Barack Obama is on the ropes politically, so — of course — top conservative pundits want to change the subject to a debate about their racially-charged comments.
Rush Limbaugh went on the air the other day to say that while President Bush had “shock and awe,” President Obama has operation ‘shuck and jive’. (I get that this is a clever turn of phrase, but not everything one thinks needs to be said.)
And Ann Coulter is hawking yet another book — which probably explains why she went on TV to say that Russian President Putin made President Obama look like a “monkey.” (Just to be sure we heard her, she said it three times.)
Is it a coincidence that these two comments happened back-to-back?
Here’s the problem: These are smart people who had to have known their words would be (at best) controversial. Less than a year ago, Sarah Palin became embroiled in controversy for using the same words Limbaugh just repeated. And just a few months ago, John McCain was criticized for a much less blatant use of “monkey.” (The monkey slur, of course, has a long history of dehumanization.) Host Sean Hannity, it should be noted, voiced concern over Coulter’s comments during the segment.
The point is that anyone who is paying attention knows this is playing with fire. And since the notion that these comments were made accidentally (or without knowledge of the historical and racial context) lacks believability, we are left to assume these were either intentional and sincere racial slurs — or an attempt to troll for controversy.
Thankfully, I’m going to go with the latter — which is better, but still problematic.
Look, sometimes controversy is good. When people take political correctness to ridiculous extremes, they deserve to be poked fun at (see the Water Buffalo incident.) But that’s not what this was.
Even assuming the goal was purely to generate publicity, these were selfish moves. I can see no scenario where changing the subject from Obama’s dithering to the GOP’s racial insensitivity actually makes any important points — or helps the conservative cause.