WSJ’S James Taranto: Saxby Chambliss’ Victory Over Martin Proves He Didn’t Viciously Smear Max Cleland
Chambliss’s victory assures the GOP of at least 41 Senate seats. It also lays to rest one of the nastiest McCarthyite smears of recent times: the repeated assertion by Democrats and the media that former senator Max Cleland’s patriotism is in question.
Cleland was seeking a second term in 2002 when Chambliss ran against him. Chambliss criticized Cleland’s voting record–specifically, his repeated votes against the legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security. Cleland and fellow Democrats objected to provisions in the law that gave the new department more flexibility vis-à-vis union work rules. Chambliss accused Cleland of cravenly pandering to special interests.
No he didn’t. He said that Cleland was a lying coward who didn’t want to defend the country from the scary Arabs that wanted to kill us.
Had Martin prevailed, there’s little doubt his fellow Democrats would have claimed vindication for their McCarthyite effort to smear Cleland as a man whose patriotism is in question. Chambliss’s win therefore should be seen as a victory for civility and decency in politics.
But let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that Chambliss wasn’t calling Cleland a big cowardly terror-enabling girl and, in fact, simply accusing Cleland of "cravenly pandering to special interests."
Would someone who truly loves his country endanger it by "cravenly" putting "special interests" over its security?
Yeah, probably not.