As the Democratic Convention wound down, Vice President George Bush accused Michael Dukakis of being "a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union."
I do have a prejudice touching this disturbing echo of the injustices of the McCarthy era. My prejudice is that the United States is the greatest political invention of modern times. Recognizing the need to protect the individual from the crushing power of the state, the founders gave us a Bill of Rights which made the greatness of our democracy possible.
In using a variation of Sen. Joe McCarthy's "three-C phrase" (card-carrying communist), Bush employed another evil trick used by the senator. Guilt by association is a sneak's way of injustice.
The possibility that this unfortunate lapse to one of the more unproud times of our republic was created at the top level of Bush's staff was enhanced when Patrick Buchanan repeated the phrase on television. Buchanan is not the most temperate speech writer to have worked in the White House.
As vice president of ACLU of Southern California, I could carry a membership card if I felt a need to do so. Therefore, the brain trust that wrote this phrase for Bush (I do not believe he wrote it himself) attacked me. Of what am I and others who love freedom from government oppression accused?
Bush's slogan makers were true poets. They dredged up memories of scoundrels like McCarthy without actually accusing me of the sin of "C". I don't feel smeared. I don't feel slurred. There is something effete about their work. I stand accused of belonging to an organization to which Bush does not belong. I certainly would resist any attempt to discover if Bush is a closeted member of ACLU.
Do you suppose that Bush's brain trust gasped when ACLU sued for dismissal of the charges against Oliver North on constitutional grounds? They should not have. They should know that ACLU believes the Constitution protects everyone, even them.
Our Constitution protects Bush--even if he does talk funny.
E.H. DUNCAN DONOVAN