Gerson lashes out at straw-man

GERSON LASHES OUT AT STRAW-MAN…. The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson has an angry column today, blasting “liberals” and “Democrats” for “criticizing Sarah Palin’s religion.”

…Democrats and their liberal allies set out a self-destructive mixed message. Democratic politicians press their appeal to blue-collar workers and the working poor — while liberal intellectuals and pundits express their disdain for the religious values and motivations of the poor and middle class themselves. While most religious people in America don’t speak in tongues, many pray for healing in times of sickness and trouble, and most are offended when sneering elites attack the religious practices of their friends and neighbors. And it is even more insulting when the argument is made that “pocketbook” issues will somehow override a man or woman’s deepest beliefs.

Gerson concludes by expressing his disgust for those who have been “deriding Palin’s religion.”

And who, pray tell, has been “criticizing” Palin’s faith, “deriding” her spiritual beliefs, and expressing “disdain” for her religious values? I have no idea — Gerson didn’t tell me.

Indeed, he wrote an 800-word piece chastising “liberals” and “Democrats” for their religious insensitivities, and proceeded to list exactly zero examples to bolster his case. Gerson literally couldn’t point to a single person who has said a single discouraging word about Palin’s faith.

In fact, the best Gerson could do to bolster his case is point to an unnamed media figure who described Palin’s former Pentecostal church as a “shout-and-holler tabernacle.” It turns out, the phrase came from a piece by Christopher Hitches, who is neither a Democrat nor a liberal.

What we’re left with is a bizarre column in the Washington Post blasting straw-man bigots who exist in Gerson’s imagination.

Gerson thinks Democrats and liberals are mocking Palin for her faith. Maybe he even went to Google to try to find some examples. But he came up empty, and couldn’t back up his hunch with evidence.

For reasons that remain unclear, Gerson wrote the column anyway.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.