How Low They Sink

Via Instapundit, right-wing blogger Dan Riehl has this to say about political discourse in America:

I'm known to get fired up, have a temper, be a bit of a bomb thrower, whatever. But I did a strange sort of thought experiment a day or so after listening to these reports out of Tucson. I tried to imagine myself actually engaging in violence against a leftist politician. Truth be told, the thought repulsed me purely on human terms.

Besides that, not only would it be contrary to my values, I know it would hurt my cause politically. I mean, I actually thought that. Just imagine how much the Left would love it if a reasonably well known conservative committed a vile act like this. Hell, I wouldn't give them the satisfaction, even were I capable of it.

Well let's look at Riehl as a figure who is certainly part of the established institutional right. He garners regular Instapundit links, did consulting work for the Republican National Committee, and was recently recruited to the Breitbart family of Web sites. Mark Levin has guest posted on his site, and regularly compliments his work. So what exactly does he refer to when he says that he is "a bit of a bomb thrower," one motivated by "passion," but "not hate"? What kinds of statements can he make without jeopardizing his stature among leading voices in the conservative movement?

Let's consider a few examples:

– When Senator Harry Reid's 69-year-old wife was in a serious car accident that resulted in a broken back and a broken neck, Riehl titled his post, "Isn't It Time to Euthanize Reid's Wife," and wrote, "I'm not sure I quite understand this, given that cost is so important as a burden to taxpayers when it comes to health care. If Democrats want so badly to abort babies because of it, why are we bothering with someone who has a broken neck and back at 69? It sounds to me like she's pretty well used up and has probably been living off the taxpayers for plenty of years to begin with." When Media Matters flagged that post, Riehl responded, "I wish I knew those babies way back when. I'd have taken a coat hanger to them!"

– So many people took forceful exception to The Dish's coverage of Trig Palin without sinking to this: "Sullivan has made himself into a raving retard over this past year with his Palin posts... Get a sex change, or at least start wearing Red outfits and high heels around the house playing Sarah dress-up for yourself and whatever gutter trash you can round up at the local adult book store. You look like an aging queen on her knees at some gloryhole waiting for a miraculous birth certificate to be slipped in from the next stall so you can engage your latest perversion until you climax all over yourself."

– Remember that dead census worker they found? When the story broke, and based on no evidence whatsoever, Riehl wrote, "Was Census Worker Bill Sparkman A Child Predator?"

– Here's what Riehl wrote about Megan McCain: "The Obama's ought to adopt this misguided girl so Michelle can get her into an obesity program. Her arms are starting to look like flippers and it ain't all about the breasts. With the right hat and a honky horn, I'd think she was a trained seal! I mean, seriously: arr arr arr. That poor girl. As for the commentary, what is wrong with Americans today? People actually watch this dumb stuff?? Fat, dumpy and stupid is no way to go through life, Megan. Get a grip on yourself, dear, instead of that next Krispy Kreme. You'll live longer, not that that's necessarily a good thing."

Usually someone like Riehl isn't worth acknowledging. There are vile bloggers on the right and the left. What's notable is that this sort of rhetoric – and there are plenty more examples – isn't an impediment to writing at Human Events or Big Government, or hosting Mark Levin guests posts. It doesn't even prevent Instapundit from taking you seriously when you write a post claiming that your rhetoric isn't motivated by hate (just the sort of "passion" that you regard as the Tea Party's strength).

Infantile bile is part of the blogosphere. But the adults in the conservative movement are either silent or complicit in this. And from the reaction to the debate over inflammatory rhetoric so far, they seem willing to fire it up some more.