Commentary Magazine


Topic: Kirsten Powers

Re: Liberals and the Race Card

As a brief follow-up to Pete’s excellent post on liberals and race, the Daily Beast’s Kirsten Powers pushed back against the canard that GOP opposition to Susan Rice is racially motivated by calling out one of her fellow liberals, MSNBC talker Touré, on Twitter this morning. Noah Rothman at Mediaite has the full Twitter debate between the two, which ends in a fairly devastating victory for Powers.

Touré bases his case on the fact that John McCain called Susan Rice “incompetent,” which Touré decided was racial code. Powers tweeted back the following, which so far has elicited only silence from Touré:

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As a brief follow-up to Pete’s excellent post on liberals and race, the Daily Beast’s Kirsten Powers pushed back against the canard that GOP opposition to Susan Rice is racially motivated by calling out one of her fellow liberals, MSNBC talker Touré, on Twitter this morning. Noah Rothman at Mediaite has the full Twitter debate between the two, which ends in a fairly devastating victory for Powers.

Touré bases his case on the fact that John McCain called Susan Rice “incompetent,” which Touré decided was racial code. Powers tweeted back the following, which so far has elicited only silence from Touré:

(@Katrinanation is the Twitter handle of the Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel.) This is the problem with the left’s strategy of accusing opponents of racism for just about anything. Pete mentioned the ridiculous suggestion from Chris Matthews that referring to the Obama campaign as “Chicago” because of its location was racist code. Of course, the Romney campaign certainly didn’t coin this shorthand; the campaign merely followed the press’s habit of referring to each campaign by its headquartered city. But even more, “old white Republicans” aren’t the only people who use the word Chicago, of course.

And, as Touré discovered today, “old white Republicans” aren’t the only ones who use the word “incompetent.” That’s the trouble with the left’s “dog whistles”–when universally applied, they make everyone racist. And that, as Pete wrote earlier, strips the term of all significance. Good for Powers for holding her side to account.

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Liberal Double Standards

Kirsten Powers is a woman of liberal leanings but impressively independent judgments. That was demonstrated again with her recent column in The Daily Beast, in which she takes to task what she calls “the army of swine on the left” who are engaging in a “war on women.”

In the words of Powers, “Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.” She provides chapter and verse on all five men, but declares that the “grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher.” That would be the same Bill Maher who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC. So I wonder: Do you think Obama, who has placed himself in the middle of the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy, will be hounded by the press about Maher’s comments in light of his contributions? And why, by the way, are Limbaugh’s comments getting so much media attention while Maher’s comments have been overlooked, accepted, or even bring a knowing smile to the faces of some journalists, many of whom seem eager to appear on his program?

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Kirsten Powers is a woman of liberal leanings but impressively independent judgments. That was demonstrated again with her recent column in The Daily Beast, in which she takes to task what she calls “the army of swine on the left” who are engaging in a “war on women.”

In the words of Powers, “Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.” She provides chapter and verse on all five men, but declares that the “grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher.” That would be the same Bill Maher who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC. So I wonder: Do you think Obama, who has placed himself in the middle of the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy, will be hounded by the press about Maher’s comments in light of his contributions? And why, by the way, are Limbaugh’s comments getting so much media attention while Maher’s comments have been overlooked, accepted, or even bring a knowing smile to the faces of some journalists, many of whom seem eager to appear on his program?

It’s not sufficient to say that Limbaugh is far more prominent than Maher, especially as Maher is now one of the larger financial supporters of President Obama.

We all know what’s going on here. The left, by and large, can say things about their political opponents that are cruel and defamatory and mostly get away with it, while those on the right are called on the carpet. That’s not true in every case, but it’s certainly true often enough to draw a reasonable conclusion.

What we have a right to expect is even-handedness rather than glaring double standards. My guess is that for many journalists and commentators, what’s happening is less a conscious bias than a sub-conscious one. When conservative women are savaged by liberal men, it’s boys will be boys/politics ain’t beanbag/sticks and stones may break my bones. But when liberal women are savaged by conservative men, it’s an assault on reason, decency and civilized standards. This is what Powers seems to be arguing, and for a woman who leans left to make that case in such an ironclad way is a tribute to her even as it’s an indictment of many in her profession.

 

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