Liberals across the country, who saw in President Obama’s victory the great liberal ascendancy that they had for so long hoped for, are watching as their dream is crushed under the weight of reality: Obama was never as popular as we were told he was.

The candidate Obama won the presidential election by only 7 percent – against an opponent who ran a completely incoherent campaign, with the most favorable media coverage in American history and as the successor to one of the most unpopular presidents in recent history. Any decent Democrat in that position could have pulled out a seven-point victory. But Obama’s support was fickle; it was a mile wide and an inch deep. People believed not in Obama or his true vision for the country, but in his childish bromides and the fantasy narrative spun by the media. The president received no mandate, and to the extent that he garnered any political capital at all, it was squandered on a stimulus package that almost no one believes is making any difference.

Obama, to his credit, has handled his recent bouts with reality with relative grace and class. Realizing that his policies may not have been as popular as he himself was as a candidate, he has shown willingness to compromise on certain measures in order to facilitate passage. And while engaging in political scheming as any president must, he has kept his rhetoric relatively honest and hasn’t, at least to this point, delivered any low blows. However much one might disagree with Obama – however wrong one may believe him to be – one must admire his refusal to resort to cheap shots or accusations of conspiracy.

The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for several prominent liberals. Realizing that the president is on the ropes, that the liberal agenda is on its way to outright rejection and that the American people are starting to express a degree of buyer’s remorse, multiple liberals have turned to what they have always excelled at – impugning character rather than engaging in meaningful debate. Conservatives are well accustomed to this practice of name-calling and motive-questioning, and thus find themselves hardly shocked at its recent return.

Former President Jimmy Carter has claimed that the majority of the opposition to Obama is based on racism. Maureen Dowd has claimed that Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who famously yelled “You lie” at the president during his speech on health care, was not only being inexcusably inappropriate, but racist. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has led an entire chorus of Democrats in calling the recent protests against President Obama and the Democratic Congress “un-American.” Only a few months ago, protest was hailed as the highest form of patriotism by those who virulently opposed President Bush. Today, curiously enough, protesters are “un-American” – phony, disingenuous and, of course, motivated by racial spite.

Among the worst of these accusations, however, has come from columnists and commentators like Thomas Friedman, who have suggested that those openly opposing the president are implicitly telegraphing approval for violence against him. When President Bush was called a “war criminal,”international terrorist” and worse, not a single liberal worried about the implicit approval for violence. Today, again quite curiously, accusations of socialism and “Tea Party” protests are to be taken as promotional of violence against the president.

The worst part about this kind of rhetoric is its central strategy. It is a thinly veiled attempt to silence those in opposition to the liberal agenda. Rather than address the opposition on the merits of their arguments, it is much easier to bully with charges of racism or secret wishes of assassination. Here lies the force behind the liberal strategy.

Fortunately, despite their effectiveness in the past, accusations of racism and promotion of violence are gaining less traction than they used to. People are beginning to see through such accusations as nothing more than cynical attempts at diverting attention from the actual issues at hand. With a radical expansion in the size and influence of government, domestic policy that would fundamentally alter the character of American society and a new foreign policy that seems more concerned with the president’s own popularity than America’s strategic position, Americans are resoundingly rejecting the shameful attempts on the part of liberals to silence opposition.

In the end, they may be doing the liberals a favor. Protest and opposition are tools the liberals may need when their own tactics pave the way toward a RepublicanCongress in 2010.

Jeffrey Long is a junior in the College. He can be reached at Conscience of a Conservative appears every other Tuesday.

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