Bleeding heart
audcat
Looking for the origin of the term, "bleeding heart liberal". Any thoughts?
Lewis Joplin II
BLEEDING HEARTS - "An ultraconservative view of ultraliberals, as those whose 'hearts bleed' for the poor, who are 'suckers' for every 'sob story,' and who place tax burdens on all in a mistaken effort to cure social ills. The liberal who is so labeled considers the one who calls him a 'bleeding heart' to be reactionary...The conservative who urges a cutback of welfare programs often prefaces his remarks with 'This will be met with cries of anguish from the bleeding hearts, but...' The expression was introduced into political usage in the thirties by columnist Westbrook Pegler...Its origin may be the Order of the Bleeding Heart, a semireligious order of the Middle Ages honoring the Virgin Mary, whose 'heart was pierced with many sorrows.'... By the 1990s the term was applied more broadly and, not without irony, even to ultraconservatives. In April 1990, U.S. News and World Report described New York Federal Judge Robert Sweet as being 'no bleeding heart when it comes to meting out rough sentences.'..." From "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).
Frank Pierce
In widespread usage for many years has been the term "My heart bleeds for you", perhaps first said in all sincerity to mean you have my deepest sympathy. Later it took on an ironic or sarcastic aura.

Thus Pegler was probably responding to a public caricature of the pseudo-sympathetic liberal whose stock in trade was a public profession of his deepest and most painful sympathy for any and all who might have a vote.

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