(Two invaluable political lessons in one little story.)
You wouldn't normally think of Vermont as a font of anti-Obama racism. Hey, this is the state of Ben and Jerry, isn't it? The state that sends Bernie Sanders and Pat Leahy to Washington? The state of ex-hippies munching granola and smoking their not-so-secret stashes?
Well, yes. But you never know where the poison is going to start seeping out, and it happened here in green, socialist Vermont. On Sunday, one of our regular readers at Green Mountain Daily (left-leaning group blog) noticed that the Rutland County Republican Committee had a Facebook page, and on the page was the following "joke":
Just wanted you to know - today I received my 2012 Social Security Stimulus Package. It continued two tomato seeds, cornbread mix, a prayer rug, a machine to blow smoke up my butt, 1 discount coupons to KFC, an "Obama Hope & Change" bumper sticker, and a "Blame it on Bush" poster for the front yard. The directions were in Spanish. Watch for yours soon.Our reader, pen name ntoddpax, had written to the keeper of the Facebook page to complain, and received a series of replies that defended the "joke" as "comedy…based in reality," "not too far from the truth," and "funny and scary at the same time."
After the jump: Two days of Republican squirming, followed by abject surrender.
Soon after we reported on this at GMD, the "joke" was scrubbed from the Rutland County Republican Committee's Facebook page. But the chair of the RCGOP, Rob Towle, just couldn't help but keep digging the hole deeper. On Monday, he issued a clumsy blame-the-victim non-apology for the "joke," as reported at the nonprofit news site VTDigger:
I totally regret that some members of the Democratic party were offended by the satirical post on the Rutland County Facebook page yesterday. I and a few others that commented on the page did not see the possible inflammatory comments as anything other than political commentary.Classic. "I'm sorry you chose to be offended."
At this point, the kerfuffle had reached the chair of the Vermont GOP, Jack Lindley, who made it pretty clear to VTDigger that he didn't appreciate his Rutland colleagues making a public mess.
GOP chair Lindley said he “knew nothing” of the post, and had to have it read out to him over the phone. After listening to the Rutland GOP’s Facebook post, he said: “What you’ve read to me isn’t tolerated in any civil discourse anywhere in the state.”But things were getting worse for our VTGOP friends; the Huffington Post took the story to a national audience on Monday.
…Lindley noted that he had no control over the Rutland GOP Facebook page, and said he didn’t know who was in charge of their Facebook presence, saying, finally: “If I had any control over it whatsoever, that would never see the light of day. But I have no control over it, obviously.”
Sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, the entire RCGOP Facebook page was removed. On Tuesday, NBCNews.com ran its own story on the mess. And Tuesday afternoon, Towle went into all-out damage control mode and issued a real apology. 48 hours late.
I want to let everyone know that I am truly sorry about the stupid and insensitive post that I reposted to the Rutland County page Sunday. It was a case of bad judgement (sic) and anyone that knows me, knows that the post does not reflect my personal values, nor does it in any way reflect the values or beliefs of any GOP official, Candidate, GOP worker, or any person that I am friends with or associate with. …Which begs many questions, including: if the "stupid and insensitive post" did not reflect Towle's values or those of any other Republican in any way, shape or form, then why the hell did he put it on the damn Facebook page in the first place? And why did the page administrator defend the "joke" at first?
In writing this statement (with a heavy heart and great sorrow), I hope this message will reach those offended and will take this apology for face value and find it in their hearts to forgive.
The Republicans are trying to get the hang of this social-media thing, but it keeps eluding them. And no matter how many times a conservative gets torched for posting or e-mailing jokes about fried chicken, watermelon, or bones in the nose, they just can't help themselves.
Lesson #1, which some Republicans will somehow ignore (again): Don't post offensive material through social media! Sooner or later, it'll come to light.
Lesson #2: If you screw up, get out in front and apologize fully and sincerely. Right away. Otherwise, the stain and stench will remain for a long time after your belated cleanup.