Hiram Lewis IV ran against Darrell McGraw, a liberal who protects people from privateers, for attorney-general and lost, but barely. He played many cards that appeal to the emotions of voters and few cards that appeal to their minds or intellect or prudence or reason or to the brotherhood of man. Now he has decided to challenge Robert C. Byrd for the senate seat that is up for grabs in 2006. He knows that the Republican Party is hot to rid Washington, if not the earth, of Byrd, who has been a thorn in the side of Bush since Bush decided to war against Iraq and then fabricated reasons that he sold to the nation and that the nation has since learned were fabricated. And he knows the likelihood is that he will receive tons of right-wing money from all fifty states—if he campaigns with gloves off.

In a Readers’ Forum letter, he begins he campaign against Byrd just as the began his campaign and ended his campaign against Darrell McGraw—with demagoguery: “West Virginians should wake up to the fact that Robert C. Byrd is an ultra-liberal who supports pro-abortion judges, opposes the troops fighting the War on Terror and who is backed by ultra-liberal groups.”

In a nation founded by liberals, and ultra-liberals, why is the word liberal an epithet? King George III would have had all the Founding Fathers, who were liberals and ultra-liberals—relative to the monarchists—hanged in a public square had he prevailed. FDR was a liberal, who saved capitalism from its exploitive excesses under McKinley, Hoover and the Robber Barons, whose policies of unbridled capitalism engendered the worst Depression in this nation’s history. Conservatives with malice aforethought have painted liberals unpatriotic. Further, the term ultra-liberal by virtue of right-wing propaganda, connotes communist, the ultra-anathema among ultra-conservatives and a political stigma among hoi polloi.

“Pro-abortion judges.” If there was ever a more provocative red rag to flaunt before the bullheaded fundamentalists and anti-abortionists it hasn’t been produced. (Proof positive is Eric Rudolph’s bombings). But the use of the term is designed to do to ultra-conservatives what a red rag does to a bull. The use of it has nothing to do with the issue of whether Robert C. Byrd should or should not be elected. It is used to inflame voters’ emotions against him. It’s pure demagoguery, a demagoguery enhanced by the recent Schiavo scramble by Tom DeLay to make political capital from the woman’s plight and the fight between her husband and her parents.

Lewis charges that Byrd “opposes the troops fighting the War on Terror.” This is deliberate and premeditated distortion and is ultra demagoguery. He knows that Byrd doesn’t oppose the troops. No politician in his right mind would oppose troops. Opposing troops is as provocative to the populace as burning Old Glory. Byrd opposed and opposes the war in Iraq, not the troops, and his opposition proved to be as well-founded as Bush’s arguments for war proved groundless. But in politics these days demagogues don’t argue issues they twist the meanings and positions of adversaries to attack them instead of arguing the issues.

Lewis suggests that “West Virginians ought to ask him why he is pandering to such ultra-liberal, anti-soldier group as MoveOn. org to help him raise money if he isn’t one himself.” The use of “anti-soldier” is again premeditated demagoguery. No liberal group or ultra-liberal group is anti-soldier. Liberals are anti-war in Iraq. And not just liberals. It appears now that more than half the country believes that Bush’s war was a mistake. And the soldiers believe it too. Recruiters are hard press to fill their quotas. A farm boy from Iowa has enough smarts to perceive that he is in Iraq because America is oil hungry and that under Iraq’s desert is an oil feast. A democracy, or any form of government, installed and dominated by the United States is likely, willy-nilly, to pipeline its oil to this nation for years to come, if Bush has his way.

Lewis accuses Byrd of “pandering,” a word that is a big gun in the arsenal of demagogues. He uses the word pander because it connotes pimping or sexual procuring and catering to the weaknesses of others. But it isn’t Byrd that is pandering. It is Lewis who is pandering. Lewis is pandering to the populace; that is, catering to its weakness and ignorance by the use of the word itself and also by the misuse or incorrect use of it. How has Byrd pandered? Byrd has simply argued against the war in Iraq on grounds that have proven to be solid and valid. And MoveOn. Org agrees with him and backs him.

Now hear this from Lewis: “MoveOn.org is the leading subversive influence in the United States when it comes to prosecuting the global War on Terror. “Subversive influence.” That is, the thousands of people that contributed to Byrd’s campaign through MoveOn. org are subversives and Byrd is also a subversive by association with them. Lewis has gone hysterical. Half this nation voted against Bush and his misadventure in Iraq. To openly oppose the policies of an administration is not subversive activity but responsible political action. To call subversives those who are in opposition to a war—hatched in back rooms by warmongers and perpetrated by them—is not only demagoguery but McCarthyism, the pits of demagoguery.

Then, Lewis reminds readers that he served in “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” an Orwellian denomination for “Operation Iraqi Oil.” Further, he indicts MoveOn.org with the crime of affecting the morale of the troops in Iraq. He was appalled by the “group’s action.” And his memory is seared with “seeing my senator, Robert Byrd, on television calling the war I was fighting in Iraq unconstitutional.” What was he fighting for if he wasn’t fighting for the right of Byrd or anyone else to freely express his opinion regarding the war in Iraq? Oil?

Senator Byrd has attacked Bush’s war in Iraq and his policies in a statesmanlike manner. He hasn’t needed to stoop to demagoguery because his constitutional, historical and rational arguments have sufficed to make a case against Bush’s Iraqi misadventure and gifts to the rich. But Lewis IV knows that to win or even to have a chance to win, he cannot be a statesman, even if he could, so he becomes an ankle biter, a dealer in demagoguery. Thus, even this early in the campaign, he has exhibited his campaign’s chief implement—demagoguery.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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