From Daniel Henninger at The Wall Street Journal, Joe Biden and the Moralizers:
Yes, we are learning again the high price of double standards and hypocrisy, which are always with us. But while the Democrats’ bucket brigades throw water on the Biden-Reade wildfire, look over there at something else that’s in flames. It is liberal progressivism’s nearly hundred-year-old strategy of using moral condescension as a crude weapon against its enemies.
A distinction is necessary. Morality is about right and wrong. Morality’s insincere cousin is moralism, which grabs virtue off the shelf as needed. About every 20 or 30 years, the progressives come up with another moralized argument to delegitimize their opponents.
Then, no longer content with isolating its opposition as its moral inferiors, the American left began to overreach. It targeted basic beliefs that had bipartisan support, such as the consensus about First Amendment free-speech protections. The campus speech codes arrived first but then came the mobs that shut down talks by conservative speakers, claiming they had moral justification for suppressing these speakers’ views on race, women and . . . pretty much anything.
This was an important turning point. Previously progressive condescension at least operated inside traditional moral categories. In recent years, it has decided it could get away with displacing even agreed-on norms of right and wrong with entirely novel claims, such as demoting centuries of due process for the accused with “believe the woman.”