Liberals in denial

Posted: Aug 09, 2003 12:00 AM

What is it about many liberals that blinds them to their true nature? What makes them think that they are unbiased, objective, open-minded, tolerant and free of "hate"? Why are they so often in denial -- even about their own liberalism?
Way before Bernard Goldberg wrote his insider expose of the liberal bias of CBS News and confirmed the liberals' obliviousness to their own bias, I personally observed this phenomenon.

 They are so caught up in the "righteousness" of their cause that they see liberalism as the norm -- there's no bias in being objectively normal -- and conservatism as deviating from the norm. Reporting is either objective or conservatively biased; there is no such thing as liberal bias. So truly liberal reporting is objective, truly objective reporting is conservative, and truly conservative reporting is radically conservative.

 The same thing applies to other areas (beyond reporting). For example, liberal judicial activism is touted as progressive and forward thinking. Efforts to roll it back -- as opposed to engaging in conservative judicial activism -- are deemed conservative judicial activism. Again, that's because liberalism is the norm; actively implementing it through the judiciary or otherwise is a positive thing, a return to normalcy, irrespective of such trivial concerns as the unconstitutional usurpation of power by the courts.

 In addition, to liberals, conservatives are not only close-minded, reactionary and regressive. They're hateful. You heard me right. Conservatives are no longer just uncompassionate. They're hateful and intolerant -- merely for opposing socialism and defending traditional values.

 A recent commentary in the New Yorker, "Radio Daze," by Hendrik Hertzberg illustrates all these points. After lamenting the dominance of conservative talk on radio, which he contemptuously derides as "shrill jabber," Hertzberg whines that "There is no real liberal or even just noncon (nonconservative) counterpart to the radiocons, as we might call them."

 Why? Because conservatives, according to Hertzberg, thrive on hate. "For the radiocon audience, political hate (beg ITAL) is comedy and drama. To their ears, it's music." But noncons, he says, "do not regard politics as entertainment."

 Oh, sure, National Public Radio enjoys an audience size roughly equivalent to "The Rush Limbaugh Show," says Hertzberg, but NPR is "an alternative" "not an equivalent." NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," he contends, "are news-feature broadcasts; they adhere to the practices of journalistic professionalism, including the aspirational ideal of objectivity."

 There's more. "Their (NPR's) sensibility," says Hertzberg, "may fairly be said to be "liberal" in the sense that liberal education is liberal -- that is, open-minded and urbane, with a preference for empirical inquiry over dogmatic conclusion-mongering -- but what little overt political commentary they offer hovers around the moderate middle."

 Perhaps by "objectivity," "urbanity" and "empirical inquiry" Hertzberg has in mind an incident in 1995 when Andrei Codrescu on NPR's "All Things Considered," said (about Christ's rapture of His church), "The evaporation of four million (people) who believe in this (Christian) crap would leave this world a better place"?

 Or, maybe instead Hertzberg is thinking about the time an NPR reporter baselessly implied that the Traditional Values Coalition, a Christian pro-family ministry, was complicit in the terrorist anthrax attacks in Washington, D.C.?

 Just as liberals sometimes deny the presence of liberalism, they also often deny the liberalism of their preferred candidates -- for purposes of political cover. While they all tell us there is a perpetual Mexican stand off between liberalism and conservatism, between the blue states and red states, between pro-abortionists and pro-lifers, they know better. They are in the minority.

 Why else would they deny (with the aid of the big three television networks, as the Media Research Center has artfully demonstrated) the flagrant liberalism of their wonder boy, Dr. Howard Dean? "But as governor of Vermont he was a fiscal conservative," they protest, seemingly unaware that hyper-taxing a state into budget balance is not a conservative's dream.

 Regardless of Dean's record as governor, he's running as a militant, radical, Bush-hating liberal. And liberals love him in direct proportion to his liberal extremism. The enthusiasm of their support for him belies their denials of his liberalism. Do they actually think we're pumpkin-truckesque enough to fall for this transparent ruse? They might as well be saying, "While we are staunch liberals, Howard Dean is a moderate, which is why we support him so strongly."

 So whether it's the result of their paradoxical close-mindedness (in the case of not recognizing biased liberal reporting), or their scheming political wiles (as in the case of distancing themselves from the liberal label during elections), liberals are wont to deny liberalism. I don't blame them.