Since last year, I've been cataloguing the increasing number of Democrats and liberals who have attacked dissent against President Obama as seditious or aiding Al Qaeda. From Time columnist Joe Klein to Salon editor Joan Walsh, Obama supporters have embraced the tactic that Republicans used against them so successfully in the years after 9/11.
Still, the attacks on dissent that we've seen had been relatively low profile. Last week, however, a gaffe by RNC chair Michael Steele brought the ugly rhetoric to a new level of prominence. After Steele criticized the war in Afghanistan, falsely calling it a war of "Obama's choosing," DNC spokesperson Brad Woodhouse issued a statement suggesting Steele is "rooting for failure" and "undermin[ing] the morale of our troops":
RNC CHAIRMAN MICHAEL STEELE BETS AGAINST OUR TROOPS, ROOTS FOR FAILURE
"Here goes Michael Steele setting policy for the GOP again. The likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham will be interested to hear that the Republican Party position is that we should walk away from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban without finishing the job. They'd also be interested to hear that the Chairman of the Republican Party thinks we have no business in Afghanistan notwithstanding the fact that we are there because we were attacked by terrorists on 9-11.
"And, the American people will be interested to hear that the leader of the Republican Party thinks recent events related to the war are 'comical' and that he is betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan. It's simply unconscionable that Michael Steele would undermine the morale of our troops when what they need is our support and encouragement. Michael Steele would do well to remember that we are not in Afghanistan by our own choosing, that we were attacked and that his words have consequences."
These are the precise claims that were made about Democrats after 9/11. By issuing this statement, the DNC is embracing a very ugly style of politics. To their credit, Greg Sargent, Glenn Greenwald, E.J. Dionne, and Adam Serwer have all repudiated the DNC rhetoric, but it deserves far wider condemnation.