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The Unsung Sting of the Neo-Copps
© Jack Cashill
Those conservatives who have sworn off the Republican Party have not met Nick Jordan.
Jordan, a low-key but nicely coherent state senator, is challenging the Democratic incumbent, cynical crypto-liberal Dennis Moore, for Kansas’s 3rd Congressional seat.
Last week I attended a fundraiser for Jordan. It was staged on a steamy Kansas afternoon in the semi-rural town of Bucyrus. The whole event had a congenial 19th century feel about it.
There, under a tent, I heard arguably the best political speech I have heard in person and easily the most unexpected. Although Jordan gave a very good speech, his is not the one to which I refer.
That speech was given by the guest of honor, the president of the United States, George W, Bush. His talk was at turns insightful, inspirational, amusing--downright funny actually--and humble in the truest sense.
In my experience, only a person who knows his modest place in God’s great plan can express humility without trying to, and that is what I heard from Bush that over-warm afternoon.
To be sure, I have the same reservations about the president that other readers of this publication do—his softness on the borders, his unsteady grasp of the Constitution, his sometimes affection for big government.
But I suspected as much when I voted for him, and since Ronald Reagan wasn’t in the race, I have no regrets. Given the choices, I would vote for him again, both times.
What has impressed me about Bush, surprised me even, are his steadfastness and resilience. He has endured more gratuitous criticism more gracefully—too gracefully perhaps--than any public figure in memory, a further tribute to his faith.
In a well-informed survey of former Oval Office residents who weathered the fury of public criticism, Bush spent some time on Abraham Lincoln but not enough.
In fact, he missed the best potential punch line of the day when he noted that Lincoln even had one of his generals turn against him and run for president, but failed to mention that the turncoat’s name was “McClellan.”
For all his faults, McClellan, the general that is, was less intent on undermining the war effort than most of his political pals. So numerous were such Democrats and so potentially lethal that the Republicans called them “Copperheads” after the snake.
In reading Wikipedia’s artless description of the Copperheads, who “nominally favored the union” but “ strongly opposed the war” and “demanded immediate peace,” one cannot help but notice the parallels to today’s slithering Neo-Copps.
“They wanted Lincoln and the Republicans ousted from power,” Wikipedia continues, “seeing the president as a tyrant who was destroying American republican values with his despotic and arbitrary actions.”
“Some Copperheads tried to persuade Union soldiers to desert. They talked of helping Confederate prisoners of war seize their camps and escape. They sometimes met with Confederate agents and took money.”
After Lincoln’s original mission was accomplished, the Copperheads cheered on the prolonged insurgency against the occupying American Army. Leading the insurgency, of course, were the Robert Byrds of yesteryear, the “so-called terrorists” of the Ku Klux Klan.
Happily, movies had yet to be invented, so the Copperheads could not translate their sedition into celluloid—that would have to wait until Birth of a Nation--but they used all the media at their disposal.
Newspaper editor Edward G. Roddy, a proto-Frank Rich but without the awards from GLAAD, “saw black people as an inferior race and Abraham Lincoln as a despot and dunce,” the first in a long line of Republican dunces that would come to include Grant, Eisenhower, Reagan, and, of course, Bush.
Roddy “blamed abolitionists for prolonging the war and denounced the government as increasingly despotic. By 1864 he was calling for peace at any price.” On the plus side, he did not torture America with bad theater reviews.
Wisconsin editor Marcus M. Pomeroy, who would make fellow cheesehead Joe McCarthy sound like a sentimentalist, called Lincoln "fungus from the corrupt womb of bigotry and fanaticism" and a "worse tyrant and more inhuman butcher than has existed since the days of Nero.”
To be fair to the Copperheads, Lincoln did take his liberties with Constitutional law. He often had Copperhead leaders arrested and held for months in military prisons without trial, a gesture that strikes me as all the more attractive every time I see Keith Olbermann on TV.
To be fair to Lincoln, all war-time presidents jack with the Constitution. Progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson, facing far less of a domestic threat than Lincoln, had more than 170,000 US citizens arrested during World War I, in some cases for criticizing the president in their very own homes.
At Eleanor’s prodding, liberal icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 months after Peal Harbor. This led to the internment of 120,000 Japanese, nearly two-thirds of whom were innocent American citizens.
The “torturer, the tyrant, the disgrace” George Bush put his own teeny dent in the Constitution. After 3,000 innocent civilians were murdered on American soil, an enormity Wilson or Roosevelt never had to confront, he authorized the tapping of terrorist phone calls overseas, the cushy detainment of homicidal jihadists, and worst of all, the monitoring of terrorist library check-outs.
The only thing that prevents our neo-Copperhead friends from imploding in desperate paradox is their truly impressive ignorance of history.
Democrats have not behaved this badly since the Civil War.
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