Whitehouse We Have Heard on High
It’s a curious standard, that which Edward Fitzpatrick applies to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s objectionable remarks on the Senate floor:
No doubt, those lines gave voice to the Democratic anger and frustration that mounts every time Sarah Palin posts more nonsense on Facebook. …
Perhaps it’s good for Rhode Island to have a fiery, outspoken senator to go with the understated Sen. Jack Reed. Perhaps there is some political utility to such speeches. If Palin is going to be using her Twitter account to perpetuate the “death panel” idea (PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year”), maybe Democrats need to do more to fire back.
Fitzpatrick appears to conclude that, based on the math of the vote, Whitehouse could have afforded to take the high ground, in this case, but think of the interaction that he’s describing and at least partially justifying: A woman who is at most an open-ended candidate, but currently just another political commentator, puts content on social networking Web sites, and a man elected to represent the people of Rhode Island fires back in an official, scripted speech from the floor of the national legislature. One shudders to think what other government institutions the Democrats will consider utilizing to “fire back” at citizens who express unhelpful objections on the Internet.
Also curious is Fitzpatrick’s position in light of his column — back before the “summer of death panels and socialists” as he quotes Dana Milbank — praising Whitehouse for being “aggressive.” That was in reference to Whitehouse’s comparison of the Bush administration to the historical horrors that he now applies more broadly, to everybody who opposes his party’s takeover of American healthcare.
I’d suggest that the high road was left back when President Transparency and Compromise took office and began showing his partisan closed curtains, not the least by releasing reports casting conservative beliefs as reason for suspicion of terrorism, and when Democrats like Sheldon Whitehouse pounded the metaphorical table about the need for a “truth commission.”
A side-note: Fitzpatrick cites the Obama-as-Hitler signage of Lyndon LaRouche supporters among the affronts to which Whitehouse is understandably reacting without mentioning that LaRouche is a Democrat. That information might be relevant to his narrative.