Jonah Goldberg

Of course, President Obama has the same mind-set. He often talks about how he's not an ideologue but a pragmatist, and how he's a essentially a disinterested public servant pushing no agenda other than what all the experts agree is the best policy -- on health care, the environment, the economy, etc. He likes to say how he's open to new ideas from everywhere, but the new ideas he takes seriously just happen to come from the left and always involve more government. It's not that he's liberal, he's just right. Or as Krugman once put it, "the facts have a liberal bias."

Such arrogant groupthink not only leads to bad policies, but it reinforces a mass psychology that simply takes it for granted that liberals have sole access to the Truth. It's like having God on your side without having to believe in God.

This attitude isn't reserved for small technocratic squabbles. Sometimes government takes an active role, as when the Obama administration unilaterally decides that religious exemptions to Obamacare are illegitimate, at least for a bunch of nuns or companies such as Hobby Lobby.

Other times, the truth-is-liberal crowd thinks it's OK to use government to punish the un-liberal philistines. No agency is supposed to be more disinterested than the IRS, but it appears that Lois Lerner considered neutrality to be something reserved for her ideological tribe.

And sometimes this stuff spills out into the culture. As defenders of Brendan Eich's defenestration from Mozilla are right to note, the government didn't force him out. The company merely exercised its rights in a free society. The same goes for Brandeis University, which rescinded Ayaan Hirsi Ali's invitation for an honorary degree because she's considered politically incorrect for her criticism of Islam.

But the liberal tribe seems to champion such freedoms only when they line up with its own worldview. You can have all the freedom and autonomy you want, so long as it yields progressive ends. But if you don't want to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding, or if you're a nun who doesn't want to pay for something you don't need and are morally opposed to, that's too bad. The right to be wrong, in liberals' eyes, is a right only liberals should have, even if, like Paul Krugman, you never need to exercise it. And, all too often, when you are wrong, that's when liberals bring out their hammers.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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