Sunday, July 13, 2008

The new ballgame

Have you noticed how pretty much nothing remains of left field? The New York Times this morning has a piece about how "far leftists" are abandoning Senator Obama's campaign, yet it never tells us what defines the "far left."

The photo that accompanies the story seems to imply that two young twenty-somethings are far leftists. It's a terrible photo--off kilter with some guy's out-of-focus stomach protruding from the right, but I guess the photographer felt the need to keep his distance in case the leftists were to do something radical. They don't look particularly dangerous though. It's true that one is wearing some kind of message buttons, though we can't make out what they say, and the other has on a green shirt, which is ominous, but otherwise they just look like a couple middle class college kids.

The story's only example of a political belief embraced by the far left is an opposition to warrantless domestic spying. When I was a young'un, the far left wanted to nationalize industry, collectivize the farms and further the cause of international Communism. If opposition to warrantless domestic spying now defines the far left, then everyone in the United States except J. Edgar Hoover was a crazy radical before the second attack on the World Trade Center.

But as many note, we live in a post second-attack-on-the-World Trade Center-world. Americans now share a broad consensus that the police should be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want (as long as it's someone else). Anyone who believes in politically incorrect parts of the constitution such as the First or Fourth Amendments is obviously a far leftist. The constitution, you see, is what the party in power says it is, at least as long as far leftists are not in power.

It's not until the end of the article that we get any other hint of what actually defines a far leftist.

Ms. Shade, the Green-turned-Democrat-returned-Green voter, spoke about Mr. Obama while leaning out her second-floor apartment window, where she has placed homemade signs urging the impeachment of President Bush. Others say “Free Gaza” and “Occupation is Terrorism.” She said twice that the American political system was “rotten.”

Not exactly nationalized industry or collective farms, but with a little analysis the definition of a far leftist begins to take shape.

The word green is the first giveaway. Green is the new Red. Then the fact that the woman has homemade signs. Any decent American would contribute to the economy (even if it's China's) by purchasing their signs. And off course anyone advocating the impeachment of Bush is a far leftist. That's practically the same thought crime as reading the constitution. And anything that remotely smacks of opposition to government-approved military conquest is marks one indelibly as a far leftist.

But while all of those thought crimes might conceivably be excused as legitimate policy difference or the idealism of youth, I suspect the girl's gravest crime, and that of the other far leftists, is the forbidden thought that the American political system is rotten. She didn't just say it once. As the reporter for the NY Times emphasized, she said it twice! That's out there, man. Out in left field.