First, let’s get Michael Gerson’s credentials in order as we look at his comments in a recent column called, “The Rhetoric of the Rant.”
Gerson is an op-ed columnist for The Washington Post and served as President George W. Bush's chief speechwriter from 2001 until June 2006. Prior to joining the Bush Administration, he was a senior policy advisor with The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Gerson wrote an impassioned piece about how Wanda Sykes “crossed the line” with a comment about how she wished “Rush Limbaugh’s kidneys would fail,” at the 2009 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Her comment was a follow-up on Limbaugh’s stated wish that President Obama will fail.
The conservative Gerson referred to Sykes’ comments as “a practiced form of verbal aggression, combining harshness and coarseness to shock and intimidate. Continuing, he dragged in Al Franken and the comic’s book, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot.
The irony of using Franken’s openly satirical book about Limbaugh as an example of a rant might have passed had Gerson gone on to mention that Limbaugh is a dedicated practitioner of rants, having insulted everyone from the families of 9/11 survivors to American war veterans -- but, of course, he did not.
Neither did Gerson mention Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck (who once fantasized about killing Michael Moore on the air) or Sean Hannity, who have developed rants to the exclusion even of facts on occasion. Gerson suffers from the “conservative humor syndrome.” If it’s about a conservative -- or those who pass as conservatives today -- it ain’t funny.
Come on Mr. Gerson, when your side does the same thing as Sykes, who is a comic, and Franken who was a comic and satirist, you just say something along the lines of “politics is a contact sport.” I bet you didn’t even complain when Dick Cheney snapped a gutter invective at a United States Senator on the floor of the Senate.