Cathy Young asks the burning question, Who’s meaner, conservatives or liberals?

Young produces plenty of examples from both sides, but focuses much of her attention on Ann Coulter, including this snippet: Her long rap sheet of hateful remarks includes this gem from a speech last year to the Conservative Political Action Committee:

“We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals by making them realize that they could be killed, too.”

I’ve long been baffled to see so many conservatives defend Coulter as a fiery and witty, if over-the-top, polemicist. Reviewing her previous book, Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, in The Weekly Standard, Christopher Caldwell lauded the “Menckenesque invective” of such apercus as: “Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do. They don’t have the energy. If they had that much energy, they’d have indoor plumbing by now.” There’s no accounting for taste, I suppose; but even if you regard Coulter’s rhetoric as funny, her consistent demonization of her opponents and her constant equation of dissent with treachery are not.


Young concludes that there is enough blame to go around:

If the conservative paradigm is that liberals are unpatriotic, if not downright un-American (and possibly also godless and libertine), then the liberal paradigm is that conservatives are at best uncompassionate and at worst bigots and fascists. Hannity has a point when he says that people who are outraged by Coulter’s crude stereotyping of Democrats often don’t hesitate to suggest that “the Republicans want to poison the air, water, kill children and throw children on the streets.” Not to mention abuse the elderly and burn down black churches.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mark-NC says:

    I was a registered Republican for 25 years, but have changed to Independent because of the nasty antics of my former party.

    It sickened me to watch the non-stop garbage thrown at Bill Clinton. And it sickened me more to watch them deny their nasty tone as if the “liberals” had imagined it.

    I voted for Nixon, Ford, Reagan (twice), H. W. Bush (twice).

    I won’t vote Republican again until they change their tactics – which probably means never.

  2. Al Frick says:

    Which liberal female editorialist, (Ellen Goodman or Marsha Mercer perhaps?), wrote about Elizabeth Dole when she was running for office,

    “How dare she?” meaning Ms. Dole

    “Why she’s never been elected to an office. She is only where she is becaus eof her husband, And she is from out of state, having lived elsewhere for so long.”

    Of course all of these criticism applied to Hillary Clinton, but let’s forget that.

    Remember Robert Bork? Tell me the liberals won’t mean and vicious to him. Only about 6 months before his awful treatment, Joe Biden and the ABA were praising Bork as “one of the finest jurist this country has produced.” Talk about hypocrisy.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Right. Young’s point is that there has been a whole lot of that from both sides.

  4. Paul says:

    While Mrs. Young obviously has a point, any objective observer would be forced to admit that the “angry left” or “hateful left” as some call it has raised this to a whole new art form…

    But why take my word for it….

    Run the test for yourself. http://www.googlism.com allows you to do a google search for a name and then gives you all occurrences of that name with the word “IS” behind it.

    (ie: James is the best blogger by far)

    Do a search for Bill Clinton and see what people are saying about him.

    Then do a search for George Bush.

    The level of sheer raw angry hate spewing forth for the mouths of these “liberals” is stunning.

    Think both sides are equally as guilty? think again. The left wins hands down.


    They are delusional too, check this result I got:

    “Bill Clinton is a man of the highest moral caliber.”

    That’s just plain funny.

  5. Apache says:

    Why would you have a problem with executing John Walker aka “Johnny Taliban”?

  6. James Joyner says:


    Possibly true. Although the Bush/Clinton Google doesn’t work, since Bush has been president the most recent three years and is going to naturally score higher.


    No problem with executing Walker. More with the rest of the sentence: “We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals by making them realize that they could be killed, too.” I mean, gee whiz.

  7. melvin toast says:

    Who’s meaner? Who cares? I just wish the candidates
    would talk about the issues…harrumph. Actual I don’t
    because it’s much more entertaining when they sling mud.

    Let’s face it. Politics is a free-market system. The politician producing the most delicious rhetoric gets the most votes. Mud slinging is often used because it often works. The fact that Arnold didn’t get sunk by the LAT has to do with the poor execution of the slinging not because people ARE NOW TIRED OF NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING.

    Some politicians do play nice… They’re usually unemployed.

  8. Katewerk says:

    It isn’t just in the US. Here, in Saskatchewan of all places, this erupted yesterday – we’re in an election, with the opposition conservative SaskParty poised to defeat the socialist NDP.


    Bush is a Nazi, Ashcroft is a Nazi, Ahnold is Nazi, now, Elwin Hermanson is a Nazi.

    The followup today? The NDP are accusing Hermanson of crocodile tears and asking questions about his fitness to govern. [if you can’t take a cartoon, how can he run a government?]. From nazi to wimp in 24 hours flat …. the politics of character assassination.


  9. Paul says:

    In fairness to Coulter I *think* what she was trying to say was that many liberals do not understand there is a war between the bad guys and us and the, yes, even liberals are targets.

    There was a time when people did not “get” that if the terrorist had their way we would all be dead. We are all targets. I remember that time as many people on talk radio debated it.

    As far as the score, I don’t see time playing into goggle results but ok.