Tuesday's Wall Street Journal editorial, "Trashing Petraeus" hits it right on the head by saying that "[m]embers of the Democratic leadership and their supporters have now normalized the practice of accusing their opponents of lying."
With the exception of Joe Biden, Democrats refused to clearly renounce the MoveOn.org New York Times ad accusing General Petraues of "cooking the books," and transmuting the General's name into "General Betray Us."
The editorial gives these examples of how widespread is the new normal on the Left:
In an editorial on Sunday, the New York Times, after saying that President Bush "isn't looking for the truth, only for ways to confound the public," asserted that "General Petraeus has his own credibility problems." We read this as an elision from George Bush, the oft-accused liar on WMD and all the rest, to David Petraeus, also a liar merely for serving in the chain of command. With this editorial, the Times establishes that the party line is no longer just "Bush lied," but anyone who says anything good about Iraq or our effort there is also lying. As such, the Times enables and ratifies MoveOn.org's rhetoric as common usage for Democrats.
Late last week, for instance, we heard it said of General Petraeus that, "He's made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual." This was from Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate.
The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos, said Thursday that General Petraeus would not be the author of his report; it would be written "by Administration political operatives." He opened yesterday's hearing, moments before General Petraeus was to speak, by saying, "We cannot take anything this Administration says on Iraq at face value."....
Can this really be the new standard of political rhetoric across the Democratic Party?....
Under these new terms, public policy is no longer subject to debate, discussion and disagreement over competing views and interpretations. Instead, the opposition is reduced to the status of liar. Now the opposition is not merely wrong, but lacks legitimacy and political standing. The goal here is not to debate, but to destroy.
Sounds accurate. And this was written before the disgraceful performance of so many Congressional Democrats during Monday's and Tuesday's hearings with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.
The destroy-don't-debate goal explains why there's been nothing like meaningful discussion over policy in the war against Islamic jihad since the Democratic Party, bare months after 9/11, chose a strategy of political annihilation of a popular war-time administration over cooperation on vital matters of national security or--for that matter--on any other issue in the national interest.
For all kinds of reasons, Democrats just don't do moral indignation very well. Like everything else, they overreach, thinking that a soapbox, a furrowed brow, and self-righteous braying at a captive witness who can't respond in kind makes them look like modern-day John the Baptists, rather than insufferable Elmer Gantrys. They also can't get it through their heads that seizing the moral high ground takes more than just convincing people their opponents are liars--it also means convincing people your side is pure of that defect as well.