Rush Limbaugh attacked journalist Connie Schultz on his show this week, calling Connie a "ditz." He referred to her as "a stupid person" and called her "blitheringly ignorant." (For the record, "blitheringly" is not actually a word.) He went on to call the women's summit "a joke" and then continued his character insults of the Pulitzer Prize-winning wife of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown by adding "Maybe she doesn't have an IQ of three figures. Maybe she can't crack 100 on an I.Q. test." (The complete audio of his commentary is available on this link at Media Matters.)
What did Ms. Connie do to deserve this attack? She appeared on C-Span's Washington Journal, and responded to a question about Limbaugh:
C-Span's Steve Scully: "We had a caller mention Rush Limbaugh and others. What do you think of Limbaugh?"
Connie Schultz: "Rush Limbaugh in particular is, there's so much hate there, and it fuels people who want to be angry who just want to hate. Certainly now, in our country there is so little productive outcome from that. We can talk about this as human beings. When I am angry, when I am all worked up, I am not my best self. My vision is affected in terms of how I see things. My opinions are distorted by my rage. I don't think it is ever a good idea to just fuel rage in people."
When Connie was asked a direct question about Limbaugh, she did not engage in name-calling or personal attacks. She expressed her opinion of the controversial conservative by taking her own inventory and examining her personal experiences of "getting worked up" and striving to become "her best self."
The exchange between these two is like a page from the old Highlights for Children cartoons of Goofus and Gallant: When Goofus disagrees with someone, he calls them names and resorts to personal character attacks. When Gallant disagrees with someone, he asks how he can improve himself to make things better.
While most of us can agree nasty name-callers deserve a little stint in the Time-Out chair, I, for one, hope this exchange is treated as a teaching moment for the conservatives. If the folks on the right can find a new crop of leaders who speak with respect, and are willing to engage in an exchange of ideas without all the vitriol, our country will gain the maturity and insight befitting our shared sense of national pride. Then we will be able to work together to build a better future for all.