(The title of this post is an allusion to one of my favorites movies of all time. A beverage of your choice on me if you can name it.)
In anticipation of tonight's "Game Change" Premiere and reflection on the two weeks of hang wringing over Rush Limbaugh's offensive rant(s) about private citizen (and fellow GULC alumni) Sandra Fluke, I thought I would share this interesting YouTube clip:
The obvious response is "Sarah Palin ran for office. Sandra Fluke was a private citizen." Yeah, but...Sarah Palin's daughter didn't run for office. Sarah Palin's disabled son did not run for office. We aren't qualifying our outrage about Limbaugh by saying "Calling someone a prostitute is ok so long as they are running for a position of national scope."
This all comes down to what I believe is a rule of public office: Don't overreach. If you've got a single (i.e., your most consistent entertainer-critic "stepped in it" and is losing sponsors), don't go for a double (i.e., rubbing his nose in it at a press conference). President Obama's overreach now merits some kind of response in terms of what he will do with his own sponsor -- Bill Maher.
I expect the President to let this wash away into the past, as all good politicians do. But I think this is a lesson for all of us in self-righteous chest pounding. If you're on the left, I would guess that you spent sometime over the last two weeks slamming Limbaugh and the GOP for their failure to repudiate. Do you feel the same way about your President? Did you overreach? And if you're on the right, you probably pulled your hair out about how Sarah Palin was being treated unfairly in the press and that it was sexist. Do you think Rush Limbaugh deserves to lose a few of those sponsors?
And could we PLEASE stop talking about "freedom of speech" when someone loses their job on a cable news station or loses sponsors for their radio show. I am practically begging at this point. We all have the right to say whatever we want. We do not have the right to have that speech sponsored or promoted by someone else. In fact, freedom of speech is better displayed by the cable networks and sponsors choosing not to endorse that speech. Not the blow-hard trying to get away with saying whatever they want.
Bottom line: Don't overreach. And if you do, watch your six.