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The Leftwing Circus Comes to Town

By Dennis Byrne

The YearlyKos presidential forum here in Chicago did such a wonderful job of spotlighting the extreme elements of the Democratic Party that conservatives should hope that they make it a monthly, even weekly, event.

Consider: It really takes something to make Hilary Clinton look good, but the leftwing bloggers who partake of the poisonous rhetoric that flows on the Daily Kos web site pulled it off. Of course, making Clinton look good isn't saying much when you're sharing the debating stage with the other Democratic candidates, there to kowtow to their base.

When Clinton spoke the truth at the forum about lobbying practices in Washington, the crowd roundly booed her. Asked about taking campaign money from lobbyists, she pointed out that lobbyists "represent real Americans. They actually do. They represent nurses, they represent, you know, social workers. They represent--yes they represent corporations that employ a lot of people."

See, right there she stepped in it, not just on the lobbying thing, but acknowledging what the lefties don't want to hear: Corporations, for all their faults, do something good; they give people jobs.

Amid the boos, she might have added--if she could had been heard--that people make their livings representing them too. There are abortion industry lobbyists, twisting arms for "a woman's right to choose." Other lobbyists are prowling the halls of Congress on behalf 12 million illegal aliens yearning (we're told) for citizenship, universal health care, global (un)warming, family farmers, teachers--I could go on forever listing lobbyists who are excused or ignored by the left because they are doing it for "good causes."

John Edwards, one of the blogapalooza's favorites, thought he issued a stunning rebuke to Clinton by asking a rhetorical question of the crowd: "How many people in this room have a Washington lobbyist working for you?" If there were any seniors there, they could have responded: "AARP!" which is one of Washington's most powerful lobbies.

Yes, and how could I forget organized labor--from unions representing government workers who lobby for even bigger government and more jobs, to teachers, who have shackled public education with their job protections and lush retirement benefits, and don't forget the auto workers whose benefits have so weakened the American auto industry that, for the first time, more foreign cars are being sold in America than domestic ones. Organized labor's lobbyists are funded by workers who are forced to join unions to have a job and who automatically have money taken from their dues for political causes.

Clinton discovered what conservatives long have known: talking to lefties is like trying to talk to children. Rational argument and facts don't impress. That's why Clinton has been taken to task for her very sensible response to Sen. Barack Obama's idiotic promise that as president he would quickly meet with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korea's Kim Jong-Il. Clinton correctly asked why she should lend the prestige of the presidency to these people who, incidentally, would not have tolerated the existence of any challenges to their authority, like a Kos-fest, unless, of course, Kos bloggers agreed with their policies.

Then there was Obama's promise to go after Osama bin Laden, even if he had to violate the sovereignty of a non-belligerent nation--Pakistan--by launching a military strike against it. Clinton again sought to respond with reason, regarding Obama's promise as dangerous and naïve.

Even more stunning than the hooting from true believers over Clinton's suggestion that foreign affairs was not all that simple was the analysis Sunday by Doris Kerns Goodwin, the historian, on NBC News' "Meet the Press." Of Obama's threats against Pakistan, she said: "Well, I think Mr. Obama understands that his great strength is to project new directions, new ideas, a different way of dealing with domestic and foreign policy we've seen , not only in the Bush administration, but perhaps in the Clinton administration."

Wait. Isn't that why the Koskooks hate Bush? Didn't he take the nation into a war against a sovereign nation? Aren't they on Bush's back because he did so, supposedly without consultation with (read: approval from) the "world community?" Did no one catch the irony that Obama's promise of a new direction is almost the same as Bush's direction? Note that Obama's statement included the qualification that he would strike where there is "actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets," which is something Bush claimed he had before attacking Iraq. Are they all so blinded by their hatred of Bush that they can't think straight?

A footnote: Speaking of special interest lobbying, it turns out that Obama is taking money from more than liberal special interests, like those I mentioned. Columnist Greg Hinz reported in Monday's Crain's Chicago Business (subscription required) that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama's donations from hedge funds and the private-equity business in this first half of 2007 came to $652,000. This is the guy who brought the Koskooks to their feet cheering when he told them, "They [lobbyists] are not spending that just because they are contributing to the pubic interest."

Dennis Byrne is a Chicago Tribune op-ed columnist.

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