Brian Birdnow

This past week Dana Milbank, the Washington Post chief editorialist and unpaid advisor to the Republican Party, offered his critique of the GOP effort to cleanse itself by drumming the “intolerant” elements out of the Party. Milbank titled his OP-Ed piece on this GOP effort “Republicans Rediscover Tolerance” and, in high dudgeon, he ripped into Congressman Don Young for his tasteless ethnic comments. Milbank also dredged up the ghosts of defeated Republican candidates Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, and raked them over the coals as well, although no one has seen either of these fellows since November. Mr. Milbank claims to see some improvement in conservative Republicanism, circa 2013 as “…Fox News Channel has dropped Sarah Palin and Bill O’Reilly criticized opponents of same-sex marriage”. He gleefully notes “…even the much feared Rush Limbaugh has come in for criticism on the right.” He concludes by pointing out that MSNBC host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough “…blamed Limbaugh and Fox News Channel for Republicans poor electoral fortunes.” Milbank thus gives the Republicans a nearly passing grade for marginalizing the intolerant and bigoted faction of their Party.

Needless to say, the Republicans haven’t really hired Dana Milbank to critique the GOP, and probably won’t anytime soon. Still, the liberal echo chamber has started to pick up this refrain, and many Republicans, hoping to make sense out of the disappointing loss last November are willing to listen. The problems that this scenario presents are numerous. First of all, if the Republicans accept the media slander that they are the Party of “intolerance” they give the charge legitimacy. Many Townhall columnists including this author have noted in the past that the Republicans spend most of their time fending off the routine defamations and libelous attacks hurled at them by the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media. When the GOP officeholders and assorted politicos turn their attention to attacking their own Party (which Milbank notes approvingly) they certainly lend a level of credibility to further media attacks on their character. Why should the media refrain from hitting below the belt, so to speak, when the Republicans will do this to their own?

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.

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