Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, speaking of Dr. Daniel Mongiardo, a dark-haired, dark-skinned second-generation Italian-American running against him this fall:
“I have to tell you he looks like one of Saddam Hussein’s sons… I mean before they were dead, of course…I really mean that he looks like one of Saddam’s sons, and he even dresses like them, too.”
Bunning made the remarks at a Lincoln-Reagan dinner (Abraham Lincoln couldn’t be reached for comment either on pairing his name with Reagan’s or on Bunning’s Know-Nothing comments). After word leaked out, Bunning’s campaign denied that he’d said any such thing.
But then it emerged that the event had been videotaped, and Mongiardo’s people started to demand that the Bunning folks release the tape.
Suddenly, someone at Bunning HQ had an attack of memory, and issued the standard non-apology: “We’re sorry if this joke, which got a lot of laughs, offended anyone.” Bunning still refuses to release the tape.
Digby points out that Bunning is a serial offender, having run an ad six years ago about his opponent’s vote for NAFTA that concluded with a Latino-looking man walking on camera and saying, “Mucho gracias, senor Baesler.”
[Right. Should be “muchas.” Whattaya want, good grammar or good hate?]
1. If you were wondering whether the Right Blogosphere was willing to keep silent about this sort of nonsense, you can stop wondering. At least some of them aren’t.
Call it “political correctness” if you like (as one of Cole’s commenters does), but it is, simply as matter of social fact, no longer acceptable in polite society to make racist “jokes” except about one’s own group.
[Not to say this isn’t a loss in literary terms as it effects stand-up comedy and related artforms. Cutting myself back to Jew-jokes only has greatly limited my range, though fortunately leaving a pretty big field of comedic action. Imagine if you were, say, Swiss or Sri Lankan!
But I put “joke” in scare-quotes because the racist sneer, wrapped in “Did you hear the one about?” concluded with a laugh, and intended to damage its target by calling up bigoted images, is delivered for serious, rather than purely comedic, effect.]
2. Note, by the way, the crying unfairness of the Blogosphere. Kevin at Catch.com found the story and did the actual legwork. Then Dibgy commented on Kevin, I commented on Digby, and Cole commented on me.
Cole, of course, gets the Instalanche. Well, you can’t say he didn’t earn it. Calling a foul on your own team is a difficult and honorable thing to do.