Thursday, November 19, 2009
Since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the voices of intolerance and bigotry have gotten increasingly louder. The Fox News sanctioned/organized Tea Party movement always seems to have a contingent carrying racist signs. There was the California mayor who sent out an email with a picture of the White House lawn covered with watermelons. In April, after the special election that turned former Congressman Jeb Bradley into a state senator, NH GOP Chairman John Sununu told the Union Leader that Bradley could be counted on to sustain a veto by the Governor of the marriage equality and transgender protection bills, “if he finds the strength to veto that garbage.” Today’s GOP seems to be pandering to the lowest common denominator within the party: the far racist and bigoted right.
The results of that were audible this past Saturday, on the “Meet the Press” radio show, which is broadcast from WEMJ in Gilford, and streamed live on the internet. Host Doug Lambert looked right into the webcam at the end of the show, and began a diatribe about NHDP Chair Raymond Buckley. He said (in part): “Yeah you Faggot. That's right I said it and I meant it. You are reprobate. How the people, the Democrats, I think of some of the gray haired ladies and older people from the old party would stand behind you is beyond me. You are a disgrace to yourself to humanity to mankind and to your party.” Meanwhile, host Skip Murphy sat beside him and giggled.
Republicans in NH don’t understand that the media has changed. Most of the traditional media in our state is still dominated by the traditional Republican mindset, but the new media, the online media is not. Bloggers are becoming increasingly powerful. Doug and Skip should have been more aware of that – their blog, granitegrok, was the leading conservative blog in the state. Doug had a column at the Laconia Daily Sun for years. They parlayed their success into the radio show – on the day of this particular show State Senator Jeb Bradley and US Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne were guests. The tradmed in NH generally gives Republicans a pass (save for Ray Burton), and as a result they seem to think they’re invincible.
Doug and Skip certainly thought so. They’ve been getting away with all kinds of bigotry on their blog for years. After Wanda Sykes appeared at the last White House correspondent’s dinner, Doug expressed his hope that Ms. Sykes would choke on a chicken bone or a watermelon rind. Ms. Sykes is African American.
Doug and Skip learned quickly that they aren’t bulletproof. James Pindell posted about the rant on his blog, NH Political Report, and from there it spread like wildfire. Suddenly NH Republicans couldn’t put enough distance between themselves and their former pals at granitegrok. Ovide Lamontagne and Jeb Bradley were amongst the first to make statements condemning the language Lambert used. Congressional candidate Frank Guinta issued a statement as well, informing us that Lambert had resigned as a county co-captain of his campaign. Skip Murphy gets to stay on. Apparently giggling and enabling isn’t the same thing as actually verbalizing. Lambert himself issued an apology of sorts, albeit one that was rather self-serving. He wrote (in part) “To be blunt, what I said is something that never should have been said in any kind of a public setting, or, quite frankly, in a private one either. Being human, and an honest person that is used to freely speaking my mind, my passion got the best of me.”
Skip Murphy’s blog commentary also fell neatly into the self-serving-sorry we got caught –zone, “Doug is a passionate guy and sometimes often pushes the envelope - mostly on strictly political grounds. He skates to the edge - this time, he went over that edge.” Murphy then went on to blame liberals for creating an overtly politically correct society, and further to blame Democrats for not accepting Lambert’s half -hearted apology. One might wonder about all this passion, and conclude that perhaps passion doesn’t mean what they think it means. It looks like plain old bigotry to me.
The Laconia Sun announced that Lambert’s column was no longer welcome in the paper. WEMJ cancelled their radio show. On Monday, Lambert announced that he would be leaving the blog as well. He issued a second apology that ended, “Let this be a lesson to those who harbor such hatred as I have demonstrated—think about it. We must love EVERYBODY as we do ourselves. And all the world is a camera. There is no hiding anymore. I engaged in a WHOLE lot of free speech around here. With that, comes responsibility. Use it wisely.” The second apology seemed to actually be one. As regular readers are aware, I frequently lament the fact that the GOP calls itself the “party of personal responsibility” while never actually taking any. Here we see Doug Lambert taking responsibility.
On Wednesday, after the “Where’s Sununu” stories were appearing all over the blogosphere, the NH GOP Chair finally weighed in on this episode. “Mr. Lambert’s comments were disgusting, inappropriate, and offensive. That is why I, as Chairman, asked for an immediate condemnation from our State Party - and that was done. I am encouraged that so many Granite Staters of all political persuasions denounced this vicious personal attack. We are all in agreement that what Mr. Lambert said is completely reprehensible and doesn’t belong in our public dialogue.” This is the same man who called the marriage equality bill “garbage.” My, what an interesting fence these folks are straddling.
Many of the people who issued horrified statements are the same people who are already working to repeal NH’s marriage equality law. They’re the same folks who can’t wait to get their hands on all that out of state hate money. Skip Murphy was not censured for being a giggling accomplice. Their readers are giving them high fives. Mostly, they’re all just sorry that Lambert got caught, and that NH bloggers turned this into a big story.
“It always seemed to me a bit pointless to disapprove of homosexuality. It's like disapproving of rain.” Francis Maude
© sbruce 2009 This was published as an editorial in the Conway Daily Sun on November 20, 2009
Posted by susanthe at 8:26 PM