Sheesh. This “lipstick on a pig” thing is getting out of hand. I’m getting tired of it, so I’m going to try to explain to Barack Obama (and his supporters, who are far more likely to see this) how he can get past it.
First up, he needs to acknowledge the precedent that, when someone says something potentially offensive, ignorance is no excuse and intent is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the perception of the remark, both by the target and the audience.
That is the standard, that is the precedent. It was established in the Washington, DC “niggardly” mess. That was at the core of the infamous University of Pennsylvania “water buffalo” incident. That was the standard that took down Trent Lott and George Allen, and caused Mitt Romney when he called Boston’s Big Dig as a “tar-baby.”
In this case, we haven’t heard directly from Palin, but her running mate has taken offense on her behalf. Further, if you watch the video of Obama saying the line, the crowd clearly takes it as a shot at Palin — the explosion of cheers for such a hoary cliche’ beggars any other explanation.
So let’s say that Obama didn’t intend to call Sarah Palin a pig. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. By the standards clearly established, that doesn’t mean a tinker’s dam.
So he owes her an apology. I’d recommend he issue the standard liberal non-apology:
“I regret that some people misinterpreted my remarks of the other day, when I used an innocent cliche’ in passing in a speech. I absolutely intended no disrespect to Governor Palin. I deeply regret that some may have misunderstood what I said, and if anyone was offended by my remarks, I sincerely apologize.”
There. Let’s call a spade a spade — that’s not a real apology. It’s the perfect liberal apology — I didn’t do anything wrong, you’re stupid for thinking I did, and I’m not sorry unless you want me to be.
This story’s shot its wad. Time to put this to bed and move on.
Yes, I did deliberately use the phrase “call a spade a spade.” I also chose to use some dirtier-sounding-than-they-are cliche’s there — “hoary,” “tinker’s dam,” “shot its wad,” and “put this to bed.” If I could have worked it in, I’d have also used “the pot calling the kettle black.” For someone who loves the English language as much as I do, this whole kerfuffle has had my brain running in overdrive to find and use other old saws that could be misinterpreted as offensive.