Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Inverse Proportion

An easy way to tell if a gaffe is trivial is by seeing how outraged the right-wing gets. For example, when RNC Chair Michael Steele demanded that Sen. Harry Reid step down as Majority Leader because of his comments two years ago about then-Sen. Barack Obama, just days after Mr. Steele himself used a racial slur against Native Americans, then you know that it’s not a big deal and that it would be a one-day news story if the GOP flapping mouths didn’t keep talking about it.

If it was truly a gaffe of major proportions, the smart thing to do is just let it go and leave it to the devices of its own malignancy; for example, Sen. George Allen and “macaca.” But the more the other side tries to gin it up, you know you have a little firecracker, not a nuclear weapon of mass destruction. Attempts to make it more than it really is result in some really interesting — if not laughable — statements such as the comparison to Trent Lott’s praising of Strom Thurmond for being an ardent segregationist when he ran for president in 1948.

One guy is talking, perhaps inelegantly, about why he’s whole-heartedly supporting our first black president; the other is wishing the country had elected a racist. That’s exactly the same thing!

Not to mention that being schooled in racial sensitivity by the party that is sucking up to the tea-baggers is roughly the equivalent of being told to butch it up by Liberace.