I am confused.
When did it become okay to call the president of these United States an expletive on national television? When did it become right and reasonable to refer to President Obama as a common euphemism for penis?
WATCH GOLDIE TAYLOR’S MSNBC COVERAGE ON DECENCY FOR THE PREISDENT
This morning, TIME magazine editor-at-large Mark Halperin, a frequent guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, said that President Obama was a “kind of a d**k yesterday.”
After a bit of nervous laughter, sobriety set in. Something wasn’t right. There was, almost everyone knew, something inherently wrong about calling the president a “d**k.”
WATCH THE INFAMOUS ‘MORNING JOE’ INCIDENT HERE:
He was profoundly sorry, Halperin said, as others pointed the fingers at the show’s control room engineers. Whether or not the noted editor knew his comments were being broadcast live, I will leave to the heavens to know. Maybe he thought show producers would use the delay switch to cover his comment. There is simply no way to know for sure. But that’s beside the point. MSNBC condemned Halperin’s comments and suspended him indefinitely.
What we can be sure of is this. The standard of decency for this presidency is different from any other in modern times. There is, it seems, a new brand of distasteful vulgarity oozing through the public discourse. And it appears to me, if only for this president, that the rules for responding are different.
It says something about us when a congressman can call the president a “liar” from the House floor during the State of the Union and never pay a meaningful price. It says something when Rush Limbaugh can compare Obama to Adolf Hitler, who orchestrated a genocide that goes down in history as one of the most profoundly evil and brutal acts the world has ever known, and get away with it scot free.You can disagree with this president on policy. You can disagree with him on taxes, unemployment, foreign conflict, education and even which holidays he chooses to memorialize with a presidential address.
But no one can say that this president has not been respectful of this office and of the people he serves. Known for his unshakable demeanor, Obama comports himself with an all-too-often-missing portion of dignity and grace. He has no choice.
If you understand nothing else, know this. To be black in America means “we can’t do what they do.” A dear friend spoke those words to me over 20 years ago and I have never forgotten them. Forget making derisive remarks about others in the public square, the fact is we aren’t allowed to get angry or show disappointment openly. To be labeled “difficult” or “angry” is to be marginalized.
WATCH HALPERIN’S APOLOGY HERE:
For African-American men and women the vicious stereotypes around what is deemed “aggressive” for us but standard behavior for others is often the difference between a paycheck and the soup line.
“Who do you think you are?” I’ve been asked. “You think a lot of yourself,” the same boss said. I collected myself and quietly left his office that day. I ain’t nobody’s saint but, like Obama, there was nothing I could say without getting frog-marched out of the building.
So Obama will say nothing. He will never address the malicious attacks on his character by respected journalists or side-show carnival barkers. He can’t. He cannot say a nary word about how utterly indecent it all is.
There is something to be said about what we’re becoming. Or maybe it’s about what we’ve always been. A nation with two sets of rules.