You may recall that when Joe Wurzelbacher was approached by Barack Obama entirely accidentally, he became something of a political celebrity for having a philosophical disagreement with the president over spreading the wealth around and all that. Before long, the mainstream press went to battle stations to discredit the man. He didn’t even have a plumber’s license! (didn’t need one in Ohio). He had financial problems! He was a fraud! An astroturf plant! Blah blah blah. The Democrats, likewise, were unrestrained in their efforts to ridicule the man. Here’s Joe Biden ridiculing Wurzelbacher (and offering a tendentious argument about taxes): [See update below]
Meanwhile, here’s Sandra Fluke a 30-year-old law student and committed political operative and activist. And yet the mainstream press can’t muster the slightest skepticism about her efforts.
Even Jake Tapper, easily among the fairest of MSM reporters, treats Fluke with kid gloves as if she’s simply a victim of history (note: I think she was an unfair victim of Limbaugh’s ill-advised and offensive attacks, but she has to be delighted with how successful she’s been over the last month). I don’t begrudge Fluke her efforts. She’s an activist and she seized the opportunity presented to her by Congressional Democrats and the press.
Still, I think the comparison is interesting in numerous ways. When average citizens are thrust into the political debate, they are heroes — if they confirm prevailing liberal arguments. When they run against the grain of the preferred narrative, they are ground down, caricatured, and treated to corrosive media skepticism.
Obviously, there are differences between the two cases. Some are relevant, some aren’t. If you think Fluke is special because she’s a woman, that’s awfully chivalrous of you (and I might even agree!). But such old-fashioned deference to the delicate sensibilities of women is not exactly a pose we’re told feminists of Fluke’s stripe support. Moreover, as Kirsten Powers notes in an excellent column, such deference to the fairer sex is not a standard liberals support when the woman in question is a conservative.