Members of both political parties use sharp elbows to rough up and discredit the opposition, but the media are supposed to call “foul” on the worst abuses. But when the media are ideologically opposed to conservatives — especially minority conservatives — the abuses sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
Take what happened last week to New Hampshire state representative Marilinda Garcia, who announced she would challenge incumbent Democratic representative Annie Kuster in a highly competitive district that has switched party control in three of the last four elections.
Democrats were clearly rattled by the 30-year-old Garcia’s entry. Democratic-party communications director Harrell Kirstein said she would inevitably be part of a “reckless race to pander to the same extreme right fringe of the Republican Party that forced the federal government shutdown.” He called her a “loyal rubber-stamp” for the “irresponsible” agenda of former GOP house speaker Bill O’Brien.
Tough but in bounds.
But then prominent Democratic state representative Peter Sullivan, a self-described leader of the legislature’s “progressive” bloc, entered the picture. Using his Twitter account, he compared her unfavorably to O’Brien and conservative state representative Al Baldasaro this way:
She’s Al Baldassaro [Sullivan misspelled his name] in stiletto heels, a lightweight and O’Brien clone.
Bill O’Brien + Kim Kardashian = Marilinda Garcia
She is a right-wing, homophobic, anti-worker shill for the Koch Brothers.
Sullivan’s sexist comments drew fire from some blogs. Twitchy.com noted that describing Garcia as a male lawmaker in “in stiletto heels” suggests she’s merely masquerading as a woman and that Sullivan, with the Kardashian comparison, was “not-so-subtly tying Garcia to a woman who rose to fame as the star of a sex tape.” GOP state representative Jane Cormier said her Democratic colleague “owed all women an apology for bringing sexist and demonizing remarks into the political process here in NH.”
Garcia has a “pretty significant political résumé,” Cormier pointed out. She was elected for the first time in 2006 and currently serves on the House Finance Committee. Previously, she served as co-chair of a House caucus and as a majority whip. In 2010, she received a master’s of public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. As an accomplished harp player, she is an adjunct professor of music at several universities.
Her sin in the eyes of progressives is that she is both an economic and a social conservative. She told Katie Pavlich of Townhall magazine in 2011 that she doesn’t think you can separate those two aspects of conservatism and that she expects “to be able to preserve limited government and basically individual freedom.” Those who don’t have a strong family structure or community support system logically turn to the government for help, she added.
There was virtually no media coverage of Sullivan’s sexist smears inside New Hampshire, much less nationally. If a Hispanic woman who was a Democrat or progressive had been similarly attacked, you can bet it would have been on a continuous loop at MSNBC, much as that network ran footage of the moment when GOP senator Marco Rubio took a sip of water during his response to President Obama’s State of the Union message earlier this year. MSNBC replayed what it called Rubio’s “Watergate” a mind-numbing 155 times in the 24 hours following the incident — an average of six times per hour. Hmmm. It’s almost as if liberals were desperate to discredit a Hispanic GOP political star who might run for president someday.
The lack of media attention may explain Sullivan’s reaction when some onlookers criticized his slurs — he refused to apologize to Garcia and doubled down:
After careful consideration, I want to apologize to Kim Kardashian for comparing her to a right-wing extremist like Marilinda Garcia.
He then closed his Twitter account to anyone outside his approved social circle. Representative Kuster, Garcia’s Democratic opponent, has taken advantage of the lack of media coverage and ignored calls for her to repudiate Sullivan’s remarks.