Friday, March 13, 2009

The Dangers of Snark

For a group of people that have no qualms about throwing around epithets like “socialist” and “terrorist” at the Democrats and who have as their de facto leader a radio talk-show host who coined the term “feminazi,” the Republicans sure get pissy when someone outside of their cult has the nerve to poke a little fun at one of their blessed icons.

David Hayes is the nominee for the second spot at the Department of the Interior, and a few years ago he wrote a memo that included his impressions of the Western stereotype. Via Washington Monthly:

Hayes argued in the piece that “the conservative political agenda in the West is grounded in hoary stereotypes about the region and its people” and that “out of this conservative world view emerges the stereotypical Western man (and it is unquestionably a ‘he’) — a rugged, gun-toting individualist who fiercely guards every man’s right to drill, mine, log, or do whatever he damn well pleases on the land.” He added, “Like Ronald Reagan before him, President Bush has embraced the Western stereotype to the point of adopting some of its affectations — the boots, brush-clearing, and get-the-government-off-our-backs bravado.”

Okay, it’s a bit snarky, but is it worth holding up his nomination in the Senate? John McCain thinks so.

At a nomination hearing for David Hayes for deputy secretary of Interior, the former Republican presidential candidate read aloud from an article that Hayes wrote in April 2006 which drew unfavorable comparisons between former President George W. Bush and Reagan. […]

“So you had to throw Reagan in there?” McCain continued.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Hayes said.

“I wouldn’t have said something like that about Bruce Babbitt,” McCain continued, referring to the Arizona Democrat who was Interior secretary during the Clinton administration.

“I will be considering seriously whether I can support your nomination or not,” McCain added.

You have got to be kidding me.

Steve Benen says, “Even McCain must realize how terribly silly this is.” No, actually, I don’t think he does, and it points out just what a good thing it is that he’s still just a senator. We all knew last year that Mr. McCain has a short fuse; some of his defenders see that as an asset. But to vote against a nominee because of what amounts to a bit of mockery of both Mr. Reagan and George W. Bush, both of whom put on the cowboy act a little too much, is too much.

It also shows how woefully thin-skinned the Republicans are. They can dish it out by the bucketful, but when it comes to getting some back, they’re childish, petulant, and vindictive.