Ms. Dowd instructs me to begin by grasping the notion that extremists of the right help the Republican party, whereas extremists of the left hurt the Democratic party. Thus, even though she thinks nevertheless that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs should resign, Ms. Dowd holds that he was absolutely right when he derogated "the professional left."
Gibbs never did define exactly what it is that makes a liberal-leaning citizen part of "the professional left." Ms. Dowd helpfully tells us that it's "extremism."
Thanks to her, I offer this revised list of illustrations of political extremism:
On the Right
(Helpful to Republicans)
(Helpful to Republicans)
Believe that God speaks directly to politicians, instructing them to, say, rid Nevada of the Socialist evils of Harry Reid so that Social Security can be entrusted to the love and care of stockbrokers and investment bankers.
Consider Warren Harding to be an ideal whom his successors as president should emulate.
Still believe there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- somewhere.
Demand that the federal government recognize individual liberties by giving millions of poor Americans the right to die without having to squander precious time in hospital or doctors' waiting rooms.
Oppose "judges who legislate" but not those who rewrite the First, Second, Fifth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.
Believe that Barack Obama is at once a socialist and a fascist and hence capable of voodoo to make pigs fly; was born in Kenya and never naturalized, hence is ineligible to be president; is a Whitey-hating racist who wants the New Black Panthers to take over Congress and give what's left in the U.S. treasury to ACORN; hates America and "real" Americans, who are mainly white, fat, gun-toting "patriots."
Want to make doctors stop killing Grandmas on orders of federal bureaucrats, while at the same time advocating sharp reductions in Grandma's Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits in order to pay down a deficit that's the Democrats' fault even though most of it was run up by George W. Bush.
Think it's just fine for corporations to have the same rights as people, including using their enormous profits to buy control of government, because business, after all, is what made America great.
Believe in freedom of religion except for Muslims, Buddhists, Rastafarians, atheists, agnostics, and other non-Christians; are particularly incensed at the idea of allowing followers of Islam to rent a former Burlington Coat Factory in lower Manhattan because it would be a sacrilege against holy ground.
Believe that unless you were born in America, as they were, you shouldn't be a citizen, except, of course, if you were born in America to a brown-skinned Mexican mother who speaks a funny language.
Think all those millions of Americans drawing unemployment benefits should just go out and get a job and stop whining.
The personification of these and other right-wing extreme notions that help the Republicans include (but are not limited to) Michelle Bachman, Rush Limbaugh, Rand Paul, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, any Christian evangelist with a TV show, Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and that greatest of American presidents, the late Herbert Hoover.
On the Left
(Harmful to Democrats)
(Harmful to Democrats)
Believe that Franklin D. Roosevelt was a pretty damned good president whose social initiatives actually helped American workers -- back when there were American workers.
Preach the dangerous notion that all human beings are entitled to necessary health care regardless of their race, creed or financial condition.
Believe that Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and those other silk-stocking dudes really meant it when the very first amendment they wrote to the Constitution established a wall of separation between church and state. Some really extreme radical Democrats actually think they meant what they wrote in the other articles and amendments, as well.
Wiftily insist that among the Republican presidents, Abraham Lincoln might be a better model than Warren Harding.
Cling to the obsolete notion that a candidate who pays tribute to "the rule of law" might actually enforce a few as president.
Propound the communist idea that legitimate governments subsist by taxing their citizens to pay for the rights and services citizens are entitled to.
Actually proclaim the cockeyed notion that peace is better than war, and that money spent on munitions to kill other human beings might be better spent improving the lives of the human beings who live right here in the United States.
The personification of these and other left-wing extreme notions include (but are not limited to) Dennis Kuchinich, Russ Feingold, Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges, Frank Rich, James Earl Carter -- and me.
Sorry, Maureen. I'm just not educable.