Lawyers often say that “when you can't argue the facts, argue the law. When you can't argue the law, argue the facts. When you can't argue either the facts or the law, start calling names.” New York Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, provided a textbook example of this maxim during an appearance Sunday on CNN's “State of the Union.” Responding to a question about a comment from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about GOP opposition to wholesale amnesty for illegal immigrants, Israel claimed that “to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are motivated by racism.”

Israel's libel of millions of decent Americans who happen to disagree with the presumptuous New York congressman is an all-too-typical example of how Democratic leaders routinely respond to Republican critics these days. Rather than engage in honest and serious debate on the merits of both sides' arguments, Democrats frequently attack Republican motives and engage in character assassination. Republicans who think border security should be the first priority in immigration policy, for example, aren't concerned about protecting the lives and property of Americans who live in the southern regions of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, they are “racists” who hate Hispanics.

Similarly, Republicans who support common-sense measures like requiring photo IDs for voting are often portrayed as heartless bigots. President Obama put it this way last week during a fundraising speech in Houston: “This recent effort to restrict the vote has not been led by both parties. It's been led by the Republican Party.” Obama did it again during the same speech, repeating the familiar canard of Republican callousness by claiming Republican governors opposed to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare do so “just out of political spite” and as a result “are leaving millions of people uninsured.”

The same tactic is on display whenever Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid mentions the Koch brothers, the most recent example being the illegal posting on his official website of a list of their alleged sins. The familiar menu of half-truths and misrepresentations includes the accusation that the Kochs support tax cuts not because they believe lower rates would promote more prosperity for a wider range of Americans, but simply to put more money in their own pockets.

Then there are those global warming “deniers” who Democratic leaders routinely accuse of refusing to admit that burning fossil fuels is destroying the atmosphere and creating a world-wide catastrophe that will kill hundreds of millions of people. The most recent example of this refusal to engage in honest discussion occurred when 30 Senate Democrats spent an entire night on the Senate floor attacking those who disagree with them.

Note, finally, that Israel was responding to Pelosi’s claim that she heard GOP immigration reform opponents “say to the Irish, ‘if it were just you, this would be easy.' ” That’s Pelosi’s contribution: If name-calling fails, tell outrageous lies that can’t be disproven. These people have no shame.