The Spectacle Blog

The Schultz Apology and Liberal Tourette’s Syndrome

By on 5.26.11 | 10:47AM

Ed Schultz has apologized to Laura Ingraham.

On MSNBC. Apparently, he is trying to contact her directly. 

You can decide for yourself what to think.

Whatever Laura's response is hers to make, and in that sense the public story ends here, the rest between Laura and Ed Schultz. This world, as we all know, moves on and quickly at that. This incident is already receding in the political rear view mirror.

But before it fades out of sight if not out of mind, there's a larger point to be made here.

Mr. Schultz has, as do all Americans, a First Amendment right to free speech. Yes, things are dicier on air -- radio or television although (blessedly) not (yet!) the Internet. Radio and cable television personalities stumble frequently enough, always out there on a quite visible high wire with millions cheering them on -- and tens of tens (joke! Sort of…) cheering for them to trip and fall to their media extinction.

Mr. Schultz has stumbled badly here.

In truth? There's no joy in watching this kind of thing. Like so many in the world of conservatives and media I've met Laura Ingraham. She is a former Reagan colleague, I've been asked on her show and, due to a holiday travel rush, was unable to appear. A single Mom, a breast cancer survivor, a converted Catholic -- there's lots of reasons this kind of thing was particularly despicable when aimed at her. Ms. Ingraham, delightfully tart of tongue, will surely survive and prosper.

But this much needs to be said here in a political context. 

No one is trying to squelch Ed Schultz or -- to coin a phrase -- to "Beck him." To silence him, ruin his life, take him off the air for good beyond what his ratings and his bosses have to say. Freedom -- genuine free speech and liberty -- is pretty much a worthless charade if in fact you can't speak your peace freely and openly using the basic common sense and extremely broad rules of everyday conversation.

It's safe to say that when polls repeatedly show twice as many Americans identifying themselves as conservatives rather than liberals (as in this Gallup poll) that conservative number includes a goodly number of onetime liberals who have left the fold.

Without doubt one of the reasons is that the kind of behavior exhibited in Schultz's assault on Ingraham is not in the least unusual in what has become modern day liberalism. From the moment the American liberal traded in the standards of, say, Adlai Stevenson or JFK for the standards of the anti-Vietnam left in the 1960s, the once solid liberal majority in this country began blowing in the wind. Blowing away, that is.

There is a considerable difference between JFK urging that it's time to get this country moving again and riotous crowds shrieking "One, two, three, four…we don't want your f---ing war." The latter chant a taunt to Lyndon Johnson -- about as liberal a Democrat as you could find in 1967 and 1968.

The liberal psychology has been on a downslide towards the sewer ever since. One can protest at this kind of analysis but poll after poll after poll shows some version of that Gallup poll linked above. It is much too simplistic to pin this shift simply on this particular point. But most assuredly it plays a role.

We're never going to agree with Ed Schultz in this corner, we suspect. But we certainly wish him no personal ill as so many on his side have done to conservative personalities and politicians -- the film thumping the idea of assassinating George Bush being perhaps one of many sadly typical low roads in this respect.

Ms. Ingraham will sail on, doubtless amused to find herself in the midst of this kind of kerfuffle. Mr. Schultz will, presumably, after the adult media version of a child's "time-out" period, be back.

But will liberals get the deal here? Will they understand that in the minds of millions what Ed Schultz did to Laura Ingraham is seen not as some sort of aberration peculiar to Schultz but rather a typical example of the modern left doing their thing? That Schultz is in fact but the latest liberal/progressive/leftist to exhibit what might be called LTS -- Liberal Tourette's Syndrome. A philosophical tic exemplified by an uncontrollable urge to blurt obscenities and socially unacceptable, decidedly inappropriate remarks. A trait that popped up somewhere along the line in the late 1960s and, in one form or another, has been costing liberals everything from votes to ratings to newspaper sales ever since?

Count me as skeptical.

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