The defense that conservatives unified behind – and which in a way, lost the election for them – was to declare that The Liberals Have A Double Standard. After all, Bill Maher calls women “sluts” sometimes, and you aren’t yelling at him.
It may have lost the election for them because it avoided the topic. They suddenly wanted to talk about Bill Maher instead of addressing the fact that it wasn’t just Rush who was the problem. There was an element of the whole party being perceived as out of touch or indifferent to women at best, hostile at worst.
Here’s how they always sounded – “Yes, Rush shouldn’t have said that. But Bill Maher says that, and you aren’t mad at him. The Liberals Have A Double Standard.”
Then shockingly, they would add “I still don’t see why I should have to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control.”
I mean, forget that if that’s the definition of paying for something, then you very clearly want Sandra Fluke to pay for your babies, or rather for your lack of birth control. Forget that saying such a thing suggests that you have no understanding at all of how insurance works.
It’s a little sandwich of disrespect, starting with a very token acknowledgment that Rush Is Bad, a change of subject suggesting it’s bad but everybody does it so no big deal, then a REPEATED VERSION OF RUSH’S SHITTY LOGIC!
I don’t think the ladies liked that very much.
However, the real reason Republicans unified around the defense was that it was accurate. Liberals very definitely have a double standard. If you are standing around espousing liberal views, supporting a liberal cause, and then occasionally you’re a sexist prick, we’re going to yell at you.
But not nearly like we would if you are normally standing around espousing sexist views, supporting a sexist cause, and then you say something not only sexist, but demonstrably false and damaging to women.
Of course, not all liberals are the same. Certain factions of liberals hate Bill Maher 24/7. Certain factions get mad really easily, certain factions don’t give a shit. I’m sure conservatives are the same way.
And to be fair, the reason no one was going after Bill Maher in the way they went after Rush Limbaugh was that folks already went after him in that manner, after 9/11. He lost his show because people didn’t like something he said, they raised a stink, threatened boycotts and his advertisers freaked. He had to go to a subscription service, where people pay for content that’s for the most part unaffected by sponsors.
But it’s true, liberals have a double standard. So do conservatives. It’s pretty inevitable. Sarah Silverman can crack jokes about Jewish people. Mel Gibson ought to steer clear. It’s a double standard, but we’re going to go ahead, I think, as a society, and keep it.
I suppose we could sit here for a few hours, make a list of relevant distinctions between Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh, between Sarah Silverman and Mel Gibson, show that they aren’t truly analogous. But political discussions don’t move like that. No one has the patience for a microscope. It’s better to just concede the double standard.
And right about now, it would be nice if conservatives would also concede the double standard.
Admit, for instance, that there were identical questions surrounding 9/11 to those surrounding Benghazi. If you think that we should have been as mad at Maher as we were at Limbaugh, then I think you should be 750 times as mad about 9/11 as you are about Benghazi, but quite the opposite, conservatives were appalled that anyone would question the Commander In Chief on the heels of such heinous terrorist attacks. It emboldens the enemy, we were told.
Suddenly the President runs the IRS. Suddenly it’s his responsibility, because he’s the boss. But when it’s Abu Graib, shit – that wasn’t Bush’s fault. He can’t be everywhere. And he can spend money we don’t have, while Obama gets his travel expenses audited. Hundreds of billions of dollars we don’t have on a WMD-less War? Coolsville. Hundreds of billions of dollars trying to fix the economy Bush crashed into the ground? You can’t spend money we don’t have, Obama!
Constant, pervasive double standards.
Which is cool, we all have them. What they really are is irrelevant. Either you’ve got a valid argument or you don’t. Doesn’t matter rhetorically whether or not you used it last year.
What the double standard brings into question is your motives. Why are you outraged now but you weren’t then? The most likely possibility is, you aren’t outraged. You are just affecting your outrage for other purposes. Or, you’ve purchased the outrage from your television, believing it to be real.
A time for us all to look inward, I suppose.