Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beyond the pale

OK, this has gone too far. And we've got Tucker Carlson of Fox News to thank for it.

Carlson, who should know better, has started flames on two landscapes with strident remarks featuring President Obama and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. He has gotten the attention of the political community and sports world with words he some day might regret uttering.

During a diatribe the other night while guest-hosting a show on the Fox News Channel, Carlson said, "I'm a Christian. I've made mistakes myself. I believe fervently in second chances, but Michael Vick killed dogs and he did [it] in a heartless and cruel way. And I think personally he should have been executed for that. He wasn't. But the idea that the President of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs [is] kind of beyond the pale."

Carlson, who couldn't hold jobs as a talk show host on CNN and MSNBC, launched the attack initially because the president telephoned Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie recently and congratulated him on giving Vick a second chance. On that point, I would agree with Carlson.

The president, who has consistently decried what Vick did, should stick to politics. It's great that he's a sports fan. But he's got much more to be concerned about than Vick receiving a second chance. Lots of people get second chances and take advantage of them. They don't receive calls from the president.

It's one thing to congratulate a team for winning a championship. Quite another to single out a player because he has made a nice comeback from serving time in prison.

Vick has been with the Eagles for almost two seasons now. Why did it take so long for the president to make his call? Why didn't he do it last season? Perhaps it's because Vick was a minor role player last season. This season, he's playing at an MVP level and eventually will recover most of the millions he lost while behind bars. Thus the call.

However, Carlson's attack on Vick was unwarranted and unnecessary. If it was his way of attacking the president, he handled it in an awkward, amateurish and foolishly unwise manner. The unfortunate aspect of it is there are those who hear his words and agree with him.

No question that what Vick did was reprehensible, unconscionable. But execution? If Carlson was going for shock value, he hit the bull's-eye. But it also was blatantly irresponsible.

Now I'm a political person and I lean both ways. I consider myself an independent who wishes a pox on both political parties. But this one clearly crossed the line.

Carlson called it beyond the pale. You bet it is. Now he should look in the mirror and see the reason why. Then give himself a second chance to right this wrong with regard to Vick.

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