Via Kevin Drum and Unfogged comes one of the wackiest blog posts I've ever read. The author, Charmaine Yoest, a conservative apparatchik now at the University of Virginia, accuses the left of insinuating that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts is gay. What's the evidence for that very serious charge? A blog post on "Manhattan Offender" (whatever that is), a joke on Wonkette, and a New York Times article that Ann Althouse thinks is intended to suggest that Roberts is gay. The alleged problems with the Times story: it mentions that Roberts played Peppermint Patty in a Charlie Brown play at his all-male boarding schools, shows a series of pictures of him among men (shockingly enough, people who attend all-male schools are frequently photographed among men), mentions the fact that he married in his 40s, and includes a picture of him as a teenager in plaid plants.
That is a ridiculously flimsy basis for suggesting a leftist conspiracy. But Powerline, the ugly id of blog conservatism, pounced on Yoest's post, exaggerating it even further:
[Democrats] are hinting that John Roberts is a homosexual because he was once photographed--more than thirty years ago--wearing plaid pants. You think I'm making this up? Charmaine Yoest has the story. If you think that's contemptible, consider this: some on the Left have also suggested that Roberts' four year old son is "gay."
Throughout American history, until now, there have been limits. There have been depths beneath which Americans would not sink for the sake of partisan advantage. Even during the Civil War, when the Democrats were fighting to preserve slavery, limits were observed. Now, all civility is gone. There is no depth to which some Democrats will not sink. Hold your nose. Things are only going to get worse. With MoveOn and the Daily Dose dominating Democratic politics, all constraints are gone.
Who needs evidence when you can make up a conspiracy against you? In the Kabuki theater of 21st century politics, everyone wants to cobble together an offensive attack against them so they can denounce their enemies and portray themselves as victims. It's the same approach Republicans used when they claimed that several blocked judicial nominees were the victims of anti-Hispanic and anti-Catholic bias (a claim that may be revived during the Roberts nomination fight).
And how ignorant are the people at Powerline about politics? The idea of a mythical age of political civility is nonsense. Here are the limits observed before the Civil War:
His opponents countered by making fun of Lincoln's limited experience as a statesman and his "slang-whanging stump speaker" style, which they said reflected a limited intellect that would be an embarrassment to the nation should he be elected President. The Charleston Mercury ridiculed his looks, depicting him as a "horrid looking wretch . . ." unfit for office. Cartoons showed Lincoln dancing with black women and championing "amalgamation" and "miscegenation" (mixing of the races). One widely distributed picture showed Lincoln steering a ship with a thick-lipped black man embracing a young white girl sitting at his feet on deck. Other pictures were much cruder and even more blatantly racist, of a type never before so prevalent in a national election. One secessionist in Georgia warned that Lincoln planned to force the inter-marriage of black and white children, and that within "ten years or less our children will be the slaves of Negroes."
Yes, as Drum mentions, this is Time's 2004 blog of the year. We are losing our minds.