Debbie Wasserman Schultz Has a Good Point

by on January 2nd, 2015
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While being interviewed by “Fox and Friends” host Gretchen Carlson, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) — the chair of the Democratic National Committee — made a good point about whether President Barack Obama or other leaders of the Democratic Party (like herself) should denounce Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa for his now-famous Labor Day statement:

“We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere: It is the Tea Party. And you know, there’s only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner: It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America! We’re going to win that war … President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of a bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.”

Wasserman Schultz first pushed Carlson’s question aside by insisting that the American people were more concerned about job creation. Carlson, undeterred, pressed the issue, and Wasserman Schultz replied:

“Are you kidding me? Really? You take a walk with me through some of the Tea Party rallies … I’d love to ask you a question … Gretchen? How many times have you called out the coarse language at tea party rallies on this network? Almost never. I’ve never heard you or anyone — or any other of your anchors call out coarse language.”

I don’t know whether Carlson and her show do a good job of impartially denouncing name-calling, whether it comes from liberals or conservatives. But I’m betting that Wasserman Schultz is right, and that they don’t do a good job of it, because most politicians and pundits don’t do a good job of denouncing name-calling impartially.

This is such a good point, though, that it can equally be applied to Wasserman Schultz herself: She’s made her own pronouncements about the need for civility — in particular, as Carlson mentions, after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and several others:

“It’s our responsibility, whether we’re Democrats or Republicans, whether we agree or disagree, to remember we’re Americans first, and that words have an impact … We don’t know when the words we’ve chosen will send someone whose psyche is frayed to begin with, over the edge. … Maybe we can all come together and push the shock jocks and the media, who pride themselves in whipping people into a frenzy on both sides, not to do that anymore”.

But, just like people on the right routinely ignore invective from their own side, Wasserman Schultz casts a blind eye to the demonizing from the left. More than that, though, she contributes to it: Here and here and here and here and here and here.

As is typical with politicians, they preach civility, don’t act in accordance with it, and then try to avoid responsibility for failing to practice what they preach. If you’re a politician who is being questioned about whether you’re living up to your commitment to civil debate, you’ll typically duck the question in one of two ways:

1. Bring up how you’ve been a victim of name-calling (as if that somehow proves you aren’t also a perpetrator of it);

2. Bring up how your opponents fail to impartially denounce name-calling (as if that somehow proves that you aren’t also guilty of doing the same).

Wasserman Schultz employs the second one, although she also treated us to another evasion: “The American people want us to focus on jobs”. So? Why can’t Americans want both jobs and civility? It’s not like the two are incompatible.

This, unfortunately, is what we’re stuck with. We have politicians who use the hypocrisy and incivility of their opponents as cover to distract from their own hypocrisy and incivility. Thanks to DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz for illustrating that point.

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