Another Breach of Basic Decency — from Our Side

Responding to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)’s admittedly callous suggestion that an uninsured, seriously ill woman should just find a charity to take care of her (“Just for fun he said — get a job!), MSNBC’s Ed Schultz crossed all sort of lines yesterday, with this tirade:

“[T]he Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They’d rather make money off your dead corpse! They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they don’t have anything for her. that’s how the insurance companies make money — by denying the coverage.

Democrats, what’s wrong with you? You can’t deal with these people!

For shame, Schultz. This, no doubt, will be used to retroactively justify all manner of reprehensible Republican rhetoric, from the old “death panel” lie to Joe Wilson (R-SC)’s now-famous outburst. Especially in this time of degraded political dialogue, we must hold ourselves to a scrupulously high standard, for our benefit, and that of our opponents. Or, if we’re going to push the limits, we should at least try some subtlety. Schultz violated both rules of common decency.

Besides, there’s so much better to be done with Cantor’s lovely remark. Is he his own, one-man “death panel” now? That’s every so slightly more polite, and exposes the ridiculousness of a popular Republican talking point. Schultz just has no style.

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16 comments

  1. I’ve caught Schultz on the air a few times in recent weeks. It amazes me that MSNBC goes from him, to Matthews, to Olbermann, to Maddows in the afternoon but liberals accuse Fox of partisanship.

    1. It’s much more alarming on the lilberals side to see such a huge audience being taken in by partisanship of fox. I find the comparisons of, ‘BUT MSNBC” to be silly in comparison.

  2. I’m actually very disappointed in msnbc’s partisan slide. It is no better. The difference is msnbc doesn’t pretend to be “fair and balanced.” so there’s that.

  3. I continue to believe though that Morning Joe is one of the best cable news shows on television. It has the most balanced group of guests and commentors of any show out there.

  4. MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News… They’re all crap. Seriously, the gym I go to often has all three up on the tvs simultaneously, and I read the subtitles, and I loathe everyone involved in their creation in equal part.

    I also don’t see what the problem is with what Cantor said. That woman’s life and the continuance thereof, like every individual’s, is of no impact to society at large or the well-being of the majority of people, and the government’s responsibility is to see to the common good. The common good isn’t served by artificially preserving individual lives, even if that morally bankrupt policy of extending the privilege of life to the undeserving weren’t going to financially bankrupt the masses and lessen the quality of their lives. Representative Cantor’s job and the purpose of the public policy he’s responsible for helping to craft is to see to the common good, the needs of the many that outweigh the needs of the few. He has a duty to be callous. Frankly, I think it would be a better world if everyone were more callous, because then maybe we’d quit squandering resources trying to extend the privilege of life to the undeserving. “If he dies, he dies” is, I believe, more morally correct than “Life is precious and a human right and we must ensure that everyone stays alive as long as possible, no matter how overweight or ill or elderly or criminally convicted they are.”

    1. Steve, my advice to you is to cut back a bit on the confrontational prose, because while I think you actually have a valid idea somewhere in there, it is unfortunately obscured by the thoroughly distasteful way in which you express it.

      1. Lanfranc, I will bear that in mind, but it is difficult for me to be honest and speak about health care and entitlement programs in any other manner.

    2. How about euthanasia at retirement age? Old people don’t contribute much and use up valuable parking spaces.

  5. I really have no problem with MSNBC. The commentary is liberal, but they don’t pretend that it’s not. Liberals don’t dislike Fox because they think that the Fairness Doctrine is a moral imperative, after all. The problems are that it claims to be “Fair and Balanced” while not coming close, that particular personalities on the network can be dishonest, and that its political leanings bleed over into what it reports as news (this last is non-unique – there’s certainly something to the commmon conservative critique of the New York Times, say).

    Granted, the only thing I watch on MSNBC is Maddow’s show. I’d never heard of Schultz, I find Matthews boring, and I think that Olbermann is an insufferable jackass. But Maddow’s a lot of fun, and it’s not like she pretends to not favor one side rather heavily.

  6. To flesh that out a bit more, let’s look at O’Reilly (I ignore Glenn Beck here as an obvious trainwreck). The Factor seems designed to convince viewers that O’Reilly is eminently reasonable, and it goes out of its way to suggest that its presentation of the left side of any issue is charitable and fair. He’ll bring on liberal guests and allow them to get a few sentences in (creating the impression that he’s meaningfully offering both sides), and then he’ll cut them off, end the interview, and editorialize for quite a while on why they’re clearly wrong. The viewers gain nothing from having the abbreviated liberal position presented by an actual liberal, and O’Reilly gets to create the impression that conservative arguments have beaten liberal arguments fair and square. The show also tends to bring on people to argue far-right viewpoints that O’Reilly can then halfheartedly argue against. This bolsters the casual viewer’s impression of him as moderate and fair while subtly shifting the viewer’s perception of where the middle ground is.

    By contrast, Olbermann is just cartoonish. I don’t think there’s any danger of someone finding him to be fair-minded or thinking that he can be trusted to fairly portray the other side. Maddow’s clearly a smart woman, but she’s also often the most liberal voice on her program, and she certainly doesn’t engage in the sort of faux-fairness that O’Reilly does. Hell, she’s got a tendency to explicitly attack Obama from the left.

    1. I don’t dislike Maddows as much as i thought I would, however she still comes across as a bit too smug for my tastes. I will say that she is very good at laying out the issues point by point and I agree that she’s been tough on the President. So I’ll give her an A+ for being the best of the Liberal 4 on MSNBC evenings.

      1. I feel like conservatives break out the “smug” line just when they feel like they’re losing an argument with someone. Like Maddow. It’s hard to detect an inch of smugness in her, but she is well-read and makes her points efficiently. So…

        1. Here’s the way I look at it: When Tim Russert was alive and he was on TV you knew he was always the smartest guy in the room, but he never acted like he thought he was. With most commentors today, Maddow included, you get the sense that they believe they are the smartest folks in the room. I translate that as smugness.

      2. I think that’s just what happens when you listen to humor from the other end of the political spectrum. Maddow spends a lot of her show poking fun at conservatives. Lots of people have the same reaction to Jon Stewart. Occasionally you get liberals wondering why all conservative humor is mean-spirited, etc. I think we read in a certain meanness or smugness when someone from outside of our group makes fun of it.

    2. I agree that Olbermann is cartoonish. And it really makes me sad that HE’S the one trying to revive the “goodnight, and good luck” line. That’s crap. Like Madonna’s cover of American Pie. Don’t rehash a master unless you think you are one, and other people agree.

      1. Have any of you seen Ben Affleck’s mockery of Olbermann that he did on Saturday Night Live? He does Olbermann’s shtick very funnily.

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