Olby on Obama's "teabagger" comment: You asked for it

Ah, this again. Some guy at an early tea party was photographed carrying a “Tea Bag the Democrats Before They Tea Bag You” sign, and henceforth, unto eternity, all tea partiers are expected to politely endure being derided in those terms. We started it — and by “we,” I of course mean some random guy and a few others — and therefore we must accept the consequences. Forever. Which, in an odd way, makes perfect sense: Not only does it follow the guilt-by-association mania by which any one tea partier is responsible for the sins of any other member, but it also illustrates the left’s unwillingness to accept blame for its own smears. It simply can’t be the case that they’re going into the gutter because they enjoy it; they’re too virtuous for that. It must be that we asked for it.

It’s almost not worth pointing out that Olby’s selectively quoting from National Review here — what would “Countdown” be if he provided full context? — but I’ll point it out anyway. Here’s Jay Nordlinger’s passage in fuller flower:

The first big day for this movement was Tax Day, April 15. And organizers had a gimmick. They asked people to send a tea bag to the Oval Office. One of the exhortations was “Tea Bag the Fools in D.C.” A protester was spotted with a sign saying, “Tea Bag the Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You.” So, conservatives started it: started with this terminology. But others ran with it and ran with it

It will be interesting to see whether the president — or Bill Clinton, for that matter — ever uses “teabag” and the like in public. And if not, why not?

Some on the right are using “teabagger,” but mainly the word is a putdown from the left. Conservatives realize that nothing friendly is meant by it. You can tell by tone and context, for one thing. (Or is that two things?) Of course, some people use “teabagger” in innocence — unaware of any vulgar connotation. One such person is, or was, Gwen Ifill. Some of her NewsHour viewers wrote to complain. And Ifill later said, “Turns out I am the only person with access to email who never knew this was a term with a sexual meaning. I used it in an offhand manner as a shorthand referring to the ‘tea party’ movement. It was a slip I was unaware of, and I regret it.”…

In any event, it may well be too late to purge “teabagger” from our discourse, certainly from discourse controlled by liberals. But I’m for giving it a try: for running “teabagger” out of town, even at this late date. It is really a lowdown term. “Tea partier” is a neutral term. “Tea-party patriots” is a positive term, used by some of the protesters themselves. “Teabagger” — not so positive, and not so neutral.

I.e. it’s a smear, but let’s let Barack Obama off the hook for using it because he’s “trying to do good” or whatever. Incidentally, if you missed the new Olbermann promos now airing at MSNBC, go have a peek at Olby Watch. Apparently excluding people who disagree with you from your show is the new hotness.

Oh, and be sure to watch the second video below, from Reason TV, as well, just so that you have the modern-day Murrow and his ilk in their full context.

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