If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


Clowns to the Left, Jokers on the Right

A Commentary by Debra J. Saunders

When activists break the law protesting Republican policies, it is because lefties care so much. But when conservatives act likewise, it's because they are loudmouths and louts.

So TV tells me. During an interview last week with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., NBC's Ann Curry observed that former GOP running mate Sarah Palin, who was about to stump for McCain over the weekend, had told supporters, "Don't retreat, instead -- reload" and posted on her Facebook page "a map highlighting weak Democratic districts that conservatives should target with a crosshair symbol.

"Considering these threats, these concerns that we've been hearing about, regarding violence, do you think, do you now recommend that your party use less incendiary language and will you say that to her tomorrow?"

What could McCain do but laugh? The political lexicon long has used martial terms like "target" and "battleground." Even if that is true -- somehow she seemed unsure -- Curry continued, "These are very dangerous times. Is this the language that we should be hearing today?"

The short answer: Yes. CNN's Howard Kurtz got it right when he noted on "Reliable Sources" Sunday, "The conservative argument is that the media didn't seem quite so concerned with civility when protesters were calling George W. Bush a war criminal and a Nazi, and (using) that kind of overheated rhetoric as well."

Remember when an Iraqi threw his shoes at Bush -- and it was Bush's fault? Kurtz's three media guests disagreed. You see, they said, the right crossed the line. Poor babies; they can't even see that their line is the right.

Because Democrats see this story as a Victim Opportunity, there is more rage at vocal ObamaCare opponents than, say, students who have vandalized UC Berkeley property, including the chancellor's home, or toward violent anti-Bush protests.

Being a Victim is great for business, too. As Pelosi said Monday, the GOP "really helps me with my fundraising."

As the recipient of copious slurs and the occasional threat, I have more cause than most to resent the angry froth that bubbles forth when ideologues believe the rules of civility do not apply to them.

While most of the vacuous insults hurled my way come from the left, I get them from the right, too. Incivility is not confined to one party. Both sides know how to shout.

On Saturday, authorities arrested a Philadelphia man for threatening House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. Apparently, Norman Leboon videotaped his threat to kill Cantor and his "cupcake evil wife" and children, and was so impressed with himself that he posted his threat on the Internet. A genius, that man. As Politico reported, Leboon also referred to the fact that Cantor is Jewish.

Does Leboon's behavior reflect on all liberals? Should the conservative media connect Leboon's threats to left-wing anti-Semitism? Will Curry ask Democrats to tone down their rhetoric lest they inflame more violence? Of course not.

Yet somehow, threats made against Democrats are supposed to reflect on the right. Folks like Curry have a story line, and they'll make the facts fit it. When the facts don't fit, there is no story.


See Other Political Commentary

See Other Commentary by Debra J. Saunders

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.