Liberals, too, get foot-in-mouth disease [Commentary]

Chew on these for a minute:

"Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives, who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay, is that who they are? Because if that is who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York. Because that is not who New Yorkers are."


— New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with a directive for New York's GOP candidates last month.

"It's not surprising then they get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them."


— President Barack Obama, at a private campaign fundraiser in April 2008.

"She doesn't understand why any Jew who really understands the issues could support" Robert Ehrlich.

— Baltimore Jewish Times on a conversation with Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who has denied the statement, circa Maryland's 2002 gubernatorial campaign.

"A ventriloquist can always find a good dummy [for tea party Republicans]."

— Rev. William Barber, president of North Carolina's NAACP describing South Carolina's Republican, African American U.S. Senator Tim Scott in January.

"One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn't the same."

— MSNBC panelist Pia Glenn in December on an adopted black grandson in Mitt Romney's family photo

"He is a community organizer like Jesus was, and now we're a community and he can organize us."


— Susan Sarandon, Hollywood actress and activist on Barack Obama in 2009.

Rants of this progressive genre are no longer newsworthy. Indeed, they have become regular admonitions directed to those who do not fit the progressive stereotype.

Take Lt. Governor Michael Steele, just a "token" and "Uncle Tom," according to two of Maryland's leading Democrats. Worse, Mr. Steele's personal triple whammy (Catholic, pro-life and pro-gun) once led Maryland a state senator to exclaim that "party trumps race" when dealing with the counter-intuitive likes of Mr. Steele.

The same tunnel vision is applied to independent Jewish voters. I'm sure it was stunning for Ms. Townsend to see my support in the Jewish community. After all, weren't all Jews supposed to fall in line behind the liberal Democrat? Alas, I guess only those who "really" understood the issues.

It's the same deal with gay issues. Per Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and many prominent Democrats, opposition to gay marriage carries a mandatory charge of homophobia. And no amount of evidence to the contrary can mitigate the cultural indictment.

There is a common theme running through these quotes: a staggering intolerance (on regular display) as practiced by the country's culturally progressive police.


Not so long ago, it was (far) right miscreants who could be counted on for an inflammatory sound bite every now and then. Recall David Duke's racial rants and these aberrations from Missouri and Indiana GOP Senate candidates that served the Democrats' "war on women" narrative perfectly: "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" (Rep. Todd Akin, Missouri); "Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen " (Richard Mourdock, Indiana).

But there is a profound difference between the two extremes. Overheated right wing rhetoric or malapropisms tend to lead the evening news and are followed by high profile apologies, but nevertheless remain fodder for opposition attack ads.

Not so much today's progressive indictments. The new millennium has brought left wing intolerance to the mainstream, its divisive messaging is now a regular critique in our political discourse, and only subject to mea culpas when the target is deemed just too innocent for even the sensibilities of MSNBC (witness the tearful apology of Melissa Harris-Perry for laughing about Mitt Romney's adopted black grandchild).

Certainly the most encompassing of the recent rants comes from the good governor of New York. Here, it's all so clear: Citizens of New York must demonstrate the requisite support for abortion on demand, gun control, illegal immigration, gay marriage, and multiculturalism or … you are not welcome in … New York.

Breathtakingly arrogant? Yes.

Incredibly intolerant? Yeah.


Stunningly anti-intellectual? You bet.

Mainstream progressive thinking? Increasingly so, to the detriment (and coarsening) of our culture — and country.

If you think I'm overreacting, check out a sampling of the ridiculous "speech codes" now proliferating on our college campuses. Or, just watch the next Democratic National Convention where sanitized language is manufactured and delivered to every real or invented interest group imaginable — and please don't take offense if they forgot yours.

This new breed of intolerance should be taken down, now. Nothing more than our grand traditions of pluralism, free association and respectful dissent are at stake.

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s column appears Sundays. The former Maryland governor and member of Congress is a partner at the law firm King & Spalding and the author of "Turn this Car Around" and "America: Hope for Change" — books about national politics. His email is

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