The good folks on the set of Morning Joe spent Friday morning dodging prairie oysters flung by the host at rival Rush Limbaugh, who had called Joe Scarborough a "neutered, chickified moderate." Rush had simply been trying to geld another Republican who dared criticize him, but this time Scarborough gelded back and it was not a pretty sight.
It all started earlier this week, when Scarborough ripped Rush for going "off the deep end" by jiggling with glee over Obama's failure to win the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.
No forgiver of lese-majeste, Limbaugh hit back Thursday at Joe and "PMSNBC":
"I would be careful," Joe replied this morning, "if I had put my testicles in a blind trust for George W. Bush for eight years." He liked the image so much he painted it again, and again: "There are a lot of people on the right that in fact did put their testicles in a blind trust for the past eight years and stopped being conservative and started being apologists."
Eeew! on Joe's suitcase metaphor. But more eeew on Time.com's Mark Halperin and his rictal smile as it dawns on him that he's one of the apologists who Joe just sliced and diced.
More substantively, though, anybody who's been paying attention has to know that much of Scarborough's argument is laughable: Does anyone remember his principled opposition to the invasion of Iraq? Nope, because until relatively recently he was all for boots on the ground pretty much everywhere there's terra firma. And how can this former congressman-soldier in Newt Gingrich's Contract-with-America revolution (which shut down the government when President Clinton wouldn't slash Medicare funds) really claim that he represents a different kind of conservatism?
But kudos to Joe for trying to correct the prevailing, erroneous sexual math in which conservative=manly and liberal or moderate=emasculated. While this nutsy equation has been operating nationally for ages, a personal cockfight between Rush and Joe has been in the psychological works for a bit, too. As I wrote about Morning Joe's shimmying, unpredictable political tilt back in February:
You can imagine Rush and Sean taunting Joe behind the trackhouse over at WABC [Radio]: "You're not a real man, you're on MSNBC! You work with liberal girls and lesbos. Joe likes girls, Joe likes girls..." And Scarborough, who has the insecure performer's instinct for where the sympathies of 51 percent of any crowd lie, is very susceptible to hazing. (He's written, as the New York Observer points out, that he quit his frat at the University of Alabama because he didn't want to dodge Scotch bottles tossed from third-floor windows and have upperclassmen yell at him, "Hey, queerball, pick dat up!")
Joe stood up to the hazing this time, and it doesn't look like he'll blink at some later date. That's in part because the Palm Beach Penguin left him no choice--how else can a true, white male conservative react to being called "chickified"?--and also because some political taboos are loosening, with both David Brooks and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham already openly defying Rushbo.
But what's really changed is the country, which, most polls show, is no longer buying this Master of the Universe trash talk from anyone. It's pointedly funny that this kind of tea-bag-swinging is taking place just as the GOP has been getting its panties into a twist over women: Sen. John Kyl of Arizona snarling, "I don't need maternity care" in an insurance policy, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Robert McDonnell's graduate school thesis describing working women as "detrimental" to the family, and the National Republicann Congressional Committee saying, of House speaker Nancy Pelosi, that Gen. Stanley McChrystal "should put her in her place." If the real purpose of a political party is to win elections, don't you think it would go out of its way not to offend the more numerous gender?
Well, nuts to that, says Rush. Joe, however, seems to be getting it.