I was at a dinner recently where I happened to be seated at a table with new acquaintances of the liberal political persuasion.
We went around the table introducing ourselves. As I said that I work for a “conservative website,” a man at the far end of the table made his displeasure known by booing. He wasn’t kidding.
These were professional, accomplished, senior members of the community. They had never met a conservative before. Their first reaction was hostile. No one chided the man who booed, or apologized on his behalf for his rudeness, or laughed to break the tension.
Instead, I began to face questions: you really support what Boehner is doing?
Yes, I replied. He’s doing the right thing by standing up to the president. Gasps.
Look, I said, trying to be diplomatic. I understand how Democrats see this. Democrats believe that these extremists have taken over the Republican Party, and they don’t like government much anyway, and–
“They can’t stand the fact that a black man is in the White House!” someone interjected.
That’s not true, I said. Oh, yes it is, they said.
Ok. Why don’t we put that thought in a box for now–we’ll come back to it, I offered. Let me finish. From a conservative Republican perspective, it’s necessary to stand up to Obama because he is doing things that no president should do, not just in policy terms but also in violating the constitutional separation of powers.
That stunned them. “What? You really believe that? Like what?”
Delaying the employer mandate under Obamacare, for instance, without statutory authority.
Oh, you Republicans and your business friends should like that.
No, actually, I don’t. And it’s just the start…
The conversation was cut short by the sound of a glass tapping at the next table, for a toast. We never did come back to the question of whether I was a racist who could not stand a black man as president.
I doubt these folks thought of themselves as mean people. But I am certain many other conservatives have had similar interactions among liberals in elite, polite society. Worldly as they are, they have no clue.