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Treason: Horowitz v. Coulter
by Bruce Walker
10 June 2003

Analyzing David Horowitz's criticisms of Ann Coulter's new book "Treason." Horowitz attacks Coulter's book by arguing that many Democrats were not ideologically treasonous. The problem with this argument is it fails to acknowledge that the Democrats were repeatedly pragmatically treasonous.



David Horowitz has published a long critique of Ann Coulter’s blockbuster Treason. While David goes to great pains to express admiration for Ann’s work, he also makes it clear that he believes parts of Treason are wrong. The heart of his concern is that the Democrat Party is indicted as a co-conspirator in Treason.

Horowitz believes that Democrats are not recognized in Treason for the role that they played in thwarting communism, and he points out a number of important facts which someone who only read Treason would not know.

Democrat Senator “Scoop” Jackson of Washington State was as an implacable a foe of Soviet imperialism. Democrat Jeanne Kirkpatrick was an eloquent defender of American resistance to totalitarianism. Ronald Reagan was a Democrat until 1963.

That list is not exhaustive. George Meany, longtime boss of the AFL-CIO, was a steadfast enemy of Soviet machinations. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a principled liberal Democrat from New York, is responsible for Ann Coulter having the very Venona decrypts essential to exposing the depths of Soviet penetration of America.

Does this mean that the Coulter has reached a false conclusion about the role of the Democrat Party in the communist subversion of America? No. Treason does not necessarily mean ideological treason of sort now proven conclusively by Venona. Bill Clinton’s draft-dodging was because he was pragmatically treasonous. This sort of pragmatic treason infested the Democrat Party.

Scoop Jackson was a liberal from a swing state whose career was clean as a whistle and who could appeal to anti-communists. He stood a good chance of winning the presidency, if Democrats would have ever nominated him. Scoop ran for the nomination, but he never had a chance. His anti-communism - and only is anti-communism - doomed him from the beginning.

Jeanne Kirkpatrick was a Democrat, but her most famous speech echoes the language at the beginning of Treason which bothers Horowitz. What were those resonating refrains from Kirkpatrick’s 1984 speech to the Republican Convention? “But they always blame America first.” What was the context of her remarks? Reelect a Republican president.

Which Republican president? The one who began his political activities as an anti-communist in Hollywood, and who came to realize that principled anti-communism was welcome only in the Republican Party, which he joined in 1963. Joe McCarthy also began as a Democrat and then became a Republican. Anti-communists never leave the Republican Party to become Democrats, but often have abandoned the Democrat Party or, like Kirkpatrick, become apostate Democrats.

Horowitz correctly points out that the New Left in 1968 opposed Hubert Humphrey because Humphrey opposed communism and supported the Vietnam War. But this overstates the seriousness of the anti-communism of LBJ and Hubert Humphrey. It also presumes a symmetry between the two political parties which simply did not exist.

The two national party conventions in 1968 approached the Vietnam War from dramatically different positions. Humphrey - Vice President and heir apparent, the party’s leading champion of civil rights, darling of the AFL-CIO, and universally recognized as a good and decent man - faced a passionate and ferocious attack for his anti-communism.

The New Left did not attack racial bigots within the Democrat Party like J. William Fullbright or Albert Gore Sr. These illiberal Democrats were anti-anti-communists who opposed the Vietnam War. That alone made them heroes, just as Humphrey’s support for the war alone made him a villain.

Richard Nixon began his political career as an anti-communist, but many delegates at the Republican Convention in 1968 worried that he was not anti-communist enough. When Barry Goldwater, the most passionate and radical anti-communist in modern American politics, stepped before the Republican Convention, the delegates burst into thunderous applause.

Ronald Reagan, who would win the Cold War, had only held elective office for only two years. He had only been a Republican three years. But Republican delegates seriously considered nominating him as the logical successor to Barry Goldwater.

The New Left did not even bother to show up at the Republican Convention. While the SDS and its crypto-Marxist siblings carried great clout among Democrats, these pro-communist groups had no support at all among Republicans.

The pragmatic treason of Democrats is well illustrated by LBJ during the 1968 presidential campaign. While America fought a totalitarian communist enemy, President Johnson announced, a few days before the November election, that he was unilaterally suspending bombing operations against North Vietnam.

The motivation was simple: swing the increasingly close election to Hubert Humphrey by creating an the impression that peace was at hand. Who paid the price for that political pragmatism? America and the South Vietnamese, who were deprived of critically important air power.

Was 1968 the pivotal year in how Democrats approached communism? No. Although David is correct that much of the communists infestation of the federal government was rooted out by the time Truman left office, Truman did not begin in earnest until 1947. Truman had been president for two years - why did the housecleaning begin in 1947? Republicans in 1946 won Congress in a huge landslide. Truman pragmatically decided that anti-anti-communism was a political liability.

But Truman continued to defend people later shown to be communists and to attack anti-communists. Truman, as Ann notes, opposed Churchill giving his famous Iron Curtain speech in Missouri. Truman famously sacked MacArthur for trying to win the Korean War, rather than simply produce a stalemate.

Eisenhower directed his Attorney General to go on television and announce that President Truman had promoted to the leadership of the International Monetary Fund an individual known to be a communist. Why? Eisenhower was hardly a rabid anti-communist, but he also understood that Harry Truman had taken the easy course regarding communism in America.

And, of course, the problem of communism in America did not go away simply because the greatest actual traitors - Hiss, White, and the rest - left the most sensitive posts in the federal government.

The Soviet Union funneled funds into the anti-war movement in America. Communists and communist sympathizers within Hollywood and academia continued to warp American opinions and policies. Would the SDS, Ramparts and the other entities so reflexively supportive of communism have been able to bedevil Hubert Humphrey in 1968 without support from communists in America and without help from Moscow?

If Democrats were not particularly keen on anti-communism before 1968, their attitude after 1968 was profoundly anti-anti-communist. George McGovern favored unilateral disarmament. Jimmy Carter did not discover that the Soviet Union was bad until the last year or his presidency. Clinton, visited Moscow during the Vietnam War and stated his loathing for the military during that war against communism.

Perhaps the clearest indiction of how Democrats have felt about communism is the tepid, almost annoyed, attitude Democrats take toward President Reagan’s bloodless victory in the Cold War. This is in sharp contrast to how Republicans have acted under Democrat presidents when America faced enemies. Republicans supported FDR in the Second World War, JFK in the Cuban Missile Crisis and - unlike his fellow Democrats - Republicans supported LBJ in the Vietnam War.

The single real example of Democrats being tough on communism was John Kennedy. It is revealing that Chris Matthews asked three times if Ann Coulter felt JFK was a traitor. She denies that he was, then adds that his heart was in the right place, but that is not enough for Matthews. It is not his repetitive questions that seem to trouble David; it is her answers.

JFK was strongly anti-communist and he did resist Soviet aggression. The critique that Ann Coulter makes has less to do with JFK’s intentions than with his general incompetence at achieving those goals and with his essentially immoral and dishonest personal life.

Senator McCarthy was presumably censured for bad behavior, when that was clearly not the reason. What is the best evidence of Democrat hypocrisy on the real reasons for destroying McCarthy? John Kennedy - faithless husband, drug addict, pal of crime bosses, vote stealer...and the list seems to grow each year - was made a martyr, when he was actually simply a victim.

McCarthy was an actual martyr, denied even the dignity of a victim. He stood up to the elites of Washington, Hollywood and New York, aware that his enemies were both powerful and unscrupulous. Horowitz notes that McCarthy was right on almost everything. McCarthy certainly acted no worse than several thousand other congressional committee chairmen, except that McCarthy fought a real dragon. Does that not deserve some honor, even posthumously?

The Kennedy Klan looks increasingly less benign as times passes. Bobby Kennedy (aka St. Bobby) grew so hostile to anti-communism that by 1968 he was the principal focus of those very anti-anti-communist efforts intended to keep Hubert Humphrey from winning the Democrat nomination. Ted Kennedy never pretended to be anti-communist, and he formed a core of resistance to Ronald Reagan’s plan to win the Cold War.

Were Democrats all traitors - ideologically or pragmatically - during the long decades of struggle with communism? No, of course not. But was there a profound and fundamental difference in the courage and tenacity that America’s two major political parties displayed in our long battle with the evil empire? Yes, of course there was.

Perhaps the lexicon of the New Left is helpful. During the 1960s, those timid souls who feared the real power of communism called themselves “non-communist” as opposed to “anti-communist”or “communist.” In the war against communism, Republicans were “anti-traitors” and Soviet agents in America were “traitors.” What then were the Democrats? How about calling most leading Democrats “non-traitors”?


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