March 16, 2012

CNN’s Burnett Lets Axelrod Dodge Question of Whether Dems Will Give Back Maher’s $1 Mil

From David Axelrod’s Magic Land of the Double Standard: “Cleanup attempt at CNN. Bring the hazmat suits.”

Tonight on CNN, as reported by several outlets (Mediaite, Politico, LA Times, but not the Associated Press, which as of 11:45 p.m. on Thursday hadn’t done a national story about Maher in 10 days), David Axelrod told Erin Burnett, in the process of dodging a question about whether an Obama Super-PAC would give back Bill Maher’s $1 million contribution, said that Maher’s outrageous, misogynist comments against mostly conservative women really aren’t as important as Rush Limbaugh’s one-time, apologized-for hits at Sandra Fluke:

Well, first of all, let me say there’s been a coarsening of our political culture. I don’t think that language is appropriate, no matter who uses it. And I think whoever you are in politics, you ought to be willing to say so. I was disappointed that Governor Romney didn’t stand up more forcefully when Rush Limbaugh said what he said.

But understand that these words that Maher has used in his standup act are a little bit different than — not excusable in any way — but different than a guy with 23 million radio listeners using his broadcast platform to malign a young woman for speaking her mind in the most inappropriate, grotesque ways.

Nor does Bill Maher play the role in the Democratic party that Rush Limbaugh plays in the Republican party, where he’s really the de facto boss of the party. Everybody responds to him, which is the reason why I think Governor Romney was afraid to take him on.

The horse manure is really deep here:

  • Maher has given Obama’s reelection campaign $1 million. If I recall correctly, Limbaugh deliberately doesn’t make political contributions to specific candidates. (If he did, it would more than likely have been big news for days, which is why I believe I’m correct). Yet Maher’s role in the Democratic Party really isn’t that relevant. Uh-huh.
  • On the vileness meter, what Maher has said about Sarah Palin is infinitely worse than what Rush said (proof: you can say “slut” on broadcast and generally accessible cable TV; you can’t say the “C-word”). As to the “public figure” argument, Sandra Fluke chose to become one when she chose to testify to a grandstanding, illegitimate gather of Democrats at a congressional non-hearing. It was not like she was subpoenaed for real by a genuine congressional committee. She essentially agreed to be a poster-child for a brazenly political exercise (which has backfired, bigtime).
  • It will be news to Rush that he is “the de facto boss of the party.” In fact, the party establishment routinely takes actions against what Limbaugh and a large percentage of his grass-roots audience would prefer.

Building on the last point, the latest issue of Rush’s newsletter, the Limbaugh Letter, has as its cover topic the fact that the GOP establishment is at war with its base. I am proud to point out that Rush used a column written by yours truly in early February as the starting point for his writeup.

I pointed to specific evidence from Utah, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio where the party is trying to marginalize tea party and social conservative challengers to protect incumbent moderates, and in some cases trying to derail the careers of successful activists who won elections in 2010. Rush nationalized the topic, among other things pointing out the following:

  • … There’s been abject panic whenever a non-Romney takes the lead.
  • … At root, these establishment Republicans are singularly worried about what other people (i.e., liberals) are going to think of them for being in the same Party with social conservatives. It really is no more complicated than that.
  • … In fact, I’m convinced that if the upcoming election could be decided on social issues, the Republicans would win in a landslide — because we’re on the right side of the culture war. The Republican establishment is scared to death of it.

So it’s news to all of us that Rush is “the de facto boss of the party.” Many in the party establishment openly loathe him, while others quietly work to undermine those who largely agree with him.

As to the “coarsening of our political culture” to which Axelrod refers, I might conceivably consider taking him seriously when all of the following occur:

  • The Super-PAC returns Bill Maher’s $1 million contribution (Shame on Erin Burnett for letting Axelrod off the set without answering that question).
  • His boss and other members of his administration who have done so publicly apologize for each and every one of their uses of the vulgar term “Teabagger” to describe the constitution-oriented conservatives who are tea party activists.
  • His boss publicly apologizes to Congressman Paul Ryan for inviting him to a speech and irresponsibly berating Ryan’s sensible proposals to rescue the government from fiscal Armageddon.

I surely won’t be waiting by the phone.

Cross-posted at


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