There's nothing like a government shutdown to bring out the high-octane insults. Harry Reid calls House Republicans "fanatics" and "anarchists," Al Gore likens their strategy to "political terrorism," and White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer says the president isn't interested in "negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest.” All of which is "hyperbolic" and "inflammatory" but probably fine in terms of modern political rhetoric, writes Michelle Cottle at the Daily Beast. Here is what's not OK: Former Bush aide Matt Dowd and former Democratic Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm each have said the governments of Iran and Syria of late are sounding more rational than House Republicans.
"No. No. No. No. No," writes Cottle. "In the time-honored tradition of political labeling, you can be as nasty as you want so long as you keep the insults respectfully generic." That is, call people communists if you must, but don't compare them to Stalin. "Deride them as a dangerous anti-government lunatic, but don’t invoke the name of Timothy McVeigh." In other words, "keep it vague, people." Click for her full column. (Speaking of Iran, Jon Stewart brought up the connection last night in this rant via Salon. If Obama can "make a deal with the most intransigent, hardline, unreasonable totalitarian mullahs in the world, but not with Republicans, maybe he's not the problem," he observed.)