The Synthetic Outrage Files

It's fair to assume that, anytime a politician uses the phrase "refuse to condemn" or one of its variants, the outrage behind the utterance is probably contrived so as to stoke fears and prejudices.

The phrase usually arises when someone or entity ; the other party pounces, not because they're really outraged (they are not), but because they believe that outrage rallies the troops. There's a circular logic employed, too. If you don't join the cavalcade of outrage, then you can be accused of "refusing to condemn" something.

The comment itself may indeed be offensive, but it does not follow that folks who are associated with the comment-maker have any duty to condemn, much less even mention the comments, especially because, when they do, they're playing onto the turf claimed by those outraged at the comments.

Therefore, the outrage directed at those who REFUSE TO CONDEMN something is logically synthetic. Of course they're NOT outraged. They're DELIGHTED, because they get to whip their opponents over the head with it.

It's the wimpiest form of guilt by association there is.

For example: liberals contrived outrage when John Boehner said this: "We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop Al-Qaida here, if we're able to stabilize the Middle East." Republicans, Sen. John Kerry said, should condemn Mr. Boehner.

And Republicans are outraged that Democrats refused to condemn the ad and, now, Mitt Romney claims to be outraged that Hillary Clinton has nothing to say about the president of Iran's visit to Columbia.

Senator Clinton's refusal to denounce Columbia University for inviting Ahmadinejad to speak demonstrates weakness

The corrollary: when partisans claim that their rivals are hypocrites because they don't condemn every conceivable outrage.