Dear FoxNews.com Readers:
My friends, I hope you are enjoying the final days of summer and are ready for what promises to be the most exciting political season of our lifetime. I have spent the last part of my summer traveling across this great country of ours promoting my new book “Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate.”
The best part of the experience has been meeting and talking with thoughtful people alarmed about the troubled state of our national political discourse. This makes all of the hotels and jet lag and back-to-back, marathon interviews worth the while.
I did not plan to have my book come out at a time when the country is desperately lacking an honest debate about our economic destiny. Friday’s numbers on job creation reinforce the fact that the nation needs to focus on job creation. But politicians in Washington are busy fighting over the timing for a Presidential address on jobs. They are far from honest debate that leads to solutions and ideas that produce jobs.
Everyday’s headlines bring fresh new examples of the kind of poison that I argue is eroding our ability to solve big problems like the economy.
Following the debt ceiling resolution, the Tea Party is once again setting the terms for the political debate in the media and in the halls of Congress. I have been critical of many of the Tea Party’s solutions to the problems facing our country. I do not, for instance, believe we can reduce the deficit without raising some of the taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
Yet, I believe the Tea Party is mostly made up of honest, well-meaning citizens who are rightly concerned about profligate government spending and an unsustainable national debt. I share those concerns and I will always respect and defend their right to free speech and free expression. I have even more respect for their cause when I see them unfairly maligned by the mainstream media.
Lately I have noticed the Democrats ratcheting up their rhetoric against the Tea Party.
Congressman Andre Carson, (D-Ind.), spoke at an event sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus that "Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens" Carson said. "Some of them in Congress right now with this tea party movement would love to see you and me... hanging on a tree."
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, (D-Calif.), declared last week at another CBC event that the “Tea Party can go straight to Hell!”
The Chairman of the Caucus, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri gave us perhaps the most colorful quote of the debt ceiling debate when he declared the final compromise to be a “sugar coated Satan sandwich.” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi added that included “a side of Satan fries.”
Freshman Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, recently told her constituents "The real enemy is the Tea Party –- let's remember that," adding "The Tea Party holds Congress hostage…they have one goal in mind, and that's to make President Obama a one-term president."
Illinois Democrat Congressman Luis Gutierrez -- someone whose leadership on the immigration issue I have admired and praised in print – even compared the Tea Party to arsonists. “The Tea Partiers and the GOP have made their slash and burn lunacy clear, and while I do not love this compromise, my vote is a hose to stop the burning. The arsonists must be stopped," Gutierrez said in a statement last month.
Even soft-spoken members like Congressman Mike Doyle, (D-Penn.), have taken to bashing the Tea Party. "We have negotiated with terrorists," an angry Doyle reportedly told a closed-door meeting of the Democratic caucus. "This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money."
Of course, two wrongs do not make a right and we cannot as Bill O’Reilly often reminds us “justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior.”
But how can President Obama and the Democrats credibly attack the irresponsible rhetoric of Republicans like Rick Perry when such venom is being spewed from their own ranks? Is what these Democrats said really any better than Perry calling Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke “treasonous” and saying they would “treat him pretty ugly in Texas?”
Could it be that the Democrats are taking advantage of the growing unpopularity of the Tea Party? A new Associate Press/Gfk poll out this week found that a record 46% of Americans view the Tea Party negatively while only 28% have a favorable view.
The irony here is that by taking this kind of strident approach and engaging in these kind of ad hominem attacks, the House Democrats may actually be helping the Tea Party. They are allowing them to claim victim status while their ideas escape serious scrutiny. Their critics in Congress have done the public discourse a great disservice in these last dog days of summer. They may not have realized it yet but they have also done themselves a disservice as well.
Juan Williams is a writer, author and Fox News political analyst. His next book is "Muzzled: The Assault On Honest Debate" (Crown/Random House) which was released in July.