The Annals of Chutzpah Have Never Produced Anything Like This

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 10, 2012

Taking it as a given–which I have no problem doing–that Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke were stupid, offensive, and disgusting, I still find it amazing that port-siders seem to think that they have any standing whatsoever to lecture the rest of us about good manners, common decency, and civility in our political discourse.

After all, at best, the overwhelming majority of these people either stood idly by while the likes of Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Ed Schultz, Matt Taibbi, and Chris Matthews made insulting, offensive, and yes, misogynistic comments about women on the starboard side. And now, the overwhelming majority of them are busy making excuses for the likes of Maher, Olbermann, Schultz, and Matthews, swearing up and down that their actions cannot be compared to Limbaugh’s.

Of course, as Nick Gillespie points out, that excuse won’t wash. But it says something that one segment of the political divide seems so determined to make it. And it says something that the attempts to differentiate between Limbaugh’s comments on the one hand, and Maher’s, Olbermann’s, Schultz’s, Taibbi’s and Matthews’s on the other are so lame. Gillespie highlights the arguments of Timothy Noah, who tells us that since Limbaugh is supposedly in a leadership position in the Republican party, and is supposedly feared by other Republicans, that makes his comments more reprehensible, somehow. If you accept his premise–and I do not, but never mind–the import of Noah’s argument is that if you are less politically powerful than Rush Limbaugh, you somehow have greater license to make misogynistic comments.

Raise your hands if you actually buy that.

No hands up? Splendid. Presumably, we can also dispense with Noah’s argument that if you are a public figure, and also a female, you are somehow fair game for misogynistic comments. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am fully prepared to state that this is one of the dumbest arguments I have heard in a while.

The weakness of these efforts to differentiate between Limbaugh on the one side, and his counterparts on the Left doesn’t stop people like Bill Burton from trying. Notice that Burton has very little unkind to say about Maher and company, despite the fact that they clearly engaged in bad behavior. This comes as no surprise; Maher just dropped a cool million into the laps of President Obama’s Super PAC, and Burton doesn’t want to anger one of Team Obama’s sugar daddies. But can anyone imagine Burton or the rest of the Obama campaign remaining silent if Maher happened to hold center-right views, said nasty things about women on the Left, and gave a million dollars to the Romney Super PAC, even if in this alternative universe, Maher’s influence was no greater than his influence in the universe we inhabit?

Neither can I. Limbaughesque or not, supposed “de facto leader of the Republican party” or not, in this alternative universe, Maher would have been ruthlessly attacked by the Obama campaign. As would Romney for taking his money and accepting his support. As would the entire center-right movement as a whole. That should be plain as day.

Amazingly enough, many of the very same denizens who pontificate about civility sought to invite Louis C.K. to the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner. Fortunately, they thought better of it, and dropped him from the dinner, but only after people like Greta Van Susteren raised a fuss. In case you are wondering what Louis C.K. said in the past to offend, well, read Van Susteren’s post. You’ll get the idea. I guess we will be told soon that this really isn’t a big deal, because Louis C.K. is not Rush Limbaugh, and that only Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic statements matter, and that misogynistic statements directed at conservative women don’t matter at all, since the women in question are either conservative and public figures, or just conservative, and ought to be attacked for the ideological orientation alone.

Rounding out this sorry spectacle, Keith Olbermann offers the World’s Worst Apology to women he offended. And speaking of bad behavior of a different kind, we discover that Ed Schultz’s opinions are for sale, something that Ed Schultz apparently didn’t bother to tell anyone in his viewing and listening audience.

It goes without saying that most port-side commentators–including the serially dishonest liberal blogosphere–will make no mention of any of this bad behavior at all.

Again, who are these people to lecture the rest of us about how we ought to behave, and how we should achieve civility?

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