Human Events Blog

A few words from President Civility

President Obama held his first press conference in five months yesterday, in a bid to grab some media attention away from the Republican primaries on Super Tuesday.  After retailing more of the wonderful Obamanomic ideas that have somehow failed to lift America out of grinding unemployment, soaring gas prices, and general economic malaise, he settled down to some questions, and of course the subject of the dust-up between radio host Rush Limbaugh and leftist agitator Sandra Fluke was broached.

The most divisive President in history was as nasty and manipulative as ever:

You know I’m not going to comment on what sponsors decide to do. I’m not going to comment on either the economics or the politics of it. I don’t know what’s in Rush Limbaugh’s heart, so I’m not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology. What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse. 

(Emphasis mine.)  Anyone who still honestly believes Obama’s endless claims to be a “unifying” figure has got to be scratching his head at that one.  Apologies don’t matter unless you know what’s in someone’s heart?  Wouldn’t a truly unifying leader have said something like, “The remarks that were made were incendiary and in poor taste, but Mr. Limbaugh has apologized for using the objectionable words, and it’s time we got back to discussing the core issue of forcing Catholic institutions to pay for birth control?”

This one comment gets to the very heart of how the Left uses the concept of “civility” the way it uses everything else: as a political cudgel.  They’re always claiming to know what lurks in the hearts of both allies and enemies.  That’s why a liberal in good standing – like Bill Maher, to use a proximate example – is effortlessly excused for any amount of offensive language.  He has the right politics, so of course he doesn’t really harbor any misogynist tendencies, no matter how often he calls women he disagrees with a “slut,” or worse.  In the same vein, a liberal Democrat can never, ever be guilty of racism, no matter what he actually says. 

Conservatives and Republicans, on the other hand, are constantly emitting “dog whistles” and using sinister code words.  In fact, it’s been a major line of “thought” among the Left for many years that concepts like “tax cuts” and “government dependency” are merely coded appeals to racism.  It doesn’t matter what Rush Limbaugh actually said – and, as a quick reminder for anyone confused by mainstream media reporting, he did not “call Sandra Fluke a slut,” the way Bill Maher directly and clearly called Sarah Palin a “c**t”.  Limbaugh did use the word “slut” when satirizing the implications of Fluke’s demand for a thousand-dollar annual birth control subsidy, and has apologized for his use of the insulting word.  But since Barack Obama claims he can’t see into Limbaugh’s heart with sufficient clarity, his actual words don’t matter.  Rarely has the subjugation of discourse to raw political power been stated so plainly.

Obama went on to explain why he called Sandra Fluke to see how the 30-year-old professional activist was bearing up under the hellish weight of Limbaugh’s insult, a call Obama has yet to make to the families of those actually killed by his “Fast and Furious” gun-walking program:

And the reason I called Ms. Flute is because I thought about Malia and Sasha 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. And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re 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 our young people that being part of a democracy involves arguments 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’re a private citizen. 

The idea of this bitterly partisan man lecturing anyone on civility is risible.  His fundraising operation routinely demonizes the Koch brothers, private citizens who routinely “speak their minds in a civil and thoughtful way,” but are portrayed as villains because their opinions happen to disagree with Obama’s.  When a public citizen name Joe Wurzelbacher had a random encounter with Obama on the street, leading to one of Obama’s biggest stumbles of the 2008 campaign, Obama had absolutely no problem with the Democrat political machine tearing the poor guy to pieces, breaking Ohio laws in their zeal.

The President has encouraged supporters to “get in the faces” of their neighbors and “fight their enemies.”  When Democrats took grief at town-hall meetings over ObamaCare, the White House publicly advised them to “punch back twice as hard.”  This past Christmas, the White House offered to send taunting emails to the Republican friends of supporters, in exchange for a donation.

When a CNN reporter at yesterday’s press conference asked the President to condemn the incredibly divisive “War on Women” rhetoric deployed by the Democrat Party, he flatly refused to do so.  He certainly has no problem with other people’s sons being insulted as brutes by his political allies.

And he has absolutely no problem at all with other people’s daughters being called vile names by people with the correct politics.  A reporter from the Daily Caller asked Obama, “Should Bill Maher apologize for what he said about Republicans?  Should The Roots apologize for what they said about Bachmann?”  (The latter is a reference to a band that played a song called “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” when Rep. Bachmann took the stage for a talk-show appearance.)

Not only did Obama refuse to answer the question, or call upon his Super PAC to return Maher’s million-dollar donation, but the Daily Caller’s question was stricken from the official White House transcript of the press conference.

This debate is not about “civility.”  It’s about power.  It’s all about controlling speech, and crushing ideas.  The level of revulsion for words like “slut” depends wholly and entirely on the politics of the speaker, and the politics of the target.  In hyper-politicized America, “civility” is not a set of evenly applied rules.  It’s a cudgel, and the Democrats hold it with a white-knuckled grip.

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