Commentary Magazine


Topic: the promise

A Firing Offense?

Sarah Palin has called for Rahm Emanuel to be fired because several months ago Emanuel reportedly told liberals they were “f—ing retarded” for planning to air attack ads against conservative Democrats opposed to health-care reform.

I’m certainly no great fan of Emanuel. I was concerned when he was named chief of staff. (“It’s fair to say,” I wrote in November 2008, “… that if Rahm Emanuel is chosen as chief of staff, the promise of a new and more uplifting era in politics may be revealed as a mirage. If Emanuel embodies the ‘new politics’ of the Obama era, it may well make the old politics seem like a garden party.”) And I think the Obama presidency has been, with a few exceptions, a train wreck. But calling on Emanuel to be fired is not appropriate and, to my mind, it is not even serious.

I can understand people, especially those with special needs children, objecting to the use of the word “retarded.” Fine: then make that case in a calm, reasonable way. But trying to turn this incident into a firing offense is badly misguided. This is the kind of thing the Left does routinely; it is an outgrowth of the Politically Correct movement, which has done a lot of damage to public discourse.

To try to use Emanuel’s words against him as political payback is unwise and unfair. If a conservative had said the same thing as Emanuel, I can’t help thinking that Palin would not be calling on him or her to step down.

It seems to me that Ms. Palin needs to convince people that she is an intelligent, reassuring, intellectually serious public figure. Things like this don’t help her make that case.

Sarah Palin has called for Rahm Emanuel to be fired because several months ago Emanuel reportedly told liberals they were “f—ing retarded” for planning to air attack ads against conservative Democrats opposed to health-care reform.

I’m certainly no great fan of Emanuel. I was concerned when he was named chief of staff. (“It’s fair to say,” I wrote in November 2008, “… that if Rahm Emanuel is chosen as chief of staff, the promise of a new and more uplifting era in politics may be revealed as a mirage. If Emanuel embodies the ‘new politics’ of the Obama era, it may well make the old politics seem like a garden party.”) And I think the Obama presidency has been, with a few exceptions, a train wreck. But calling on Emanuel to be fired is not appropriate and, to my mind, it is not even serious.

I can understand people, especially those with special needs children, objecting to the use of the word “retarded.” Fine: then make that case in a calm, reasonable way. But trying to turn this incident into a firing offense is badly misguided. This is the kind of thing the Left does routinely; it is an outgrowth of the Politically Correct movement, which has done a lot of damage to public discourse.

To try to use Emanuel’s words against him as political payback is unwise and unfair. If a conservative had said the same thing as Emanuel, I can’t help thinking that Palin would not be calling on him or her to step down.

It seems to me that Ms. Palin needs to convince people that she is an intelligent, reassuring, intellectually serious public figure. Things like this don’t help her make that case.

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