Since the civility campaign never struck me as anything more than an effort to silence conservatives, particularly the tea party, I must confess that am not surprised by President Obama’s refusal to utter even the merest little peep against Jimmy Hoffa’s Labor Day call for jihad (Oh, wait–I can’t say that, can I?) against the tea party. 

The prez was just a joshing about all this civility stuff. Rich Lowry’s characterization of his Tucson speech calling for civility is apt: 

It was moving, pitch-perfect and – in its key passages calling for civility in our political discourse – brazenly insincere. 

The American left needs not only lessons in civility but maybe some valium to get them through the upcoming political season. As for the tea party, which the left obsesively vilifies, the tea party people I’ve met are just ordinary citizens alarmed about their coutry’s financial path. They don’t care about race and, as far as I can tell, it’s a secular movement. I’ve attended a number of tea party functions, and I’ve always been impressed with the friendliness of people. I have heard no foul language, and certainly nothing to compare to Hoffa’s martial incitements. Even at the rally the day Congress voted in Obamacare, a terrible disappointment for the tea party, I heard nothing I wouldn’t say to my mother or a small child.  

Even if they wanted to be as nasty as Hoffa (and I don’t think that’s their style), the tea party people know that they couldn’t afford such verbal indulgence. As Lowry points out, if Sarah Palin had said anything like what Hoffa said “MSNBC would preempt its usual prison documentaries to do 24-hour coverage of the supposed incitement to violence.”

Why has the left become so vile? One reason is that their policies, enacted in Barack Obama’s first two, transformative years, have proven disastrous. They know they can’t win by touting Obamacare. They know “jobs saved and created” sounds like a head fake. “We’re the Teamsters and we need to protect our privileges, no matter if it means killing jobs in South Carolina,” lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Ditto: “We want to spend more of your money on programs and entitlements for our constituencies.”

My colleague Carrie Lukas had the best summation I’ve seen yet of what is behind Hoffa’s incendiary language:

But beyond that, it’s another interesting window into what unions have become in the United States. Far from protecting workers’ rights, they are really all about expanding government’s power, so that government can be used to dole out favors to the politically collected, particularly union bosses.

Charging that one’s opponents are racist, unpatriotic, or hate poor people seems to be the default position for people without arguments. These unfounded slurs may persuade a lot of unthinking people. But the rise of the fearless tea party indicates that the tactic isn’t working for everybody.  

Let’s hope voters see through this. Indeed, it’s my hope that ugly epithets are being thrown about in a way that renders them less potent as they once were. Take racist. I think real racists should be called out, but calling everybody who disagrees with you a racist is another matter. Al Gore’s recent comparison of those who don’t share his views on global warming to racists was, in my opinion, a nail in the coffin of this all-purpose smear.