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December 14, 2008 05:08 PM UTC

Sympathy For The "Mad Cow"

  • by: Colorado Pols

In addition to many other talents, Denver Post editor Dan Haley plays the violin.

The liberal blogosphere and online squawkers chattered for weeks about ousted Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave’s decidedly unclassy exit from politics.

Musgrave, as you’ll recall, lost to Betsy Markey in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in one of the ugliest, down-and-dirty contests we’ve seen in quite awhile.

Immediately afterward, she “disappeared.” Even though her silence was the long-awaited answer to years of Democrats’ prayers, it nonetheless didn’t sit well.

A drumbeat of discontent began: She hasn’t officially conceded. She hasn’t thanked her staff. She hasn’t even thanked her supporters.

CNN reporters giggled on air about it; Newsweek declared her a “sore loser.”

Knowing Musgrave, and knowing that she was better than that, we even called her out on the editorial page. “It’s understandable to be upset, even embarrassed,” we wrote. “But we expect at least a modicum of civility from our elected officials.”

Then, last week, she spoke.

And those online squawkers immediately smacked her upside the head with a two-by-four…within hours of her column being posted on, Musgrave was called a “horrible, deceiving woman,” “scum,” a “hateful bigot,” an “embarrassment to Colorado,” a “mad cow” and “bad rubbish.”

Her detractors had taken the quasi-olive branch she extended, albeit a few weeks late, sharpened it and poked it right back in her eye.

Merry Christmas to you, too.

…Musgrave ticked off the wrong people by trying to cement her idea of traditional marriage into the Constitution, and they spent millions to tear her down, to dehumanize her.

It worked. People now have a visceral, hateful reaction to Musgrave on sight – issues be damned. It was rarely gay marriage that she was attacked for in TV ads. Instead, it was personal. Ill-fitting pink dresses and claims she didn’t support the troops.

That’s what this is about. The politics of personal destruction. And now that she’s gone, they’re still poking at the body, as if it’s not human…

“I have a great life,” she said. “I’m gonna be fine.”

She may be fine, but the political discourse in this state is not.

Our view: there was a very emotional reaction among liberals to Musgrave’s long sought defeat, and the national headline-making embarrassment of her post-defeat conduct provided a justifiable opening for a whole new level of dancing upon Musgrave’s, erm, grave. Whatever may have been done to “dehumanize” Musgrave over the long years campaigning against her is irrelevant: she made herself the butt of her final joke, no help needed. And the “poking at the body” will certainly end, albeit with some predictable parting shots from the left, now that Musgrave was good enough to let the world know she’s not dead.

This episode doesn’t leave us particularly fearful for “the political discourse in this state.” We have other more immediate concerns about that.

In fact, it’s our understanding that politics was a fairly rough-and-tumble business long before the advent of “online squawkers,” but with the institutional memory at the Post being what it is these days it’s possible nobody was around to remind Haley of this.


39 thoughts on “Sympathy For The “Mad Cow”

  1. I’m happy to see someone is writing what I’m thinking.  Marilyn Musgrave paid the price for her ugly campaign and for whatever she did or didn’t do in her district.  She lost.  Move on.  

    1. Did you? Because Haley would have a point if the speech had actually been conciliatory in nature. It wasn’t. It was anything but gracious.

      And after living in her district and being the subject of abysmal representation for the last 6 years, the response to her “concession” speech is about what she and Haley should expect.  

      1. and if it was “anything but gracious”, again, she lost. Should lack of graciousness be met with equal amounts of lack of graciousness?

        Vitriol and name calling does not move the agenda of the people who oppose her forward. I have no more interest in their opinions than in hers.  Politics might be “rough and tumble” but does it have to be hateful and juvenile?  

          1. as “ungracious”, so are you saying if I read it, I’d agree she should be called a “Mad Cow”? If that doesn’t meet the definition of hateful and juvenile, I wouldn’t want to see what does.

            1. Sorry-things get lost in blogging, I think. What I meant was I’d like you to read it and then tell me what you think. Seriously. I respect your opinion and I think you know that.

              And I would also say this–yes, calling anyone a “Mad Cow” is pretty damn low.

              I would also suggest that giving yourself consistent, sweet ass raises for the last 6 years while voting against giving return war vets a crappy $1500 bonus is pretty damn low. Voting against the National Guard being given full health benefits unless they are actively being shot at is also pretty damn low. Making discrimination against a group of people the focal point of your time in office is pretty damn low. Comparing Teri Schiavo to a fucking snowflake and diagnosing her on the floor of the House is pretty damn low.

              Consistently voting with and defending Bush’s policies in Iraq isn’t just pretty damn low–it’s sick, considering what we’ve done to that country and to its inhabitants.

              So, if you see some people venting their rage here and it disturbs you, that’s understandable, even regrettable. Nearly as regrettable as Musgrave’s horrific “representation” of my district for the last 6 years.  

              1. would I spend my precious time reading something so dull as a “concession” speech. Since you goaded, er, asked, I’d say it struck me as the obituary one would write if one wrote their own obituary.

                I don’t know the particulars on each bill Marilyn voted for or against.  Did the bills with the $1500 bonus and health benefits contain something so egregious she couldn’t vote for them, or does she not care about veterans?  It’s no secret I disagree vehemently with her stance on gay marriage, but I’ve known D’s and R’s who think like she does, and they aren’t evil. I don’t know her, so I can’t say what is, or isn’t in her heart.  But I have known other office holders who have been skewered, poked, made the butt of jokes and called names that would have had your Mom and mine reaching for the bar of soap.  And they are intelligent, accomplished, genuinely nice people. But not in here. In the blogosphere, they are buffoons, jokes,and dullards with no hearts or brains.

                So if I don’t jump in and snicker at the Oh so clever “Mad Cow” insults, and if I’m happy when someone else notices how ugly it is, maybe you can understand it.

                I have no beef with you Middle and I respect your opinion as well. Haley’s column wasn’t so much about Marilyn (for me) as it was about what passes for political discourse these days.

                So how about I let you have your rant and you let me have mine, then we click our glasses and toast the New Year?:)

    2. As a straight who’s been happily married to his first wife for decades and a lifelong backer of civil rights for all, I back gay marriage and civil unions.

      But it’s been really hard to support gays and gay marriage this year in the face of the nastiest, most juvenile attacks on Musgrave and others who share her beliefs that I’ve seen in a long time.

      When will the gay community realize that if it wants to be treated like adults, it has to grow up, win the support of voters and take defeat gracefully.

      Demographics are moving your way. You may be inpatient, but don’t cause a backlash by acting like spoiled brats.

      1. That’s why Musgrave lost so very, very badly.

        You can’t read the huge Markey victory as anything other than a victory for gay people. Seems like their strategy has worked.

          1. why they voted Musgrave out. I’ll bet no more than a tiny fraction mentions gay marriage. She lost for plenty of reasons that had nothing to do with that.

            1. When I talked to unaffiliated voters in Longmont, the ones who disliked Musgrave seemed to be very much aware of her stance on gay marriage, and didn’t like it. Not that they were necessarily in favor of gay marriage; most of them just thought it was a stupid thing to be so focused on.

              I’d think if one commissioned a poll, one would find most people saying something like, “She was so focused on cultural issues like  gay marriage that she was never able to do anything useful.”

        1.  Don’t make this about the gays.  Musgrave was an unliked, ineffective politician with a myopic view of the world.  Her problem wasn’t that she was against gay marriage, it was that it was one of very few issues she was focused on.  She completely ignored issues like economics, fiscal responsibility and transportation – just to name a few.  On top of that, she is abrasive and arrogant.

          The democrats finally came up with a candidate that wasn’t completely intolerable and she was elected.  The election wasn’t decided by liberals, it was decided by conservatives that were fed up with Musgrave’s attitude and actions.  Markey was finally a candidate that could be stomached.  

      2. Asking the “gay community” to grow up is like asking Americans to sit down and shut up. Not going to happen. Why? This country is to damn diverse and there isn’t anyone who commands the respect of every single one of us or even 95% of us. There is no living George Washington. The ‘gay community’ is just a cross section of America brought together by necessity and so we’re just like the county pushed one step to the left by rejection by the right. There isn’t any sort of gay high council that can make all of us do things.

        If the head of the Republican Party told you to stop embarrassing the party by saying that you support civil unions would you do it?

      3. Which is worse: Calling someone names, or trying to codify discrimination against a group of people in the constitution?

        I may call Musgrave a Mad Cow, and drink a toast to her defeat, but I would never, ever attempt to deny her a right to marriage, a right ot vote or say that an employer should be free to fire her based on an immutable trait.

  2. She didn’t, IIRC.  Her lack of civility will remain her greatest note, even more than her marriage frothing.

    She’s still fair game, at least until January 6th (?).  

  3. She’s (and her supporters) are about as ungracious as they come. Reading this reminded me of this video from ’06, clips of which were used in this cycle:

  4. You die by the sword. And in this case it was Musgrave’s own sword that killed her, however sorry she feels for herself.

    And so Musgrave’s high-octane rhetoric and three cycles of her character assassination tactics finally backfired. Was there going to be some Schadenfreude afterwards? You bet.

    But just when everyone was done with Marilyn, Haley had to start it all over again with his “tut tutting.” But the “poor, poor Marilyn” stuff isn’t going to sell very well.  

    1. These defenders all ignore the fact that the anti-Markey campaign coming from the Musgrave side was just as nasty, if not worse than, anything thrown at Musgrave. If Musgrave’s behavior after the election were not a little unusual the national media wouldn’t have particularly noticed.  Musgrave brought this on herself.  When you lose by 12 points that’s a legitimate loss.  The voters rejected her decisively.  She is not a poor little innocent victim.

  5. was one of minor political differences. It wasn’t. She wanted to put discrimination against a class of citizens into the constitution.

    I’m willing to say that her way late concession speech met at least the minimum expected. But that does not turn her into a good person. She’s still a bigot.

    With that said, I do think we should let her go – she’s over.

    1. an

      online squawker [who] immediately smacked her upside the head with a two-by-four

      Though, to be fair, the comments on the Denver Post site attached to Musgrave’s column did pretty much the same thing.

      Question: Has Haley ever read the comments to anything on his newspaper’s site? If he’s really suddenly worried about “political discourse in this state,” he’s a little late to the game.

      (It also looks like the Post fixed a few of Musgrave’s typos.)

      1. If my institutional memory serves me right, on this blog, we only attack each viciously. We are extraordinarily polite to everyone else.

        I believe that we have been unfairly maligned by implication by Dan Haley.

        I say online squawkers unit!

  6. I’m not here to say whether or not Musgrave deserved the unkind words.

    I’m here to ask a question: Does anybody recall the Denver Post ever speaking out before on how awful it was that other politicians have received vilification?  

  7. On page 2T of today’s Denver Post, there is a note about literary tours of ye olde England, including one to see where Benjamin Johnson wrote the first comprehensive English Dictionary.  Except it wasn’t Benjamin Johnson, it was Samuel Johnson. what the f….???

    The Post let their internet  access expire??? They can’t google? First, the editorial board declares a fetus is a person, then BE sinks into the setting sun; then Haley becomes the champion of poor misunderstood MM and NOW, they are rewriting history…

    Where the hell is Woody Paige when you need him.

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