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Lanny Davis Headshot

The Dangerous Joining of the Far Right and Far Left

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Has there ever been a better example, at least in recent years, proving that the extreme left and extreme right share more in common than those on their own side of the ideological divide when it comes to the issue of health care?

On the far right: the shouters shouting down other people who wish to speak at town meetings, whacko "birthers," and liars inventing "death panels" and obscenely and recklessly mentioning Adolph Hitler and Nazi symbols to scare people; irresponsible radio and TV talkers who use hate words and name-calling as a substitute for debating the issues civilly; and

On the far left: including the most vicious posters on the so-called liberal blogosphere, threatening businesses with one or more executives who offer personal ideas for achieving national health care reform different from the Administration's or Democratic congressional leaders' versions (full disclosure: I support all of President Obama's core principles for national health care legislation, though I still have many unanswered questions); hateful e-mails, phone calls, blogs, and personal attacks, distorting alternative ideas different from the Administration's approach and attacking the motives of those airing them; and intolerance for anyone who disagrees, including personal invective and demonization of those with different views.

When the far left and the far right join in the Politics of Hate and Demonization, it is time for the vast center-left and center-right of this country to speak up and call them out equally.

It is time for responsible liberal and conservative political leaders and talk show hosts to denounce these extremist haters who stand in direct opposition to President Obama's call for respectful discourse and debate and who threaten our democratic traditions and institutions.

Silence is no longer acceptable by responsible liberals towards the reckless far left or by responsible conservatives towards the reckless far right.

Silence is complicity.

Mr. Davis was former Special Counsel to President Clinton, 1996-98, and served on President Bush's Privacy and Civil Liberties Board, 2005-2006. He writes regular weekly columns for The Washington Times and The Hill newspapers.