Sac Bee’s cheap shot at McClintock and conservatives

Nov. 19, 2012 By Steven Greenhut: The Sacramento Bee’s lead editorial today lavished praise on one of California’s most destructive politicians in a generation, U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, the Sacramento-area Republican who lost his seat to Democrat Ami Bera. Bera is a lightweight leftist, but Lungren was a rigid, law-and-order “conservative” — an advocate for three strikes, police unions, gun restrictions and, most horribly, civil forfeiture laws that undermine civil liberties by marrying police powers to the profit motive. Odd that the supposedly liberal Bee could find nothing bad to say about him, although it’s no surprise that the newspaper favors Republicans who advocate big government and are, better yet, are losers.

Buried within its editorial, however, is this cheap shot against U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock and against conservatives in general: “Lungren had considered challenging Rep. Tom McClintock, the career politician who was elected in a new district that includes Lake Tahoe and Yosemite many miles from his Elk Grove home. People who consider themselves to be conservatives are attracked to McClintock’s rigid politics.”

Where to begin?

First, the “career politician” label is as cheap as it gets. The clever writers on the edit page know that conservatives often rail against career politicians and McClintock has indeed made a career out of politics. But so has Lungren. So has the steady stream of Democratic pols that the Bee prefers. It’s just such a clunky put-down, though.

It’s even clunkier to write, “People who consider themselves to be conservative …” That’s kind of weird, actually. I read many of the Bee’s edits and can’t recall the writers there ever referring to people who consider themselves to be liberal. Obviously, conservatives aren’t even smart enough to know whether they are actually conservative. They can only consider themselves to be that way. And then the comment about rigidity is a childish put-down, the equivalent of the Washington Post writer who in the 1980s argued that evangelicals are poorly educated and easily led. Conservatives, or at least those who think they are conservatives, are so rigid they like politicians such as McClintock.

They aren’t flexible free thinkers such as the Bee edit writers who love Lungren in part because he isn’t too “self-important and thin-skinned” to “return a phone call.” And because he was Republican always willing to buck those darn Tea Partiers and do things like lobby for billions of dollars for the region.

In my experience, the pols that people who claim to be liberals like (Darrell Steinberg, John Perez, etc.) are even more rigid than McClintock. They consistently pursue bigger government. Jerry Brown, despite his flexible rhetoric, has been amazingly rigid in his quest for higher taxes. I’ve never heard the Bee refer to them as rigid. Lungren was one of the most rigid police-state Republicans I’ve ever seen. Check out McClintock’s ratings in those conservative and liberal interest-group scorecards — he’s a consistent (rigid if you are rigidly liberal) libertarian, which means that he is one of the few California pols who doesn’t receive 100 or 0 ratings.

The edit writers finished their 10-paragraph goodbye editorial by praising Lungren’s sense of honor. I’ll take their word on it, but few politicians — honorable or otherwise — have done more to undermine the freedoms and civil liberties we all enjoy. Then again, I’m probably just being too rigid.


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