Mr. De Niro was speaking at a fund-raiser with the first lady, Michelle Obama. Here’s the joke: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” – Bill Maher
Why the first lady’s press secretary bothered to say Mr. De Niro’s joke was “inappropriate” is beyond me.
That Newt Gingrich used the moment to say it was “inexcusable and the president should apologize for him” is predictable.
Both sides of this trumped up story look foolish and so does the media coverage it got. Why should Pres. Obama assume responsibility for someone outside his administration? The notion is insane, but that’s where we are.
But are we seriously going to simultaneously say that profane descriptions of women as a punch line are equivalent?
Bill Maher says a mouthful in the New York Times today:
[...] This week, President Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, described Mitt Romney’s constant advertising barrage in Illinois as a “Mittzkrieg,” and instantly the Republican Jewish Coalition was outraged and called out Mr. Axelrod’s “Holocaust and Nazi imagery” as “disturbing.” Because the message of “Mittzkrieg” was clear: Kill all the Jews. Then the coalition demanded not only that Mr. Axelrod apologize immediately but also that Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz “publicly rebuke” him. For a pun! For punning against humanity!
The right side of America is mad at President Obama because he hugged the late Derrick Bell, a law professor who believed we live in a racist country, 22 years ago; the left side of America is mad at Rush Limbaugh for seemingly proving him right.
If it weren’t for throwing conniption fits, we wouldn’t get any exercise at all.
Apologies mean nothing, as we found out from Rush Limbaugh. It’s certainly not going to stop him from invoking femininazi, because nothing will.
But no one is going to listen to Bill Maher either.
What the answer is to 24/7 instant media and social interaction in the new media age is uncertain, but we’re not outgrowing it quickly.
If Limbaugh and Maher don’t use the “s,” “p” or “c” words to get a laugh next time they’re taking out after a woman, they’ll never have to say they’re sorry.
I’ve never needed an apology for this stuff and taking someone off the air, whether Limbaugh or Maher, has never interested me either.
However, powerful men in the media using women as a punch line through defaming them is an issue and is not a joke.
Anything that causes women to think twice about getting into the public arena and engaging in politics is a challenge to achieving parity in representation for the genders. Seeing more women in leadership positions is important because of the different policies we champion, as well as getting this country to the moment when our frat boy nation finally elects a female president.
That’s not important to some men, but to every woman in America it should be.
Another thing that’s important is a sense of humor. Ladies need to get one and refusing the urge to be thin-skinned wouldn’t hurt.