If one had to read one columnist to appreciate the state of contemporary left-wing commentary, my nomination would be Frank Rich of the Sunday New York Times.
No well-known leftist columnist better exemplifies the worst aspects of today's left. Virtually every piece is filled with anger, filled with ad hominem responses to arguments, filled with insults of opponents and at the same time devoid of intellectual arguments. A Frank Rich column is essentially a weekly tantrum meant to make his readers nod in agreement and reinforce their contempt for those who differ with them.
I offer this past Sunday's column as an example.
The subject was the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the military.
Not a single serious argument of proponents of DADT was cited, nor did Rich did offer a single argument on behalf of repealing it. Instead, the article was a smear of all supporters of that policy or of retaining the male-female definition of marriage. The article contains 71 sentences. Twelve sentences contained an insult. I suspect that Times readers who love his columns -- this was listed as the second most e-mailed piece in the New York Times -- are generally people who read Frank Rich so as to have their hatreds reinforced, not for cogent arguments.
The article's title is, appropriately, an insult: "Smoke the Bigots Out of the Closet."
It is commonplace for liberals and leftists to avoid refuting conservative arguments and just dismiss the conservative with one of seven epithets: "Racist," "Bigoted," "Sexist," "Intolerant," and the three phobias: "Homophobic," Xenophobic," "Islamaphobic."
Such ad hominem dismissals of conservatives and their arguments testify to the shallowness of those using these terms, meaning, unfortunately, most mainstream commentators and spokesmen on the left. The fact is that epithets substitute for thought -- and at the same time render it easy to write a left-wing column. It is the Frank Rich Formula: make believe the other side has no thoughtful argument, offer no argument of your own and debase your opponents.
Some examples from just this one column:
RICH: "... there is now little political advantage to spewing homophobia."
RICH: (CNN allowed conservative spokesmen to express) "old homophobic cliches."
RICH: "Such arguments ... are mere fig leaves to disguise the phobia that can no longer dare speak its name. ... (T)he flimsy rhetorical camouflage must be stripped away to expose the prejudice that lies beneath."
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”