“That’s why it’s a little absurd to hear Limbaugh point out disapprovingly that my book Wingnuts itself uses a label to describe the use of fear and hate by hyper-partisans. Its funny how quickly people who throw around labels for a living (“feminazi,” for example) cry foul when a term like “wingnut” is directed at them. But bullies are always shocked when you punch back.”
—Author and “No Labels” co-founder John Avlon, in his essay, “My War With Rush Limbaugh”
John Avlon has recently joined with a mostly moderate Democratic group to launch the “No Labels” movement, supposedly dedicated to moving political debate away from uncivil name-calling and personal demonization. This is awkward for a pundit who has thus far made his reputation with a book called Wingnuts, which is a dismissive and derisive L-A-B-E-L he attaches to politicians he disagrees with, mostly Tea Party members and any elected official who opposes abortion.
The quoted passage shows how Avlon’s principled aversion to labels only holds up until he determines that a demonizing label like “bully” and “people who throw around labels for a living” makes lively copy and is an effective rhetorical tool, which is why any partisan warrior uses the labels Avlon’s group has decreed are bad for America.
You see, John, someone who throws around labels in political discourse because he believes, as Limbaugh had repeatedly explained, nothing is wrong with using labels, cannot be assailed for a lack of integrity. One who uses labels to attack such a person, however, while fronting a group that maintains that the use of insulting labels degrade political debate and divide Americans, shows no integrity and invites the conclusion that he is a hypocritical fraud….especially when he continues to hawk a book that is devoted entirely to labeling others “wingnuts.”
“Hypocritical fraud.” If the label sticks, wear it.
7 thoughts on “Hypocritical Quote of the Year: John Avlon”
I agree that “wingnuts” sounds like a label, but I don’t think you ought to label “No Labels” a “mostly moderate Democratic group .” With David Frum and Mark McKinnon among its founding leaders, the group deserves to be called non-partisan, especially as that’s a major point of emphasis for them. This is from their statement of purpose. It doesn’t sound “mostly Democratic” to me.
No Labels does not believe we need to search for better values or principles.
The solution is even simpler: we must return to the essence of our beliefs. Most Americans in the vital center of our still great country believe that:
Americans are entitled to a government and a political system that works – driven by shared purpose and common sense.
Americans deserve a government that makes the necessary choices to rein in runaway deficits, secure Social Security and Medicare, and put our country on a viable, sound path going forward.Americans support a government that works to spur employment and economic opportunity by encouraging free and open markets, tempered by sensible regulation.
Americans want a government that empowers people with the tools for success – from a world-class education to affordable healthcare – provided that it does so in a fiscally prudent way.
America should be free from discrimination and should embrace the principle of equal opportunity.
America must be strong and safe, ready and able to protect itself in a world of multiple dangers and uncertainties.
The No Labels movement was born out of support for these shared goals, and we are committed to helping our nation remain true to these values that we all profess in an environment, which encourages fact-based discussions.
We are not labels – we are people.
We must put our labels aside,
And put the issues and what’s best for the nation first.
A promising future awaits us.
Mark McKinnon, who very publicly withdrew from McCain’s campaign because he would not “attack Obama” is no friend of Republicans, even if he still calls himself a Republican See story here: (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/02/mccain-adviser.html). That leaves David Frum, who spends most of his time attacking Republicans for being too conservative. Jack was being too generous by calling it “mostly” Democrat. It is overwhelmingly Democrat.
Frum is looking for clients. McKinnon is looking for a gig. This effort may well harm the goal of civility, because it is soooooo very cynical and self-serving.
It’s mostly Democrats, Bob. They’re taking the lead on it, and the Republicans are add-ons. Of the people you have heard of, more that 75% are Democrats or Republicans turned media whores.
Avlon proved what I wrote about the so-called movement in the previous post (which wasn’t helped by the fact that it’s key sentence was completely mangled by a badly-placed typo):
“No Labels” is either a cynical and disingenuous exercise or an inept one. How do we distinguish between unfair and disrespectful name calling, the “politics of personal destruction,” and telling the truth—or what one sincerely believes to be the truth—to the American people? Was Huey Long a demagogue? Were Bill Clinton, or Richard Blumenthal, or Dick Cheney, liars? Is Carl Paladino a homophobic bigot? Is Charlie Rangel unethical? Labels are often essential in political debate, discussion, and reporting. The civil use them judiciously and fairly; the uncivil use them recklessly and dishonestly to stir up extreme emotions and diminish an opponents credibility. But whether the use of a label is civil or uncivil often depends on what you think about the attacker and the target. “No Labels” is a cynical exercise by a mostly Democratic group attempting to suppress the use of unflattering descriptors of members of their party when the heat got to be uncomfortable. After all, the group didn’t decide labels were destructive when George Bush was being called a liar, a moron, a fascist, a warmonger, and a drunk…or before the election, when Tea Party supporters were being regularly derided as racists. Barack Obama being called a socialist, however—well, we just can’t have that. With some hesitation, however, I will give the “No Labels” organizers the benefit of the doubt and declare the effort merely inept. Civility is worth fighting for, but the emphasis on labels is dumb and self-defeating. Labels are tools, and like any tools, they can be used appropriately or badly. Declaring them inherently wrong because they can be used to excess or to mislead is foolish, and banning them from political discourse is futile, as Scarborough’s column shows.” (https://ethicsalarms.com/2010/12/05/joe-scarborough-sarah-palin-and-no-labels/)
Avlon now follows Scarborough to show that both Olbermann and Limbaugh had their effort pegged perfectly: it is aimed at tamping down criticism of what they say and support, while allowing them to use labels as they sit fit, because those labels are, of course, accurate and fair. “Turn down the volume”? Sure. “Choose Civility”? Absolutely. “No Labels”? Baloney.
A transparent fraud. When Avlon pulls his own book, contributes his royalties to the “Choose Civility” effort and condemns his work for doing what he claims he currently deplores, I’ll reconsider.
Hmmm. Are “Republicans turned media whores” not Republicans? Is media whore a label? Are there any “Democrats turned media whores”? You’ve opened up a new world of labels, Jack.
Yes. George Stephanopoulis is a “Democrat turned media whore,” which means that his biases are more atuned now to winning ratings wars than winning election. Eliot Spitzer. Chris Matthews. Like RTMW’s—Huckabee, for example—they have duel and sometimes dueling motivations.
Katie Couric? Brian Williams? Tom Brokaw? Anderson Cooper? Major Garrett? Bill O’Reilly? Chris Wallace? Jon Stewart? Christiane Amanpour? Saint Rush? All of them MW’s?