He brands himself, ever so immodestly, as "America's Lawyer" -- though conservative Americans would be well advised to seek legal counsel elsewhere. More accurately, he is "Liberal Americans' Unhinged Barrister."
Papantonio, who co-hosts the "Ring of Fire" radio show with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Sam Seder, gave a textbook example of why he such rebranding is necessary when he was more over the top than usual while a guest on "The Ed Show" earlier this week. (Video after the jump)
As if reading from a script they'd shared before the show, guest host Michael Eric Dyson and Papantonio were in vigorous, head-nodding agreement that the inexplicable Republican reluctance to embrace big government without reservation is the underlying reason for a fringe extremist couple killing two police officers and a Wal-Mart customer in Las Vegas.
Dyson did himself no favors by undercutting his premise right out of the gate -- "Let's get it straight right now -- rhetoric matters. No politician or commentator is responsible for the tragic murders in Las Vegas -- Amanda and Jerad Miller are. However, conservatives rush to make totalitarian comparisons but run from responsibility when blood hits the ground."
In other words, no politician or commentator is responsible for the tragic murders in Las Vegas -- unless he or she is a conservative. Have I mentioned that Dyson teaches sociology at Georgetown? Go figure.
His first guest, Nevada political journalist and TV host Jon Ralston, also urged caution before emulating Dyson in wanting it both ways. Even though conservatives have "cultivated this environment" that led to the killings in Las Vegas, "I don't think we can go too far yet, there's a lot of information to come out about the Millers." In other words, let's wait until we learn more -- and then we can go too far.
Next it was Papantonio's turn and the man who quickly comes to mind when Americans think "ambulance chaser" didn't disappoint. After Dyson played a clip of Jerad Miller interviewed on Al Jazeera America, saying "I'm not afraid of death, I'm afraid of being a slave, I'm afraid of living under tyranny" and of his nieces and nephews inheriting "$50,000 in tax debt" from the day they are born, Dyson asked, "Don't these words sound like a lot of politicians we're heard before?" Papantonio's response --
It is the place of origin, Michael, that's what you're talking about here, I agree with you, the place of origin for anti-government poison has been generated not only by the government hate talk that comes from the regular suspects like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or not even maybe the hostility that's spewed by the mouths from Fox News types like Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham. We have to be honest about what's happening here. It used to be this was fringe, crazy talk. Now it's mainstream. Now, look, Amanda and Jerad committed the murders, but for the Republican, the leadership in the Republican Party to say we have no responsibility is almost dark humor. From, look, they created this whole notion. How did they do it? They did it by repeating these narratives. We've heard them, Michael, you've reported on them, MSNBC has carried these stories forever, that government created death panels, how about that? Where was that created? That was created not just by the hate talkers on radio or TV, it was created by Republican leadership. The government has built FEMA prison camps for vocal critics -- where did that come from? It came from the Michele Bachmanns and the Sarah Palins, repeated again and again, anti-government. Or the government has a plan to take our guns and make us their subjects. Where did that come from? Rush Limbaugh says it, Glenn Beck says it, more importantly, the leadership in the Republican Party has used those very kinds of words.
Much as I hate to admit this, Papantonio could have a point here -- those claims about "death panels" were pretty reckless, and it is high time that Howard Dean steps forward and claims his share of responsibility.
Among the many things I find amusing about Papantonio is his expansive definition of "leadership." For example, his strained argument requires that Papantonio place Michele Bachmann atop the Republican hierarchy. Meanwhile here on earth, Bachmann has decided against running for re-election and will leave Congress in January. You may recall that she dropped out of the 2012 presidential campaign after finishing sixth in Iowa, a considerable setback in her efforts to join GOP leadership. Palin, on the other hand, was one of the party's leaders -- nearly six years ago when she was McCain's running mate. The following year, after the 2008 loss, Palin resigned before completing her first term as governor of Alaska, and she has not held office since. This is not to suggest that Palin, who turned 50 this year and is younger than Obama, can be ruled out as a possible future leader in the GOP. But she's not there now and hasn't been in several years.
So when President Obama worries aloud about national debt getting dumped on future generations, is he abetting homicidal maniacs too?
Turn back the clock three years and Dyson, Papantonio, et al., were saying nearly the same thing after the Tucson massacre, claiming that the target sites on a Palin PAC website, along with sundry other GOP "rhetoric," had caused Jared Loughner to go on a rampage.
Only two things resulted as I recall, at least in media -- MSNBC gave Keith Olbermann the boot and ordered Ed Schultz to rename his "Psycho Talk" segment, which he did, temporarily. Four months later he was demeaning Laura Ingraham as a slut.
Having rendered claims of racism threadbare through pathological overuse, liberals are taking a new tack in their perennial efforts to silence conservatives -- criticize any aspect of government that they hold dear and it's your fault the next time some lunatic goes berserk.
You know the world's been turned upside down when law-and-order conservatives are accused of encouraging cop killers -- while the first people to allege profiling, brutality and other abuses in law enforcement are suddenly concerned for the safety of police officers.