There has been a great deal of discussion about the recent comments made by Joyce Thomann, ostensibly under the imprimatur of the Republican Women of Anne Arundel County. If you have not heard about this, here is some background. Personally, like most Republicans, I would prefer this story go away. A real debate is emerging, however, about how Republicans and/or conservatives should respond to the left's united attack premised upon what have fairly universally been regarded as "unfortunate" comments and some have called me out for my thoughts on the matter. So, here goes.
I do not believe that anyone has an obligation to defend these comments or Joyce Thommann, especially given that she herself has admitted they were wrong by apologizing for them. Why should any elected official, candidate or party leader expend their credibility defending the indefensible? Why is it cowardice to say that the comments were "inept" and that Thomann was "right to apologize" (which is what County Executive Leopold said) or that they are "unfortunate" as the party is trying to grow (which is what Councilwoman Vitale said)? Why should aldermanic candidates who sincerely disagree with the statement endorse it?
Make no mistake. This entire issue is an effort by Judd Legum to raise his profile as he runs for a Delegate seat in the Annapolis area and fits perfectly into the hard-left's efforts to brand all Republicans as extremist kooks who can't handle a black President (epitomized by Olbermann's nightly rantings). Legum, Olbermann and their blogger buddies are scumbags trying to score cheap political points. The local media is happy to dive in because it is a simple, sensational story that fits in their template that Republicans are extremist kooks. There are plenty of other examples of the same storyline, be it the hypocritical infedelity of Gov. Sanford or a local GOP official posting a joke stating that Michelle Obama's relatives are apes. It is a tactic of the left to promote these stories.
So what do we do?
One "defender" of Ms. Thomann said that her statement was "careless" and that she disagreed and, and this cannot be repeated too often, Ms. Thomann apologized for the comments and admitted they were "insensitive" and a poor choice of words. This was not an erudite comparison of Obama's agenda and the tenants of National Socialism, a la Jonah Goldberg, it wasn't even an accurate metaphor of the speed of Obama's agenda and the Congress and the conquest of Europe. Rather, it was a ham-handed attempt to set aside reason and logic and instead use the hyperbole and shock value of the name "Hitler". It was "careless", "inept" and "insensitive" and destroyed the credibility of the legitimate point of a need for urgency in resisting the President's agenda. It was the stupid rant of a woman whose zeal far exceeds her judgment and who, frankly, should have more sense but doesn't.
The Mike Netherland/David Kyle/Don Dwyer's of the world do not see it this way. While some may choose to remember the good works of Ms. Thomann despite her recent error, the "ultra-defenders" believe what she said was "nothing inappropriate", that she was merely "saying what she believes" and to not defend her to the utmost is "spineless" and raising our "hands in surrender and throw Mrs. Thomann to the thought Gestapo". (Talk about hyperbole!). They revoke the conservative bona fides and threatened to destroy anyone who does not endorse these statements. (By this logic, of course, Thomann herself might have some explaining to do for apologizing and saying that the President is "an honorable man and a dignified public servant and as such he's worthy of our great honor and respect". Buy hey what's rationality among friends.)
The fact is, though, this course of "going down with the ship" to defend the indefensible and refusing to recognize that people on our side can go beyond the pale is exactly what the left wants. Why do you think the Capital was so quick, after ignoring his emails for years, to publish the castigation of RWAAC by Mike Netherland the day after he issued it? It feeds their template, damages our credibility and distracts from the real issues where the conservative message is making headway.
But Greg, you say, what about the hard lefties crying "McBusHitler" for years? They made crazy comparisons for years, why can't we? Well, for one, we in the blogosphere have used this term as a shorthand to describe the loony left who has no credibility. I talked about this in the "Nut Ball Box" segment of my podcasts.
Do you really think taking the same tact is the right way to go? An over the top, crazy comparison we criticized for years is now okay because it is made by someone on our side?
Some say yes. That is their right. I respectfully disagree and think intelligent, credible, principled conservatives with spines can see this approach as no recipe to compete in the marketplace of ideas or any legitimate political debate.
So, we don't have to defend it, or excuse it.
The fact is some other Republican may say something stupid again or say something stupidly again. I hope they don't. But if they do, I will not pretend the Emperor has no clothes and say how brilliant their comment was.