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April 09, 2014 4:27 PM Neal Boortz and Lancelot

By Ed Kilgore

Amanda Marcotte draws attention today to a couple of characteristically obnoxious tweets from former long-time right-wing radio talk host Neal Boortz—now a “commentator”—about the Democratic “pay equity” offensive. Boortz suggests that women must be dumber than he thought if they are buying this “war on women” bushwa. And so Marcotte responds:

Boortz has really two choices to pick from here:
1) Accept that there’s mountains of real world reasons to believe sexism exists and is supported full-throatedly by the Republicans. Admit that you support Republicans because you are sexist yourself and honestly believe that our economic and health care policies should be shaped with the goal of punishing women for stepping outside of Victorian era gender norms.
2) Deny all the real world evidence of sexism. Deny that you are personally sexist by invoking a hoary misogynist stereotype about women being stupid and easy to manipulate, thereby proving yourself a delusional liar in one fell swoop.
In both cases, you come across as a sexist. But with #2, you come across as a sexist idiot.

Being from Atlanta, I was exposed to Boortz’s act far too often over a period of four decades (before he turned over his syndicated radio show to Herman Cain). For one thing, he was always one of those radio hacks who would if cornered retreat into the “I’m just an entertainer” defense. For another, his exceptionally smug persona (like Rush Limbaugh’s) depended on appearing just “smart” enough to convince his loyal listeners he (and by extension, they) were smarter than a liberal opposition they never actually heard.

So Boortz is used to a pretty low threshold to meet in conveying the impression of being a smart guy. He kind of reminds me of the main character in Walker Percy’s novel Lancelot, who confessed how easy it was to earn a reputation as an intellectual on the LSU football team shortly after World War II:

Being “smart” on the football team meant that you read Time magazine and had heard of the Marshall Plan. (“You don’t think he can tell you about the Marshall Plan? Ask him! He’s one more smart sapsucker!”)

I’m sure Boortz could not possibly care less whether he has even a ghost of a coherent or rational argument for his misogyny. To his fans, he’s one more smart sapsucker.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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