Not his ugliest performance ever — not even his ugliest with respect to Miss Cali — but possibly his most gutless. I’ll let one of his sharpest lefty critics, Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler, explain:

[Gay marriage opponent Marion] Barry is a major American politician, in a major American city. He sits where the rubber meets the road—inside a political body which may consider a bill to legalize same-sex marriages. We weren’t offended by Barry’s “ugly words” ourselves—although we hope (and assume) he was wrong in his sweeping assessment of the views within DC’s black community.

But it’s funny, ain’t it? You haven’t heard squat about Barry’s “ugly words” on your “progressive” cable news channel! But last night, The Dumbest Person in the World devoted another lengthy segment to ridicule of Carrie Prejean, an insignificant 21-year-old who recently made the mistake of saying something about same-sex marriage which Olbermann has never even bothered describing. (For the record, her view on the matter seems to resemble that of Barack Obama. And that of Hillary Clinton. And John Kerry and Al Gore.) The big nut went on for almost seven minutes mocking Prejean—and her breast implants. But it’s funny, ain’t it? You’ve never heard a word on this program about the things Marion Barry said…

In this world, Barry doesn’t exist. You see, Barry is both black and male, and Keith doesn’t plan to enter such realms. For years, he has pimped you trash about women’s dumbness, while progressives have sat there and stared.

Well, not just women’s dumbness. Between mockingly calling her “St. Carrie” and reserving his most pointed sneers for her comment about being tempted by Satan — a standard formulation among devout Christians — pretty clearly it ain’t her gender that he regards as the smoking gun of her alleged stupidity. Most bizarre, though, is his accusation near the beginning that she’s guilty of “know-it-all-ism” on this topic. Really? When the whole thrust of her exceedingly modest answer at the pageant was that she was raised to believe in heterosexual marriage but meant no offense in holding that opinion? She’s the opposite of “know-it-all-ism.” And incidentally, is Keith Olbermann really accusing someone else of know-it-all-ism?

What this segment really is, although Somerby doesn’t say so, is Olby’s version of a Two Minutes Hate. The underlying policy issue is almost entirely omitted, despite the opportunity it offers to explore Obama’s position on gay rights. The point, rather, is simply to hold Prejean up to ridicule for her breast implants, her religious belief, and her misunderstanding of freedom of speech — about which he’s correct on the letter of the law (as I said myself) but not the spirit. Her point at yesterday’s presser, however misstated, was that speech isn’t real “free” when innocently answering a question on television means suffering a sustained campaign to personally humiliate you or your family. Olby might see that if he weren’t, you know, part of it.

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