Etheridge the Unready — and his enablers

Watching the video below in this post at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government site yesterday, my first thought was that there is something wrong with Rep. Bob Etheridge. He was set off by the question asked on the street outside a Nancy Pelosi fundraiser: “Do you fully believe in the Obama agenda?”
Now that may be a difficult question for a Democratic congressman from a swing district in North Carolina, but it didn’t even necessarily call for a response. Rep. Etheridge could easily have ignored it and gone on his merry way.
Instead Etheridge went ballistic.Perhaps the single most obvious point demonstrated by the video is that Etheridge is unfit for high office. It is a point that applies to many incumbent congressmen, including my own. (That would be Minnesota Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum.) Whoever the young interrogators of Rep. Etheridge, and whatever their motives, Etheridge unmistakably revealed that he is a bully and a nut.

This is a point that escaped Chris Cillizza, one of the Washington Post’s top political reporters. Having watched the video, Cillizza sought to draw “The lesson of Bob Etheridge.” Cillizza observed: “In the past five years (or so) technology regarding video (and audio) has advanced exponentially — from the flip cams that are ubiquitous (including in the Etheridge incident) to the ability to quickly post clips to the Internet — and, in so doing, has changed the calculus for politicians.” Cillizza added parenthetically: “The simple political fact is that as a Member of Congress, you can’t grab people on the street — no matter the context.”
Could this be any lamer? Deep stuff like this has earned Cillizza a prime spot in the Post’s lineup.
Big Government has posted much more of interest on the Etheridge incident, including links to unedited video here and here. The unedited video confirms that Rep. Etheridge is a nut.
Not long after the original Big Government post was published, Rep. Etheridge issued an apology. “I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved,” Etheridge said in a statement.
At the hastily called news conference addressing the incident, Rep. Etheridge couldn’t help defending himself by suggesting that he wasn’t in top form at the time: “The truth is I had a long day. I’ve had bad days many times. It’s not a good crutch to lean on and I won’t use that.” Calling on the politician’s ancient rhetorical device of praeteritio, Etheridge somehow managed to serve up his long day as an excuse. Any crutch in a storm.
Indeed, Etheridge leaned on one more bad crutch in his statement: “No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response.” As we can see for ourselves on the video, Rep. Etheridge himself is an unintrusive, nonpartisan kind of guy. Stop him before he leans on a bad crutch again!
The national Democratic Party is something of a bad crutch dispensary. Even though they don’t have much to work with, Ben Smith reports that the powers-that-be in the Democratic Party have gone on the attack on behalf of Rep. Etheridge.
Smith quotes DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse: “Motives matter, and I think you can see who was behind this. This was a Republican party tracking operation. If it wasn’t a party tracker or intern, why is the face blurred and why is the source hidden? You know if it had been a right wing blog, they’d identify themselves and they’d be booking this person on TV all day. Republicans know if they admit their involvement in this game of gotcha it will undermine their credibility. One minute this guy is interviewing a member of Congress on camera and the next a video is released with his face blurred out? If that doesn’t tell you this is a Republican Party hatchet job nothing will.” Okay. Where is Chris Cillizza when you need him? (Smith sought out Breitbart for a response.)
Considering that Etheridge assaulted the young man asking him the insanely provocative question regarding the extent of his support for the Obama agenda, I think this is what Democrats otherwise characterize as “blaming the victim.”
Before we “move on,” there is much to be learned from this illuminating incident.

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