Hey Democrats--A Little Help?
by Chris Bowers, Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 09:02:39 AM EST
Further, Young attributed his words to Abraham Lincoln, even though Lincoln said nothing of the sort. In fact, Republicans around the country have been spewing forth this false quote for some time now, as part of their long-standing argument that people who oppose the war should be, well, "arrested, exiled or hanged." Young took his words from other conservatives who had falsely been quoting Lincoln, not from Lincoln himself.
Considering the "scandals" the media often focuses on, one would think that making a big deal out of this would not be difficult. A congressman misquotes Lincoln and argues that other members of Congress should be killed. This should be a slam dunk, right? There should be a long list of people going on CNN or MSNBC demanding that Young apologize that the Washington Times reporters who falsely quoted Lincoln be fired. There should be a new organization to pop up from nowhere, called "Americans for Lincoln's Legacy," or something. Every talking head should be doing a segment about this on their next program, and act aghast that a member of Congress would willfully misquote Lincoln, much less call for the murder of war opponents (note that the former is probably worse than the latter, since Lincoln was a Republican and most war opponents in Congress are Democrats).
Of course, this isn't happening. While the cable news nets spent dozens of segments talking about the Edwards bloggers, and while hundreds of newpapers picked up one or more of the numerous wire reports written about that story, so far only two newspapers have picked up the story on Don Young. I don't watch the cable news nets, but I can't imagine there has been any coverage of this there, either. While one would think that a Congressman falsely making Abraham Lincoln appear like a bloodthirsty tyrant while simultaneously calling for the murder of a majority of the members of the house of Representatives is at least as big a news story as what two junior staffers for a presidential campaign wrote on their personal blog last year, clearly that is not the case. This story is just not making a dent in the news.
The main problem here is not just the media, however. In this circumstance, the main problem comes from Democrats who refuse to take the opportunity to pounce on these regularly insane statements from Republicans. There isn't a single Democrat in Congress who is bothering to speak up in outrage over Don Young's comments. With the exception of the Center for American Progress, I don't know any progressive advocacy organizations that are speaking up either. Basically, the entire Democratic establishment is just giving young a free pass on this. There are far more establishment Democrats who continue to attack bloggers over the Edwards flap than there are who are doing anything to attack Young. This is extremely frustrating, because in the end there is simply no way that the blogosphere can push this story into the media all by ourselves. The right-wing blogosphere can't push anything into national news without assistance from other conservative organizations, media and elected officials. The difference is that the right-wing blogosphere frequently gets that support from their establishment, while we get absolutely none from our establishment.
The refusal of Democrats to jump on this story also speaks volumes on how utterly self-defeating the Democratic mentality has become in Washington. Basically, establishment Democrats have developed a chronic case of Sistah Souljah-it is, where they are far more eager and willing to denounce members of their own party than they are to denounce Republicans. Quite a few Democrats took, and continue to take, great pains to make it known that they disapproved of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan being hired by the Edwards campaign. However, none of the same people are making it known that they found Young comments offensive, and that they would like to see the Washington Times journalist who propagated the false quote be fired. This is because, ever since Clinton denounced Sistah Souljah, many Demcorats have convinced themselves that distancing themselves from their own party is the surest path to political and media fame as a Democrat. It is in this way that virtually every single media scandal about someone saying something outrageous, offensive or vulgar focuses on Democrats and progressives. This is one of the reasons why we are the ones always apologizing, where Republicans and conservatives are the ones always on the attack.
For a party whose main image problem is that we don't seem "tough," it is pathetic and self-fulfilling that the only people are "leaders" are willing to be tough on are ourselves. For crying out loud, take advantage of these moments when they come to you. Have some respect for yourselves. Don't let Republicans demand you apologize for year-old comments made by random junior staffers while their elected officials call for your murder on the floor of the House. Why would anyone respect a party that acts like that? How pitiful can we be, as we beg for mercy even after we took the majority in both House of Congress? If the Democratic Party doesn't learn to respect itself, and find that it is more important to denounce Republicans than it is to Sistah Souljah every single person in your own party, not only can we forget about winning the White House in 2008, but our time in power on Capitol Hill will be short lived indeed.