Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
To be a liberal in America is to be acutely aware of the gaping double standard that exists with regard to the expectations placed on you versus those put on conservatives. The disparity is so enormous that I doubt even the most dimwitted “both sides do it!” centrist pundits can deny it to themselves. Liberals are expected to argue politely and rationally, have our facts perfectly in order, and maintain a calm and pleasant demeanor at all times no matter what mendacious, hateful nonsense the other side is flinging at us. No concomitant expectation exists for conservatives. They are free to behave as poorly as they want and take whatever liberties with the truth they’d like, knowing that “both sides” will be blamed, which lets conservatives escape accountability and encourages them to see how much farther they can push the envelope.
Similarly, when Democratic politicians are in power, it is simply assumed that they will demonstrate a high level of competence and attentiveness to the details of the job. They’re the adults in the room, after all, everyone knows that. When there is a problem, as with the Obamacare website rollout, Democratic are expected to dedicate themselves to fixing it, which they often must do in the face of massive Republican opposition and outright obstruction. When Republicans are in charge, on the other hand, it’s assumed they will embark on a mostly ideological agenda with no regard to the practical consequences. When they reveal themselves to be incompetent at governing as they so often do (it’s part of the plan, you know), the Democrats (being the adults in the room) are expected to focus on solutions and help them fix the mess. We’ve seen this with Medicare Part D rollout (which had plenty of glitches), both military conflicts started by Bush, the Hurricane Katrina response, etc. etc. None of which is to say the Democrats are perfect, because of course they’re far from it and I’m not speaking to specific Dems who may be shiftless or corporate sellouts or whatever. This is a general observation of groups and what is expected of them.
Naturally, conservative pundits are given the same type of latitude as Republican and rank-and-file right wing activists to substitute partisan fervor for actual competence at whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing. On Sunday, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly was granted an interview with President Obama on the coveted pre-Super Bowl slot and chose to use it to push idiotic right wing bugaboos (unwed mothers!) and conspiracy theories rather than ask substantive policy questions.
Naturally Benghazi came up.
O’REILLY: All right.
Libya, House Armed Services testimony, General Carter Ham, you know, the general?
OBAMA: Yes. Right.
O’REILLY: Security in Africa.
O’REILLY: He testified that on the day that the ambassador was murdered and the three other Americans, all right, he told Secretary Panetta it was a terrorist attack. Shortly after Ham, General Ham, said that, Secretary Panetta came in to you.
O’REILLY: Did he tell you, Secretary Panetta, it was a terrorist attack?
OBAMA: You know what he told me was that there was an attack on our compound…
O’REILLY: He didn’t tell you…
Attacks on US Embassies happen all the time, including several during the George W. Bush administration. What struck me, as I watched this Fox buffoon grill a sitting President about one attack on a US consulate on foreign soil, was the utter lack of similar interrogation his predecessor enjoyed over the terrorist attack that occurred on US soil, on his watch, that killed over 3000 people. When is any interviewer going to demand to know from former President George W. Bush, or perhaps former Vice President Cheney, why their administration rebuffed outgoing Clinton officials trying to brief them about the dangers of Al Qaeda and ignored warnings of planned attacks for eight months in 2001. What, is it too soon? I think not. Over twelve years have passed and we are no longer the stunned and trauma-addled nation we were then. But we’re still paying for two wars and this big honking Homeland Security apparatus today, aren’t we? At long last, some grilling of President George W. Bush (or really, Dick Cheney) might be in order, don’t you agree?
It’s interesting that whenever I’ve asked a conservative about Bush’s inaction prior to the 9-11 attacks, invariably they respond by ignoring that and blaming – you guessed it- Bill Clinton for failing to capture Osama Bin Laden when he was President. Which is basically their unwitting admission that you should just expect incompetence from a Republican administration where big, important things are concerned. If a Democrat doesn’t take care of it, it doesn’t get done.