The Dog Ate His Homework
Tim Rutten, a Los Angeles Times columnist I often disagree with but one I read regularly, provided his take in today's issue. I'm not so sure I buy all of his analysis on why Saltsman's move was such a sad statement of that part of the Republican Party, but his comments on context as important in discussions (or humor) on race are certainly worthwhile considering. Frankly, I much prefer fart jokes to Polack jokes, but I have been known to tell both. That said, however, Mr. Rutten does bring out one part of the story that I hadn't considered: the pathetic excuses Mr. Saltsman and his cronies are using to justify the crude gifts.
What Republican leaders choose to make of Saltsman's sense of the antic is an intramural matter. The defense he has mustered isn't. He is huffing that "liberal Democrats and their allies in the media didn't utter a word about David Ehrenstein's irresponsible column in the Los Angeles Times last March. But now, of course, they're shocked and appalled by its parody on 'The Rush Limbaugh Show.' ... I know that our party leaders should stand up against the media's double standards and refuse to pander to their desire for scandal."
Oh, what would we do without our shibboleths? The liberal media? Double standards? This being a nostalgic season, whatever happened to the Eastern Establishment? Oh, that's right, the Bushes are card-carrying members. Oh, well.
Does Saltsman really believe that Gingrich, current RNC Chairman Mike Duncan and the heads of GOP state committees in places as different as Florida and North Dakota -- all of whom have pronounced themselves appalled by his bad judgment -- are dupes of the liberal media's double standards?
How sad. The best Mr. Saltsman can muster in his own defense is a cross between "but he said it, too, and you didn't complain," and the non-apology ploy, which in this case runs something like "I'm sorry you were offended by my tasteless and racist joke." Children caught red-handed say things like this until they reach some level of maturity and can admit their wrongdoing. Apparently Mr. Saltsman (and his cronies, and Rush Limbaugh) haven't reached all of their developmental milestones.
What is particularly disturbing, however, is that party luminaries such as Newt Gingrich appear to be more appalled at Saltsman's "poor judgement" than his racism. I know, I know: this shouldn't surprise me. But it does. It also saddens me deeply.
When Barack Obama gave his speech on race, declaring it time for a national dialogue on the issue, I'm pretty sure he hadn't planned on something like this. I guess we have to start somewhere. I just wish it hadn't been at this level.