The Spectacle Blog

Dana Milbank’s Washington Rosetta Stone

By on 2.23.11 | 10:50AM

So, on the surface, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post seems to be indulging this morning in just another Milbankian liberal media swipe at Rush Limbaugh. And Fox News. And…shockers!...The American Spectator.

But wait! Unintentionally, Mr. Milbank has given Outside the Beltwayers -- which is to say everyone else in the country -- a small if unintentional X-ray of just how Washington and the Washington mind-set really functions. A peek, if you will, at the Rosetta Stone of Washington, D.C.

Milbank's surface complaint is Rush Limbaugh's zeroing in on First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to get Americans to eat healthier. Rush, inimitably, has sweetly taken notice of everything from the First Lady's letting her kids chow down on decidedly unhealthy ribs while on a ski trip to the…ahhhh… interesting fashion of her fashions.

The American Spectator is given a time-out because Andrew Cline, the editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader and a frequent TAS contributor, caught the First Lady red-handed making a pitch for barbecue at the 2012 Democratic Convention to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fox was lectured because it had the audacity to waggishly opine that barbecue was not known as a diet food.

And of course, Milbank couldn't resist tagging Rush for his weight battles.

So far, so normal. Liberal journalist at liberal stalwart paper smacking conservatives, beginning with the nation's most prominent, before the morning coffee is even poured.

Right? Wrong.

A careful reading of this otherwise innocuous piece finds the Rosetta Stone of All of Washington, D.C. The Known Center of the Universe embedded deep within. It reads as follows:

Now, I'm not accustomed to defending Lady Arugula. When I ridiculed as elitist her acquisition of pricey (and certified-organic) Tuscan kale at a downtown Washington farmers' market, her spokeswoman informed me that I wasn't "invited back" to other first lady events.

What are the key words here?

They are:

"When I ridiculed (the First Lady) as elitist…..her spokeswoman informed me that I wasn't 'invited back' to other first lady events."

What does this appearance of the Beltway Rosetta Stone reveal? It explains in a few, telling short words what the heart of the problem is with Washington.

Mr. Milbank, seemingly employing his trade as a journalist under the safety of the First Amendment, made the mistake of ridiculing, however gently, the wife of the President of the United States. The President of the United States and his spouse -- any president, we should emphasize, not just this one -- sit at the dead center of Washington's social universe. To offend said president or his wife or his or her staff can result in that most terrifying of penalties in the Washington universe: no access.

To make matters infinitely worse, Milbank's mild ridicule was targeted (can I say that?) at a far-left president's deeply liberal wife. This is, to wax Harry Potteresque, The Real Sin That Shall Not Be Named. Which is to say: mocking liberalism. Worse, it was a liberal mocking liberalism.

What Dana Milbank has not written in this morning's Washington Post is a piece of serious if fluffy journalism. What he has written here is a VERY serious apology -- an on-his-knees-cross-his-heart-and-hope-to-die-begging-for-forgiveness apology directly to the said liberal First Lady, her liberal staff -- and oh yes -- just in case he was looking on -- the extremely liberal -- OK -- far left -- President and his staff. Milbank can only be grateful Rahm is now Mayor Rahm and too busy to focus. If there were a Chicago pol still serving as the White House chief of staff Milbank would be in deep doo-doo, as Bush 41 once said. Fortunately, the new guy Daley from Chicago is surely not the type to…oh…wait. Sorry. Never mind.

Hence the "look at me" nature of Milbank whacking Rush Limbaugh in the headline, with a whole platoon of derogatory personal cracks about Rush's weight to follow. And for good measure, more whacks at The American Spectator and, but of course, Fox News.

With me?

This is why so many millions delight in Rush Limbaugh's presence in his self-constructed Southern Command in Sunny South Florida. It's why readers love The American Spectator. And it is precisely why they have made Fox and its galaxy of stars the number one cable news network in the land, not to mention the talk radio crew.

What we all care about is sharp-eyed coverage of liberalism in action. Not hanging out at parties with the approved (and approval) of the Washington A-list.

Party on, Dana.

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