The Democratic victory in the protracted health care debate has brought the expected rejoicing from the liberals in government, the universities, and in the prestige media. The current slant on the story follows the idea that America has now climbed aboard the progressive express, joining enlightened lands such as Britain, Cuba and North Korea in guaranteeing health care for all. The triumphalism extends now to the next few tiles in the liberal mosaic, namely amnesty for illegal aliens, a comprehensive energy bill, and a staggering tax increase to start paying for these goodies.
At the nation’s newspaper of record, the venerable New York Times, the columnists are not content to merely celebrate their victory and bask in the afterglow. Frank Rich, Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd have worked themselves into a fine lather about the throngs of Americans who protested this monstrosity, known collectively as the “Tea Partiers”. The Times folks show the full diversity of liberal opinion when they condemn the Tea Partiers. Bob Herbert sees them as bigots, racists and haters. Paul Krugman denounces the Tea Partiers as economic illiterates, racists and haters. Maureen Dowd charges that the Tea Partiers were scaremongers, racists and haters. Finally, the estimable Frank Rich claimed that Tea Partiers resembled Nazis, and threw in “racists” and “haters” as general afterthoughts. When one reads the New York Times one finds that those who protested the health care takeover were hateful, racist, rabble-rousers, who were intent on violence and mayhem. How do we know this? If the New York Times columnists say it, then it must be true!
In order to buttress their arguments the Times fabulous four cited the examples of Tea Partiers allegedly peppering black Congressman John Lewis with racial epithets, and supposedly expectorating on Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver of Missouri. In addition, protesters allegedly taunted openly gay Congressman Barney Frank with anti-gay slurs. What is the reality of this regrettable situation? The Tea Partiers strenuously deny all of the charges. No one has produced any footage of these supposed incidents even though official media coverage and citizens with cameras and picture phones saturated Capitol Hill on March 21st. The police records for the day show no arrests during the demonstrations. So, in contrast to the riotous mob described by the Times, the Tea Partiers seem to have been a generally decorous and well-behaved crowd.
We may never find out the entire truth. But let us return to the theme of this column. A quick perusal of the Times columnists on this subject reveals a level of hate and antipathy seldom seen since the media savaged Barry Goldwater in 1964. To wit: Maureen Dowd argued, “Some base members of the Republican base showed themselves as the racist Neanderthals that they are.” Racist Neanderthals? That is pretty incendiary language and not the type of prose a reader would expect from a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist. Paul Krugman chimed in, “It was racial hate-mongering…a vicious unprincipled fear offensive failed to block reform.” This is hardly the type of detached and restrained analysis one would expect from a Nobel Laureate in economics. Frank Rich compared the Tea Partiers to the Nazi brownshirts who attacked Jews on the infamous Kristallnacht of November 10, 1938. Bob Herbert outdid all of his office mates when he referred to Tea Partiers as, “A group of lowlifes” and “foaming-at-the-mouth protesters…” He charged the Republican Party with “encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest reporters.” He further stated “For decades the GOP has been the Party of fear, ignorance, and divisiveness” and that “This is the Party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.” Someone had better try to calm Mr. Herbert down before he hurts himself.
What should readers make of this sampling of New York Times opinions? First of all, the newspaper and its columnists are completely contemptuous of Middle America, as their commentary clearly shows. Secondly, the newspaper will not endorse a Republican candidate in 2012, although that comes as no surprise. Finally, a sampling of NYT columnists reveals a bottomless reservoir of bitterness and vitriol, churlishness and spite. Comparing ones opponents to Hitler’s thugs, charging everyone on the other side with racism and bigotry, and questioning the mental acuity and even the sanity of those who disagree with your position are the hallmarks of the demagogue at work. Who are the real haters here? The Tea Partiers or Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert and Maureen Dowd? As my dear departed grandmother used to say, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”.