Civility has been a big topic among Democrats lately. Teresa Heinz Kerry was talking about civility right before she told a reporter, one Colin McNickle, to "shove it."
Ms. Heinz Kerry was apparently unhappy with the reporter because she believed he was "putting words in her mouth". According to a video of her speech, she had warned of "unAmerican traits" which were creeping into politics. The reporter asked her what she meant by "unAmerican activities". Ms. Heinz Kerry said she hadn't used the word "unAmerican" but, well, according to the video she was wrong. She admitted it (sort of) when called on it by CNN, which gave this version of the dispute:
Heinz Kerry's remark came after she told the delegates that "we need to turn back some of the creeping un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics."
As she was leaving, McNickle asked her what she had meant by her use of the word "un-American."
She argued with him, insisting she hadn't said "un-American."
He said he thought she had used the term "un-American activity."
"I did not say activity or un-American," she responded.
Later in an interview with CNN, Heinz Kerry denied using the word "unAmerican". However, she admitted it when the transcript was read to her:
In the interview with CNN, Hemmer said "the quote I have is that you said un-American."
Heinz Kerry then said, "No, un-Pennsylvanian."
Hemmer then read her the quote from her address to Pennsylvania delegates and she acknowledged saying it.
Having it proven to her that she said the word "unAmerican" she told the CNN reporter that what she was really unhappy about was the use of the word "activities".
But she said the reporter was using the term "un-American activities, which has a very different connotation."
Of course, from the way her story changed it is easy to see that Heinz Kerry is just quibbling. Based on her remarks, Mr. McNickle's question to her was perfectly legitimate. She got mad--madder than she should have gotten, but you know how those billionaires get when challenged by "the little people"--because she believed she hadn't used the word "unAmerican." She is wrong about that, she knows she was wrong, and if she was a reasonable person she would know that she had behaved churlishly toward that reporter.
Now, Ms. Heinz Kerry is a powerful woman, a billionaire who is also the wife of a senator who will perhaps soon be the first lady. She steps on this working guy reporting for a small paper in Pittsburgh who was only doing his job, based on her mistake. One would think that a supposed party of the little guy (as if) would have a problem with her behavior.
One would be wrong. According to an earlier CNN article, Hillary Clinton had this to say:
Asked about the comment Monday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she believes that "a lot of Americans will say, 'Good for you -- you go, girl.' And certainly that's how I feel about it."
And Hillary, with her finger on the pulse of all Democrats, wasn't wrong. According to the Washington Post members of "The Teresa Heinz Kerry Fan Club . . . had found another reason to cheer their hero, and they were loving it."
"I'm going to vote for her -- twice!" said Thelma Goldstein, delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Falmouth, Mass.Uh, Thelma, you see she is not really running . . oh never mind. And then there was this:
"Even though she gets attacked by some of the media," said Eva Royale, a delegate from California, "it's important that she continue to voice her opinions."
Of course, the basic problem for the "you go, girl" contingent is that, as sort of established above, Ms. Heinz Kerry was in the wrong here, the reporter was just asking a perfectly legitimate question, and Ms. Heinz Kerry wrongly took offense because she was mistaken as to what she had just said.
None of this presented a problem for the Democrats, who took this opportunity to announce a new rule of behavior (hence the title of this post, I always get there eventually, even if it takes a while). The rule is that all this civility talk does not apply to members of the "right wing media".
After the incident Sunday, a spokesperson for Heinz Kerry told CNN affiliate WTAE, "This was sheer frustration, aimed at a right-wing rag that has consistently and purposely misrepresented the facts in reporting on Mrs. Kerry and her family."
In other words, it was all Mr. McNickle's fault for working for this paper. And--in spite of the fact that no one questions that McNickle was just doing his job in a perfectly legitimate way, this is the position being taken by Democrats across the board. According to Joe "Hunting of the President" Conason, the fact that McNickle works for a newspaper owned by the (gasp) Richard Mellon-Scaife means that the normal rules of behavior no longer apply. He wrote an article called "Scaife’s Hired Hack Deserved Teresa’s Ire", but this innuendo heavy, fact light hit piece (has the man never heard of time, date, place or anything else) doesn't mention anything that Mr. McNickle has ever done that was improper (in fact, it doesn't really mention him at all). Conason is pretty clear that hunting season is open on Mr. McNickle for the sole reason that he works for a "right wing" paper owned by Mellon-Scaife.
The blogger Atrios seconds Conason:
The fact that the media covers for Scaife's ridiculous little Western PA rag while professing shock and horror that Theresa Heinz Kerry showed more restraint than I would have when she told their guy to "shove it" is yet another example of how morally bankrupt they all are.
Wow, so now people who support any level of civility to poor Mr. McNickle are "morally bankrupt". They certainly aren't sensible, as Mr. Noah, writing for Slate reported from the convention floor that Heinz Kerry "very sensibly told a reporter for a Richard Mellon Scaife-owned newspaper to "'shove it.'" (my emphasis)
I dwell on this because last night new Democrat Wonderchild Barack Obama was wildly cheered by thousands of Democrats for decrying people who try to divide Americans along political lines, by saying that we are all one people:
Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America.
Probably cheering right along were Hillary Clinton and delegates Thelma Goldstein and Eva Royale, who, while agreeing that we are all one people, think in a "some pigs are less equal than others" way that it is okay to be less than civil to--well--right wingers. But, of course the vast gulf between what the Democrats say they believe, and how they really act, is nothing new to most of us.