It's Good to be King

How pathetic is this (via Digby)?

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) took on a rare role yesterday as a defender of President Bush.

Hoyer came to the defense of the commander in chief after Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, where the president took a drubbing from comedian Stephen Colbert.

“I thought some of it was funny, but I think it got a little rough,” Hoyer said. “He is the president of the United States, and he deserves some respect.”

“I’m certainly not a defender of the administration,” Hoyer reassured stunned observers, but Colbert “crossed the line” with many jokes that were “in bad taste.”
You know what? When you argue that the president “deserves respect” simply because he’s the president, you’re not just defending the administration; you’re coming dangerously close to defending their vision of the unitary executive, which not only holds that the president is imbued with unchecked and unilateral power, but, as expressed by the Bush administration, ought to be free from criticism and censure. Certainly the president deserves respect in the way that any individual does, but conferring upon him a special freedom from accountability—even when delivered in a satirical performance—is antithetical to our notions of American democracy and equality.

Did Colbert make anything up? Did he reference unproven conjecture about the president’s history (coke use, taking a girlfriend for an abortion) or even anything about the president’s personal life that has no bearing on his leadership (drinking problems)? No, he did not. Everything he addressed was fair game—and pretending that it was out of bounds because it cut close to the bone is utter bullshit, and indicative of just how far we’ve come in treating this president like a bloody king.

Let me make a radical suggestion: Stephen Colbert, as a citizen of this country, deserves some respect. He deserves to have members of the dissenting party support his right to criticize the president. Hoyer doesn’t have to agree with his methods, or think his jokes were funny, but if he’s going to comment on the evening, he ought to have said, “Colbert spoke his mind as an American,” and left it at that. I’m getting well tired of the Beltway dingbats of either party acting as though Americans don’t have a right to express themselves in whatever way they see fit, as long as it’s honest and legal.

And let’s get real here—Hoyer only thinks Colbert’s performance was inappropriate because he’s just some average Joe granted an “audience” with the president and other D.C. powerbrokers. I didn’t see his panties getting in a twist over the snarky DNC press release or Rep. Rahm Emanuel’s sardonic poem read on the House floor. When such an attitude is only problematic when expressed by someone whose sole political power otherwise rests in his or her vote, that’s representative of a belief that there should be a very important line between elected elites and average Americans—perhaps the very line that Hoyer accuses Colbert of crossing.

You want our money, you want our support, you want our dedication as foot-soliders, you want our votes—and you want us to keep our mouths shut, and leave the criticism in your hands so it can be done “properly.” This is the same elitist horseshit in which has grown the roots for your contempt of bloggers, anti-war activists, et. al. Fuck that.

One of the things we most despise about Bush is the stinkass attitude that oozes from his every pore: “I’m the president, dammit.” Defending that is about the worst thing you can do to win our favor.

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