A perfect chaser to yesterday's surreal shot of the Left's selective civility:
Step 1 - A union boss screeches about "taking out" some Tea Party "son-of-a-bitches" [sic] at an organized labor political rally in Detroit. (For bonus humor, watch the very end of the clip, when Hoffa, Jr. punctuates his elegant point by beseeching his supporters to "give America back to America where we belong." Profound).
Step 2 - The President of the United States delivers a speech from the very same podium, minutes later.
Step 3 - An enterprising journalist asks the White House spokesman if the president condemns the union boss' inflammatory rhetoric.
Step 4 - Said White House spokesman bobs and weaves for two minutes, ultimately refusing to disavow or apologize for the remarks.
Pay careful attention to Jay Carney's new standard, as defined by ABC Newsman Jake Tapper's line of characteristically relentless questioning:
Just so we're all on the same page here, according to this White House, President Obama bears zero responsibility for anything that does not literally proceed from his mouth at a rally he attends. As Tapper establishes in his drill-down, Team Obama is embracing the construct that the incendiary words of surrogates or other speakers at campaign events are not the "principal's" (in this case, Obama's) problem, and that it would be an irrelevant waste of time to ask the principal to repudiate someone else's comments. Tapper, who's tangled aggressively with Carney before, cagily reminds the White House spokesman that Obama's campaign once adopted a different stance on such matters. He makes passing reference to a 2008 cycle incident in Ohio, in which a local talk radio host repeatedly invoked Obama's middle name during an on-stage diatribe at a McCain campaign rally:
When conservative talk radio host Bill Cunningham, a supporter of Sen. John McCain, warmed up the crowd before the Arizona senator spoke in Cincinnati today, he assailed Democrat Barack Obama in harsh terms — and repeatedly used his middle name, Hussein. Immediately after his own speech, McCain apologized and said he condemned Cunningham’s remarks...McCain said he didn’t hear the comments and didn’t know about the remarks before addressing the crowd at Memorial Hall.
The Obama campaign officially accepted the apology in a written press statement. Based on today's rules, though, anything said at a McCain rally that didn't come from the candidate himself would be unworthy of media scrutiny. Tapper tries to induce Carney into saying something -- anything -- that might indicate the president disapproves of an influential Obama ally using belligerent language to demonize a large swath of the American populous. No such luck. Tapper's questions are distractions from the president's job creation, ahem, "agenda," he's curtly informed. Just to make sure Carney's point is perfectly clear, Tapper summarizes: "The precedent you're setting for the 2012 election is that the Republican candidates are the ones we need to pay attention to -- and those who introduce them at rallies, they're surrogates, we don't have to pay attention to anything they say?" Carney declines to correct or clarify Tapper's assertion.
Lesson learned, Perry/Romney/Bachmann campaigns! Make sure the principal keeps his or her powder dry, and just set everyone else -- even speakers at campaign gatherings -- loose to engage in the truly vulgar attacks. No apologies will be demanded by the Obama campaign, nor should they be offered, so long as the GOP nominee isn't overtly sligning the mud. Good to know.
Of course, this is a self-serving standard for the Obama crew to bless, for two reasons: (1) They know as well as you and I do that theirs will be an intensely personal, negative campaign in 2012. Obama will float above the fray most of the time, but pretty much everyone else will come out with Ugly Guns a-blazin'. Why not preemptively claim that none of this not-technically-expressed-by-Obama vitriol should reflect on him as a sitting president and candidate? (2) They're also supremely confident -- perhaps reasonably so -- that the media will issue a few requisite tut-tuts for Obama's nasty campaign, but will run ruthless interference for Democrats every time even a slight disturbance or wince-worthy moment plays out at a GOP event. Remember the dopey (and incorrect) McCain/Palin "hate rally" crisis meme the media spun off of one or two outbursts from random GOP supporters in 2008? The Obama campaign is counting on similarly negative coverage for Republicans this time around, while trusting that they won't get savaged for the separate set of rules by which they're plotting to play.
UPDATE - Katie pointed out yesterday that DWS also wouldn't condemn Hoffa's inarticulate 'SOB' comment. Hard to bite the hand that feeds you, isn't it, Democrats?
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography