Solely because I found it entertaining, Dave Weigel at Slate on “The Freedom to Call People ‘Terrorists‘”:
The founders are as venerated now as they’ve ever been, but for reasons that elude me, they’re remembered in a way-too-sanitized way. The founders were slashing, petty, mean slingers of insults. They spent far more time drafting angry letters and editorials than they did drafting the Constitution. They called each other bastards and octoroons. Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton because he’d heard that Hamilton insulted him at a dinner. And so on.
I bring this up to discuss the stupid outrage over this reported exchange between Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., and Joe Biden, during yesterday’s come-to-Satan budget pow-wow.
“We have negotiated with terrorists,” an angry Doyle said, according to sources in the room. “This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.”
Biden, driven by his Democratic allies’ misgivings about the debt-limit deal, responded: “They have acted like terrorists.”
You know what? Stop whining. All (maybe) Biden and (definitely) other Democrats here did was lean on a cliche. The cliche is: “I will not negotiate with terrorists.” The point Democrats are/were making was that by refusing to back an increase of the debt limit unless certain conditions were met, Republicans were threatening to damage the nation’s credit rating or force a partial government shutdown. Which they were. Try and prove that wrong. You can’t, because it’s exactly what happened. No one had tried a move like this with the debt limit before. Republicans almost did in 1995, but they gave up, because the politics were rotten.
If you don’t want your opponent to label you a hostage-taker, here’s a idea: Don’t take hostages. You could argue that this fight was more like an intervention, or a trip to one of those “scared stright” camps, where there’s no ransom. But all of these situations involve the prospect of harm to a third party in exchange for concessions from a second party. And that’s not uncommon in politics. You guys are in politics. Don’t pretend you’re in mortal danger if someone uses a label you don’t like and you’re not next to your fainting couch.