Friday, March 09, 2012

Keeping Everyone Satisfied

He really does have a way about him.      And it is very, very impressive.

Liberals were pleased when President Obama waded in on the Limbaugh controversy Tuesday by stating

I can comment on the fact that all good folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse. And you know, the reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about my daughters, and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way… I do not want them attacked or called horrible names because they are being good citizens, and I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all of our young people that being part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate, and we want you to be engaged, and there’s a way to do it that doesn’t involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you are a private citizen.

Rush- if not by name- criticized.    Women everywhere defended.     Hooray!

It was such a carefully crafted statement, moreover, GOP TV's Kirsten Powers approved.    While attacking liberals, she argued

President Obama has seen fit to wade into the Limbaugh kerfuffle, even telling reporters Tuesday that Limbaugh’s behavior was an attack on everyone’s daughter and “I do not want them attacked or called horrible names.” Speaking of daughters, do you remember when Bill Maher said that the real name of then-20-year-old Bristol Palin’s book should be “Whoops, There’s a Dick in Me?”

Powers cleverly focused on the President's revulsion at Limbaugh using "horrible names," but no one ever accused Barack Obama of being a careless speechwriter or speaker.          The primary problem with Limbaugh's remarks was not his use of the terms "slut" and "prostitute," as reprehensible as that was, despite the President's reference to "horrible names."       Rather, during his three days of pleasuring himself with frequent talk of sex- including demanding that Fluke post sex videos online- Limbaugh made what Think Progress has documented as (and posted video of, below) "seventy sexist smears."       And that's not including Limbaugh falsely arguing:  House Democrats foisted Fluke on the committee as "a trick"; Democrats want to make taxpayers pay for the sexual promiscuity of Fluke and her colleagues; the DHS policy constitutes an attack upon the Catholic Church; birth control is a "welfare program"; or thatin crossing the line he "acted too much like the leftists who despise" him and "descended to their level."

Or that Rush almost daily spews racial bigotry and daily lies to his huge audience.

None of that was mentioned by the President, who boldly refused "to comment on either the economics or the politics of it" because "I don't know what's in Rush Limbaugh's heart, so I'm not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology."

And so Kirsten Powers and her merry band of Republicans can, while conceding that Rush used offensive terminology, (almost credibly) contend that liberals are meanies too; for they also use bad names.     But they should be excused (as surely Obama would agree) when merely taking advantage of a loophole the President carefully carved out in his measured outrage.

This tactic ought to be trademarked by President Obama.      His remarks in January 2011 at the memorial service of the victims of the shootings in Tucson, Arizona featured

And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy -- it did not -- but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.(Applause.)

We should be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords...    

A lack of civility?    More civil and honest public discourse?    Jared Loughner took a Glock 19 pistol with two high-capacity 33 round magazines, fired 31 rounds, killed six people and wounded 13 individuals.     The high capacity magazines, prohibited until an assault weapons ban expired seven years earlier

"gave him a tactical advantage,” said one federal law enforcement official who asked for anonymity. Referring to high-capacity magazines, the official said, “There’s absolutely no doubt the magazines increased the lethality and the body count of this attack.” 

Afterward and beyond, President Obama said this about gun violence enabled by a national obsession with "gun rights":

Nothing.    In Tucson, he said nothing of significance except some blather about "civility," our mortality, and rain puddles in Heaven, after which conservatives attacked liberals for being "uncivil" because they are unkind.

But that's Barack Obama's way.   Respond to the spirit of the moment but avoid saying anything that might offend, spark a national debate, or lead to reform.      Combine that strategy with policies which extend tax breaks for the most privileged, strengthen the national security state, enable the financial sector to continue to threaten the world economy, weaken Social Security and Medicare, and sooner or later, you get a president who damages the cause of progressive change.



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