Peter Wehner's Commentary magazine article, excerpted in the Wall Street Journal, offers a list of the ad hominem insults aimed at Republicans during the government shutdown:
Republicans are being referred to as jihadists, arsonists, anarchists, terrorists, extortionists, racists, gun-to-the-head hostage takers, grave threats to American democracy, the heirs of Joe McCarthy . . . people with a bomb strapped to their chest.
In his Boston Globe column titled In N.Y., "Capitol: The ecstasy of destruction," James Carroll repeats much of this list, adding a new one, comparing "Tea Party extremists" to the "swarm" of a biker gang that threatened tourists in New York City last week. In the words of the column's subtitle, "Motorcycle gangs wreak havoc-literally in N.Y., figuratively in D.C."
Rationality evaporates. The expression of anger becomes an end in itself, and justifies actions that can only result in sorrow. An overrunning mob of bikers in hot pursuit of a terrified fugitive family evokes not mere rebellion, but complete social breakdown.
Of course, anarchy can take more than one form. In Washington, a pack of Republicans hijacked the American government last week, no less nihilistically than the cycle gang in the daylight nightmare that unfolded on the streets of New York...
The Tea Party extremists are no doubt in thrall to their own collective effervescence, the ecstasy of energy unleashed without any regard for its destructiveness. They have roared into the public square, making civil discourse impossible, shaking the civic order, and giving expression to nothing except the rage by which they themselves have been taken hostage.
Peter Wehner rightly concludes that this "sulfuric rhetoric" is "on a deep level damaging to our country." It's also tiresome stuff, on par with, "your mother wears Army boots." It's the taunting of bullies accustomed to controlling the schoolyard, who get enraged if someone stands up to them.
Sorry, Mr. Carroll, Democrats and Republicans are engaged in an essential debate about the size of government. This is democracy in action. Sadly, your response is to smear the elected Senators and Congressmen who disagree with you. Have you no shame, sir?