By Doug Heye, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
"Corzine Points Spotlight at Christie's Weight" reads the headline in today's New York Times, capturing Jon Corzine's line of attack in the New Jersey gubernatorial race: Republican Chris Christie is too heavy to serve as governor.
As the article states, a Corzine commercial attacking Christie shows the candidate emerging from an SUV "in extreme slow motion, his extra girth moving, just as slowly, in several different directions at once." Reinforcing the attack, the ad says Christie "threw his weight around."
"Threw his weight around," get it? As the Times article says, it is "about as subtle as a playground taunt."
Campaigns are rife with playground taunts, but imagine the reaction if a Republican said a Democrat candidate "went both ways" on gay marriage. Without question, it would be denounced as homophobic and receive wide attention, as opposed to the collective yawn Corzine's attacks have received until the Times article.
Similarly, anyone looking for outrage over Richard Wolffe's comments on Countdown with Keith Olbermann Monday night that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was a "token" selected as party chair to "cover themselves against any accusations of racism" in the Obama age was more likely to hear crickets chirping—just as Democrats and the media stayed mum in 2006 when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called Steele "slavish," Maryland State Senate President Mike Miller labeled Steele an "Uncle Tom," and Barack Obama himself, of whom any questioning of his readiness to be president was deemed racist, told a Maryland audience in 2006 that Steele was too inexperienced to join Obama in the Senate. (Full disclosure: I served on Steele's 2006 Senate campaign.)
(And Wolffe forgets recent history. There was a conservative grassroots movement pushing Steele as RNC chair after the 2006 election, as reported in the Washington Post. But why let reality get in the way of rhetoric?)
For Republicans, however, condemnation is quick and severe.
Earlier this week, BET founder Sheila Johnson was forced to apologize over a video of Johnson imitating Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds's stammer, but only after the National Stuttering Foundation condemned Johnson, asking, "Do you also make fun of people in wheelchairs, or do you believe stuttering is the only disability it's ok to ridicule?"
Yesterday, a National Republican Congressional Committee press release criticizing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's pronouncements on Afghanistan and suggesting the speaker be "put in her place," led to a firestorm. MSNBC—which ignored Wolffe's racially charged comments on the same network—repeatedly attacked the committee as sexist, and the statement was a topic of Pelosi's press conference this morning.
You see, when such attacks are made on Democrats, they are hateful and sexist, but if done to a Republican, well, what's the problem?
The problem, it turns out, is hypocrisy.