Michael Barone
If the title of Michael Barone's latest column doesn't make you scratch your head, it's contents certainly will.

In "Strangers to Dissent, Liberals Try to Stifle It", Barone argues that political dissent is a foreign concept to liberals (what?) and when faced with this strange concept, their reaction is to suppress it (really?).

If Barone truly believes that dissent dumbfounds 50% of the population, then any point he makes to based on that hypothesis can immediately be thrown out. Dissent is merely opposition. This concept is learned in the crib. You might as well argue that half of Americans are unable to grasp agreement. Barone's premise is simply... dumb.

Here's how Barone begins his argument:

It is an interesting phenomenon that the response of the left half of our political spectrum to criticism and argument is often to try to shut it down. Thus President Obama in his Sept. 9 speech to a joint session of Congress told us to stop "bickering," as if principled objections to major changes in public policy were just childish obstinacy, and chastised his critics for telling "lies," employing "scare tactics" and playing "games." Unlike his predecessor, he sought to use the prestige of his office to shut criticism down.

One of nature's evolved responses to opposition is to stifle it. Disregaurding dissent is human nature and certainly not unique to members one political affiliation as Barone attempts to argue when he ludicrously suggests that Obama, "unlike his predecessor, sought to use the prestige of his office to shut criticism down". I guess Barone forgot that Bush had a protester arrested for wearing a t-shirt he didn't like. Barone's plunge off the deep end doesn't end there.

A favorite target of conservatives is the mainstream media (which is of course, sympathetic to liberal causes). Right on cue, Barone cites the MSM as an example of liberal dissent suppression.

"Mainstream media" try to help. In the past few weeks, we have seen textbook examples of how MSM have ignored news stories that reflected badly on the administration for which it has such warm feelings. It ignored the videos in which the White House "green jobs czar" proclaimed himself a "communist" and the "truther" petition he signed charging that George W. Bush may have allowed the Sept. 11 attacks.

It ignored the videos released on Andrew Breitbart's biggovernment.com showing ACORN employees offering to help a supposed pimp and prostitute evade taxes and employ 13- to 15-year-old prostitutes. It downplayed last spring's Tea Parties -- locally organized demonstrations against big government that attracted about a million people nationwide -- and downplayed the Tea Party throng at the Capitol and on the Mall Sept. 12.


Unfortunately for Barone, not considering a story or a movement as important as he and his colleges do does not constitute suppression. Furthermore, in the midst of a national debate that could result in a revolutionary alteration in how American's pay for their health care, Barone expects the media to focus on one day blips like Van Jones and Dateline-style hidden camera exposes like the ACORN story. How many everyday lives are affected by Van Jones and ACORN? How many would be affected by health care reform?

As noted earlier, Barone complained that President Obama "chastised his critics for telling 'lies,' employing 'scare tactics' and playing 'games'." Health care protesters have been suggesting reform will usher in death panels, forced euthanasia and mandatory abortions. It's these fabrications that President Obama "chastised his critics for" and this public scolding is not suppressing opposition, it's pleading for a rational one.

The Tea Party protests have similar irrationality. When protesters have pictures of Obama in white face, compare him to Hitler, call him a socialist (and aren't able to define the term), brandish firearms and have signs that read, "The American Taxpayers are Jews for Obama's Oven", it's difficult for educated people to take that movement seriously. Does such a movement deserve wide-spread media coverage? Does the media do the country a disservice by giving these arguments airtime and the credibility that airtime carries? Would Barone argue for more mainstream media coverage of another controversial movement he brought up - the "truthers" who believes the Bush Administration had prior knowledge of the attacks of Sept. 11th? I doubt it. I guess it's only suppression when Barone agrees with the opinion being ignored.

While I disagree whole heartedly with Barone on his premise that liberals suppress dissent, I am glad that we now both can finally agree that criticism of the president is not un-American. Barone was signing quite a different tune a few years back. I guess it's only un-American when Barone disagrees with the criticism.

Perhaps Barone will stay consistent on his views of dissent the next time conservatives hold power. I'm not holding my breath.