In 2007, amid intense debates about the war in Iraq, MoveOn.org placed an ad in the New York Times criticizing General David Petraeus for some of the arguments he was making about the war. In a not-so-clever bit of punning, they referred to him as "General Betray Us." The response was furious. The controversy dominated the news for days, and both houses of Congress passed resolutions condemning the ad, with many Democrats joining Republicans to express their outrage at MoveOn's action (there's a good summary here, if you want to remind yourself of the details).
I raise the MoveOn ad because of a new billboard campaign from the Heartland Institute, one of the foremost climate change denial outfits in existence. Behold:
It's just one of a series that includes Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. As Heartland reasonably explains, "Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants." Well, not all, sure, but maybe most? Yeah, probably.
The Heartland Institute billboards and the 2007 MoveOn ad are not the same in every way, but they do illustrate some important differences between the right and the left. You can bet there will be no congressional resolutions passing by wide majorities condemning Heartland. There will be no Republicans rushing to distance themselves from the organization. It isn't that the left isn't capable of stirring up outrage, but it doesn't cast its net as wide as the right, and it doesn't have such a direct line to people in power who take that outrage and use whatever institutional means they have to amplify it. And the right just doesn't get spooked by people on their side saying things that are controversial or even crazy.