I have a hard time in general with the language police, even when it’s Rahm Emanuel we’re talking about and especially if Sarah Palin is leading the charge. But I agree Rahm does owe an apology for using the expression “f&*king r%!ards” — to MoveOn.
Because that was who he was addressing.
Stroll down memory lane to the end of July, when the Blue Dogs were holding the care bill “hostage” the Energy and Commerce Committee. On Friday July 31, the committee was scheduled to vote and MoveOn announced that it would run radio ads against any Blue Dog who voted against it. Gregg Sargent ran the script.
Three Blue Dogs voted “no”: Melancon (LA), Barrow (GA) and Matheson (UT). MoveOn produced the spots, and on Tuesday morning August 4 announced their intention to begin running them the next day:
That afternoon, Rahm showed up at the Common Purpose meeting and told MoveOn what he thought of them for doing this: “fucking retarded.”
Rahm was already angry that MoveOn had pushed back on him earlier in July, telling their members to contact the President in protest after Rahm told the Wall Street Journal that he liked the idea of triggers. But after the Common Purpose meeting he knew he’d gone too far. He immediately went to Jonathan Martin at Politico and told a highly sanitized tale of what had happened. But too many people had been present at the meeting, and it was only a matter of time before the story came out.
It wasn’t the first time that the White House had upbraided liberal groups at the Common Purpose meeting for pushing back when the Blue Dogs tried to sell the party to lobbyists and let them write the health care bill. The very purpose of the weekly event is to enforce message discipline, and both CAF and USAction had been upbraided in front of their peers by administration staff for criticizing Blue Dogs in the past.
The White House has a long history of treating “liberal” groups with high handed arrogance and disrespect after they were extremely strong allies of Obama during the campaign. Rahm isn’t alone. He just says what everybody else is thinking. Rahm and others in the administration owe MoveOn — and liberals — more respect than that.
His great misfortune as far as the media is concerned was to say it in a very Rahm-esque way and get language nannied by Sarah Palin. He is meeting with disability advocates today, and after the Special Olympics indicated they did not accept his apology, he is sincerely apologizing again.
Rahm should publicly apologize to MoveOn and promise to respect their independence in the future. And if he wants to put the “R” word incident behind him, here’s an idea: he’d be the perfect spokesperson to do a PSA for R-word awareness. You know, speaking straight into the camera. With feeling. And March 3 is R-word Awareness Day.
I’ll personally pledge a hundred bucks toward putting it on the air.