“The harshness, self-righteousness and simple-mindedness of these responses belie the left’s self-image as intellectually sophisticated and tolerant of other viewpoints”

So writes James Taranto of the enraged lefty response in last night’s debate in “Why They Cheered” to Rick Perry’s assertion of justice in Texas at so many executions.

A recap:

Perhaps the most striking statement at last night’s Republican presidential debatecame not from Rick Perry or Mitt Romney but from the audience, which applauded the preface of one of moderator Brian Williams’s questions. Here’s how it looked in the transcript:

Williams: Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you . . .

(APPLAUSE)

Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?Perry answered: “No sir,” pointed out that death-row convicts are entitled to extensive appeals, and crisply declared: “In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice.”

Williams then asked Perry to explain the audience’s reaction to Williams’s question: “What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?”

Although Williams surely did not intend it as such, this question was a gift for Perry, who got to reiterate his position while flattering voters by praising their wisdom: “I think Americans understand justice. I think Americans are clearly, in the vast majority of–of cases, supportive of capital punishment. When you have committed heinous crimes against our citizens–and it’s a state-by-state issue, but in the state of Texas, our citizens have made that decision, and they made it clear, and they don’t want you to commit those crimes against our citizens. And if you do, you will face the ultimate justice.”

Leftists everywhere were aghast, agape and agog.

Brian Williams was far from alone in being vexed by the audience’s applause. “That crowd cheering for all of Rick Perry’s executions was truly creepy,” tweeted Glenn Greenwald, an expert on creepiness. “Any crowd that instantly cheers the execution of 234 individuals is a crowd I want to flee, not join,” wrote the excitable Andrew Sullivan. “This is the crowd that believes in torture and executions.” (Sullivan is hallucinating again. No jurisdiction in America employs torture as a criminal penalty.)

Blogger E.D. Kain adds: “When Perry is asked about the two-hundred and thirty some people he’s executed on death row during his governorship, the audience bursts into applause. Torture, war, and death, and this is the ‘pro-life’ party. I submit to you that this moment is perhaps the most telling since George W. Bush left office; that the modern Republican party is not only intellectually bankrupt, but morally bankrupt as well.”

Morally bankrupt, eh? We’re not the party of abortion on demand. It never fails to amaze that lefties will so easily condemn an innocent life to death for no reason save conception, while a cop killer deserves to live. Really? We’re the party of moral bankruptcy?

I will savor the righteous indignation on the left once abortion comes up–and you know it will–in another debate. How will they excoriate the cheers then? Damn those morally bankrupt people for cheering on a baby’s right to live! How dare these evil people imply that a fetus has any right to life? Cretins, every last one–don’t they know that the millions of babies who die annually deserve it?

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