Monday, May 11, 2009

The hypocrisy and non-controversy surrounding this weekend's Washington correspondents dinner

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh says:

Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.

Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.--Response to a black caller he was having a hard time understanding in the 1970s, when he worked under the name "Jeff Christie" on a Top 40 station in Pittsburgh (as quoted in Newsday (8 October 1990) where he expresses some remorse at having said it)

Too many whites are getting away with drug use...Too many whites are getting away with drug sales...The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too.--(5 October 1995); also quoted in The Palm Beach Post (7 December 2003)

Hugo, Cesar — whatever. A Chavez is a Chavez. We've always had problems with them.

This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we're going to ruin people's lives over it, and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people. You ever see what Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage. Maybe I'm — yeah, and get an NEA grant for something like this.--On the Abu Ghraib Prison Abuse Scandal (3 May 2004)

I'm going to tell you, what's good for al-Qaeda is good for the Democratic Party in this country today. That's how you boil this down. And it doesn't have to be al-Qaeda. What's good for terrorists is good for John Kerry. All you got to do is check the way they react.--(15 March 2004)

I mean, let's face it, we didn't have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I'm not
saying we should bring it back; I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark
.--As quoted in 101 People who are REALLY Screwing Up America (2006) by Jack Huberman

Screw the world. Do you really think we ought to govern ourselves based on what
the world thinks of us?--
Response to a caller pointing out riots he incites would make America look bad; April 23, 2008
Comedian Wanda Sykes says:

Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails," Sykes said. "So you're saying, 'I hope America fails', you're, like, 'I don't care about people losing their homes, their jobs, our soldiers in Iraq'. He just wants the country to fail. To me, that's treason He's not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker. But he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight.

Rush Limbaugh says, 'I hope the country fails.' I hope his kidneys fail, how about that? He needs a good waterboarding, that's what he needs.

Some on the right say that Sykes went too far in her comic attack on Limbaugh, delivered at this weekend's Washington Correspondents Association dinner. Predictably, they are salty about the smackdown of Limbaugh and Sarah Palin:

Gov. Palin, she’s not here tonight, she pulled out at the last minute. Somebody should tell her, that’s not really how you practice abstinence.


But even some mainstream media pundits are tight-jawed about the comic's routine. ABC News has a round-up of the debate here.

The annual Washington correspondents' dinner is known as an event where the president gets a chance to take some jabs at the media, political rivals and himself, and a chosen comedian gets to lob some shots at the government and mainstream media, too. Most times it's just harmless fun, but the "edgier" the comedian, the more likely he or she will land a blow that actual stings...bad. (Remember Stephen Colbert's brilliant turn at the event?) The annual correspondents dinner is like a Friar's Club Roast without the profanity and maybe half of the mean-spiritedness. And few would argue that the government and media bigwigs who attend the fete each year don't need a little prick to the ego from time to time. So, given the usual tenor of the annual correspondents dinner, why the controversy over Sykes' saucy routine?

First, I don't think there is a controversy, though even the liberal talk station I listen to every morning insists there is. A quick Google and review of the ABC piece reveals that the only folks het up about Wanda Sykes' act are some conservatives who can always be relied upon to 1) hate anything that goes on during Obama's tenure, and 2) be self-serious and humorless, and a handful of pundits who 1) are manufacturing and debating the supposed "controversy" in their own echo chamber, and 2) well, see point two about conservatives. (I mean Pat Buchanan...Pat offended?)

Secondly, about my friends on the right...more disengenuous outrage I have never seen. (Well, I have, actually. The right does disengenuous outrage like no one else.) If conservatives are willing to let a person who routinely and without humor or irony, makes hateful, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, ugly and hypocritical statements like the ones above be the de facto spokesperson and leader of their movement, surely nothing that Wanda Sykes says could truly offend them. Limbaugh himself is an offense--one that the right and the Republican Party abide and abet.

Me thinks all the "controversy" may have more to do with who gets to say what about whom. Know what I mean?

Recall that when Don Imus branded the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team "nappy, headed hoes," Pat Buchanan decried the reaction as a "lynching party" with eager detractors "rejoicing around the cottonwood tree." But now Uncle Pat fears Sykes will irreparably damage the annual correspondent's dinner. Hmmm...

Here is Sykes' routine in full:

The Prez was pretty, damned funny, too:


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