments that were similar to the rhetoric of Slobodan Milosevic.)
But so what? There’s simply no way to defend yourself against this, short of just shutting up. There’s no plausible way to make a case against a war without opening yourself to the possibility that the enemy will ever use a similar argument. (Any patriotic rhetoric will be simply excised by an attacking pundit.) There’s no way to oppose social spending without exposing yourself to a comparison some modern-day Scrooge. There’s no way to oppose affirmative action without exposing yourself to comparisons to racists. You don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of this sort of playground logic, so why take such pains to excuse it when the shoe is on the other foot?
People who make the kinds of statements that Chris Matthews made aren’t really making an argument. Rather, they’re just trying to get a little bit of tar onto the partisan they’re criticising. There’s no principle that they’re trying to establish. It’s just a show of contempt.
And it really does little good to bat your eyes and say that the good fella didn’t mean anything by it. You’ve found an angle at which Chris Matthews’ statement can be literally defended. Good for you. Now read your comments and trackbacks. At your blog, one of the most reasonable right-of-center blogs around, your readers have spent the day lamenting what they imagine to be an alliance between al-Qaeda and the American left. They understand the message.