Rude. Smug. Disrespectful. Condescending. These are a few of the adjectives commentators used to describe Joe Biden’s demeanor in last week’s vice presidential debate. Biden’s conduct in debating Rep. Paul Ryan perfectly captures the political left’s dismissive and often contemptuous response to conservatives.
Some on the left just can’t hide their contempt for conservatives. In the first presidential debate in 2000, Al Gore couldn’t contain his impatience with George W. Bush. The result was a series of audible sighs suggesting he just couldn’t stand sharing the stage with Bush or having to entertain his policy ideas.
Last week’s vice presidential debate was defined by Joe Biden’s condescending tone. Biden is known as an affable and amiable guy who has friends across the political spectrum.
But last Thursday night Biden was smug, impatient and belittling as he tried to bully his way through a debate he had no chance of winning on substance. A number of times after making a point, Biden fixed Ryan with an icy glare that seemed utterly full of contempt.
There are reports that Biden interrupted Ryan 82 times during the 90-minute debate. He talked over both Ryan and debate moderator Martha Raddatz. Biden’s debate performance was a microcosm of the Obama presidency and re-election campaign strategy of division and distraction.
Biden was aggressive because that’s what his left wing base demanded he be. They wanted to see more combativeness, more divisiveness, and that’s exactly what they got. Biden was condescending because the liberal mindset assumes moral and ideological superiority.
Biden’s performance embodied that mindset. Whenever the left can’t win a debate on its merits (which is often) they descend to schoolyard antics, becoming unhinged with contempt as if they’ve never been challenged or exposed to a conservative position before.
That’s too often how the Left wins, by bullying. Their instinct to bully opponents was on display two weeks ago when sixteen-year-old Samantha Pawlucy wore a pink Romney/Ryan T-shirt to school. It allegedly prompted her geometry teacher at Charles Carroll High School in Philadelphia to compare support for the Republican ticket to support for the Ku Klux Klan. He also allegedly told her to “get out of the classroom.” Samantha has felt so uncomfortable at school that she has stopped going, and her parents have transferred her to another school.
Recently a 78-year-old public school bus driver told a 12-year-old boy on her bus that he should have been aborted because the boy’s parents had a Romney/Ryan sign in their front yard. After the boy got on the bus, he and the driver had a spirited political debate, which ended when the driver said, “Maybe your mom should have chosen abortion for you.”
For many leftists the real objective is not to engage conservatives but instead to shut them up. Earlier this year, a North Carolina teacher was suspended for telling one of her students not to criticize President Obama. A video of the exchange posted online shows the Social Studies teacher suggesting that the student could be arrested for slandering the president.
This type of bullying is a hallmark of the gay rights movement, which often turns vicious and violent when things don’t go its way. To take just one example, gay sex writer Dan Savage gave a talk last year to hundreds of high school students in which he mocked Christians and the Bible. He was supposed to be giving a speech about efforts to stop school bullying but instead ended up personifying the very problem he was invited to speak against.
Such contempt for opposing viewpoints is partly a product of the ideologically isolated and insulated world in which many on the left grow up and reside. Liberals are weaned on the culturally liberal popular culture, obtain their news from the liberal mainstream media and are indoctrinated with liberal propaganda at school and in the workplace.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked with conservatives who have told me stories about debating liberal college friends or professors who, when challenged on a political point, become utterly exasperated that someone could hold a conservative position. Outspoken conservatives are an endangered species on most college campuses and almost nonexistent among professors.
It’s ironic that cries for more civility and respectful discourse in politics so often come from the left and their media allies. It is the left that has come to be defined by the very incivility it so often bemoans.