President Obama gave his first press conference of 2012 today. Actually, he didn’t dodge most of the big questions; he didn’t get asked them in the first place. Not a word about the ballooning federal debt, and, remarkably, there was little or no follow-up on the economy after the president’s happy-talk introductory comments. The press corps did find time, however, to ask Obama about Rush Limbaugh. To give the reporter credit, however, she did at least ask Obama about the double standard.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Do you think Rush Limbaugh’s apology to the Georgetown Law student was sufficient and heartfelt? Do you agree with the decision of the growing number of sponsors that have decided to drop his show and stop supporting his show? And has there been a double standard on this issue? Liberal commentators have made similarly provocative or distasteful statements and there hasn’t been such an outrage.
OBAMA: You know I’m not going to comment on what sponsors decide to do. I’m not going to comment on either the economics or the politics of it. I don’t know what’s in Rush Limbaugh’s heart, so I’m not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology. What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse. And the reason I called Ms. Flute is because I thought about Malia and Sasha and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about. Even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens. And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her.
And that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves arguments and disagreements and debate. And we want you to be engaged. And there’s a way to do it that doesn’t involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you’re a private citizen. Jessica Yellin?
Note that Obama simply ignored the question whether “there been a double standard on this issue [since] liberal commentators have made similarly provocative or distasteful statements and there hasn’t been such an outrage.” No one followed up on that point, so it was par for the course.