Via Greg Hengler. Alternate headline: “No, they’re not giving back Maher’s million dollars.” He had several messaging options here. One: “What Maher said is terrible but we’ve all said things we regret.” That’s my preferred choice but he can’t dig in on that one or else implicitly he’s letting Rush off the hook too and that doesn’t help his war-on-women talking point nonsense. Two: “Fluke is a private citizen whereas Maher’s targets are public figure.” That’s probably his best defense, but as KP noted in her op-ed the other day, it doesn’t explain why sexist nastiness is okay when directed at the latter but not the former. Three: “Maher’s a comedian whereas Rush is the leader of the Republican Party.” This is the one he ended up going with; Burton’s White House roots are evident in that vintage 2009 line about Limbaugh. Problem is, Maher’s “jokes” about the women he attacks are usually sufficiently vicious as to leave no doubt about his true feelings. He’s not Don Rickles ripping on people for funsies; when he calls Palin a “dumb twat,” it’s because he’s searching for language to express his contempt and ended up there. The “clown nose off, clown nose on” defense for comedians doesn’t work when your clown nose is never really on.
Four: He could have been honest and admitted that (a) they could really use a million bucks and (b) they want to stay on the good side of a guy like Maher who’ll spend the next eight months using his media platform to argue on Obama’s behalf provided that they don’t piss him off. This is another reason why guys like him, Olbermann, and Taibbi skate: It’s not just that, as doctrinaire liberals, they’re necessarily “pro-woman” no matter how anti-woman their language is. It’s that the left’s establishment doesn’t want to undermine people who carry their water on policy. If the price of statist advocacy is tolerating the occasional dropping of the C-bomb, hey. Two clips for you here in that spirit, then, one of Burton and the other of Jay Carney yammering about Obama “leading by example” so that he doesn’t have to actually confront the malfeasors on his own side. Exit question via Michael Moynihan: Does this guy usually issue public statements taking issue with all of the moronic things members of his faculty say? If not, why this time?