[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
There's nothing quite like those moments on Fox when Megyn Kelly and Monica Crowley share the set, because nobody kvetches louder than these two. Yesterday they had a special segment where they whined about President Obama reportedly referring offhandedly to the Tea Party movement as "teabaggers."
The whole segment, as usual, was rife with disinformation. Crowley tries to characterize the DHS bulletin describing right-wing extremists as a potential terrorist threat as an attempt by the administration to demonize ordinary conservatives -- a simply risible (not to mention deeply irresponsible) claim. Kelly tried to claim that this was the supposedly the "second time" Obama had been caught using the term -- even though, in fact, he didn't actually say it to Earl Blumenauer.
Crowley was especially comical:
Crowley: He ought to really apologize for this vulgar and vile comment referencing the American people, and also try to give some sort of speech -- I know a lot of us have heard enough from the president already -- but he should try to put out some words that are going to make up for this kind of thing.Of course, neither of them get around to explaining exactly why the president needs to show deference to a movement explicitly organized around opposing him and any and every policy he might try to enact, a movement embodied by people who call him a Marxist and a fascist and depict him as a witch doctor with a bone in his nose.
... But you know, Megyn, even if he were to go out and say this, I would encourage him to do it, but he's got a credibility problem now because it seems that every time there is a movement or an individual or an institution or an organization that disagrees with his policies, he personalizes it. He singles them out, whether it's Fox News, or Sergeant Crowley of the Cambridge police department, or the entire state of Arizona for supporting this new immigration law, whether it's the Tea Party movement, he has this willingness that's very unbecoming of the American president, to go out and single out the American people.
But most amusing of all is the notion that calling Tea Partiers "teabaggers" is a horrendous, unforgivable slur. As Dave Weigel says, it's clear that Tea Partiers find it offensive now, so that's probably reason enough not to use it if you're interested in conversing with them. That's a big if, though.
Moreover, as Jay Nordlinger at National Review admits, the term "teabagger" was introduced to the political lexicon by Tea Party movement leaders:
The first big day for this movement was Tax Day, April 15. And organizers had a gimmick. They asked people to send a tea bag to the Oval Office. One of the exhortations was “Tea Bag the Fools in D.C.” A protester was spotted with a sign saying, “Tea Bag the Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You.” So, conservatives started it: started with this terminology. But others ran with it and ran with it.Tommy Christopher at Mediaite has it about right:
The origin of the term is relevant in determining the relative size of the Tea Party’s violin. What wasn’t pointed out to Tapper is the fact that the Tea Partiers not only invented the term, they did so in order to inflict a similar double entendre onto the President, the Democrats, and liberals in general. Hence, it’s a violin so small, you need an electron microscope with a zoom lens to see it.Here's a video of Griff Jenkins urging viewers to "Tea Bag the White House," plus Charles Krauthammer last November referring offhandedly to the "Tea Bag protests":
Now, they’re trying to re-cast the term as a slur, on a par with the “n-word,” hurtful to all the Tea Party members who are just ordinary moms, dads, sons, and daughters. The latter point has some resonance, but the former is ridiculous in the extreme.
In emails, protest signs, t-shirts, and online, early Tea Party literature urged protesters to “Tea Bag the White House,” and to “Tea-bag the liberal Dems before they tea-bag you.” The suggestion is that the metaphoric “tea-bags” be shoved in the mouths of the President, Democratic members of Congress, and even ordinary citizens who identify as liberal Democrats. The idea that they just didn’t know the term’s only (at that time) meaning is belied by the fact that they obviously knew it was negative (and non-consensual), since they didn’t want it done to them, and also because it only had one meaning.
It was only after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and David Shuster, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, turned the tables on the term that Tea Partiers objected. They were perfectly satisfied to advocate the metaphoric mouth-rape of liberal men, women, and children, but had the nerve to become indignant when the insult boomeranged on them.
And then there was Neil Cavuto in May:
I understand Tea Partiers want to get people to stop using a word they now find embarrassing. But can we please stop pretending that it's an unconscionable slur?