Frank Rich and the State of Liberal Commentary
The New York Times columnist offers insults in the guise of thought.


Dennis Prager

Rich: “Those opposing same-sex marriage are just as eager to mask their bigotry.”

Rich: “The more bigotry pushed out of the closet for all voters to see . . . ”

Rich: “. . . the deep prejudice at the root of [Republicans’] arguments . . . ”

Here are the usual charges of “homophobia,” “prejudice,” and “bigotry.”

But also note “spewing.” Rich almost never describes conservatives as speaking normally: In this column alone, they spewed, Sen. Orrin Hatch “vamped,” and Sen. John McCain “huffed,” “fulminated,” and was “yapping.” No conservative “says” or “claims” or “argues.” Conservatives spew, vamp, huff, fulminate, and yap. Do Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Thomas Sowell, or any other commentators whom conservatives take as seriously as the Left takes Rich use such verbs to describe the speech of prominent liberals? I doubt it. The gulf in depth of thought and sophistication of expression between Frank Rich and virtually every mainstream conservative columnist is enormous. (I did a 30-day search for the words “spew” and “spewed” on the Washington Post and New York Times websites, and every single time they were used, it was by a liberal writer talking about conservatives.)

Rich: [Conservatives who oppose repeal of DADT are] “attack dogs.”

Rich: [Sen. John McCain is] “the crazy man in Washington’s attic.” (Rich also called McCain “unpatriotic” in his previous column — a particularly ugly charge given McCain’s heroic sacrifices for America.)

Rich: “Karl Rove and George W. Bush ran a national campaign [in 2004] exploiting fear of gay people . . .”

Rich provided no example. For good reason. Bush did not run “a national campaign exploiting fear of gay people” in 2004 (or any other year). What Bush called for in 2004 was a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In fact, Bush took his own party to task for not supporting civil unions for same-sex couples. It is mendacity — indeed it is a smear — to label what Bush advocated “a national campaign exploiting fear of gay people.” But to Rich and his supporters, anyone — anyone — who thinks marriage should be defined as the union of a man and a woman is a fear-mongering bigot.

Rich: “Now that explicit anti-gay animus is an albatross, those who oppose gay civil rights are driven to invent ever loopier rationales for denying those rights, whether in the military or in marriage.”

Rich: “The arguments for preserving ‘don’t ask’ have long been blatantly groundless.”

Where is this mainstream-conservative “explicit anti-gay animus”? And why are the arguments that gays in a military unit may fall in love with one another (or with a straight person) — or that, for the same reason (sexual tension) we do not have men and women in the same units, showering and sleeping together, we might not deem it a good idea to have sexual tension in an all-men’s unit — why are these arguments “loopy” and “groundless”? This conservative columnist and talk-show host does not find liberal arguments for admitting open gays into the military either loopy or groundless. But contrary to the Left’s self-image, conservatives are far more likely to acknowledge two sides to this and so many other issues.

The truth is that it is Frank Rich who spews, fulminates, yaps, and huffs. Every Sunday in the New York Times. His column is idea-free, but his readers want catharsis, not ideas.

– Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. He may be contacted through his website,