DUSTY RHOADES: Stop Hanging Radical Nuts Around Political Parties' Necks
To all my good friends in the right wing: I have a deal to offer you.
First, a bit of background. As you know, recently Vice President Dick Cheney visited Afghanistan to confer with commanders there. While he was there, a suicide car-bomber attacked the base where Cheney was staying. The vice president wasn't hurt; however, a number of others, including American soldiers and Afghan civilians, were killed or wounded.
When the news broke on the liberal blog The Huffington Post, some readers went waaay over the top. Like many online sites, The Huffington Post provides a space after news stories in which readers are invited to comment on the articles.
Some of the comments on the Cheney bombing story were, indeed, disgraceful. "They missed?? Dammit. I hope they try again before he leaves." "Better luck next time!" And so on. Several other commenters were quick to deplore such sentiments: "C'mon, guys, let's have a little bit of honor, no one deserves to die in a bomb blast."
The moderators of the site quickly removed the offensive comments, but not before right-wing pundits and bloggers gleefully dutifully copied them down and spread them farther across the Internet than HuffPo, as it's known, could ever have done. Rather than note the fact that the majority of comments did not wish Cheney dead or the fact that the owners of the site took the offending comments off, wingnut commentator Hugh Hewitt called HuffPo "the one indispensable stop for readers wishing to sample the fury, bile and idiocy of the sub-moronic left."
"Liberals wish assassins had succeeded!" trumpeted Rush Limbaugh. The idea was that a few angry nutballs hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet and posting on someone else's site not only reflected the opinions of the owners of the site, but that they epitomized liberals in general.
A few days later, right-wing harpy Ann Coulter was speaking at the yearly Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. She had some glowing words for Mitt Romney, Massachusetts governor and current presidential candidate. "I think he's probably our best candidate," Coulter said. Romney also spoke highly of Coulter.
When it came to former senator and current presidential candidate John Edwards, however, Coulter was less complimentary: "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards." She also said about African-American Republican candidates: "Our blacks are better than their blacks."
Now, if Barbra Streisand or Harry Belafonte or Michael Moore had called George Dubbya Bush that nasty name and made condescending comments about "our blacks," not only would the right-wingers have thrown a hissy fit, but the "journalists" of the so-called liberal media would also have leaped into the fray, brows furrowed with fake concern over the "tone the Democrats were setting" and demanding that, for example, Barack Obama comment on things he didn't say. After all, they've done it many times before.
But it's a bit much to hope for that the mainstream media were going to demand the same level of accountability for "tone" to the Republicans that they de-mand of the Democrats. It was left up to people like Howard Dean and Ted Kennedy to de-mand that Republican candidates Romney, McCain and Giuliani, who were all at the meeting, dissociate themselves from Coulter.
Republican supporters scoffed. They denied that there ever was any slur and called the demand for candidates to disown Coulter "disingenuous" and "political grandstanding" -- until their candidates cut the legs out from under them by providing just the declarations their supporters deemed unnecessary.
"The comments were wildly inappropriate," a spokesman for John McCain said. And Romney, so recently a Coulter cheer-leader, released this terse statement: "It was an offensive remark. Gov. Romney believes all people should be treated with dignity and respect." Rudolph Giuliani also called the com-ments "completely inapprop-riate" and went on to say that "there should be no place for such name-calling in political debate." Good for them, I say.
But you know what? When you really think about it, maybe it is a little silly to expect the main-stream of either party to apologize or to take the blame for inflammatory remarks of their hotheads or their lunatic fringe.
And so, my modest proposal: Stop hanging Michael Moore or Rosie O'Donnell or David Geffen or Barbra Streisand or Harry Belafonte or even some obscure Muslim cleric around the necks of the Democrats, and I'll stop hanging Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin around the necks of Republicans.
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes and practices law in Carthage.
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