It Doesn't Matter if "Both Sides Do It"

Over at The Daily Beast, Kirsten Powers responds to liberal furor over Rush Limbaugh with a little strawmanning:

Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts. There have been boycotts by people on the left who are outraged that these guys still have jobs. Oh, wait. Sorry, that never happened.

Boycotts are reserved for people on the right like Rush Limbaugh, who finally apologized Saturday for calling a 30-year-old Georgetown Law student, Sandra Fluke, a “slut” after she testified before congress about contraception.

But if Limbaugh’s actions demand a boycott—and they do—then what about the army of swine on the left?

None of Rush Limbaugh’s critics have argued that there isn’t any misogyny on the left, nor have they argued that it shouldn’t be confronted. But with the possible exception of Chris Matthews, none of the people cited by Powers have anywhere near the reach and influence of Limbaugh, who commands 20 million listeners and can—if he chooses—veto the political agenda of a major political party. Democrats might like Ed Schultz, but they aren’t under any pressure to kowtow to his demands, or apologize for transgressions.

Of course, the question of whether there is a liberal equivalent to Limbaugh is immaterial to the controversy. Limbaugh’s attacks don’t become less bad if liberals are also guilty of sexism—the left could be a cesspool of misogyny, and Limbaugh’s vitriol would still be wrong and offensive. Powers’ misguided quest to prove that “both sides do it” is a testament to what happens when your moral vision is clouded by the desire to be right. On this score, David Frum has wise words:

Why not respond to an indecent act on its own terms, and then – if there’s another indecency later – react to that too, and on its own terms?

That seems like a better strategy than pointing fingers and hoping to get off the hook.