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  Richard Dreyfuss Takes a Bite Out of CPAC, Preaching Civics and Civility

Posted on February 19 2011 3:00 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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This popular post was originally published February 11, 2011.

NRB’s Kathy Shaidle recently reminded us of the folly of too quickly endorsing celebrities who espouse conservative views. It is a sentiment that was likewise expressed by S.E. Cupp this week on her new internet radio show. In short, we are constantly looking for conservative heroes, and thus constantly setting ourselves up for disappointment. Cupp astutely evoked the one-time fervor behind “Scott Brown for President” as an example. Words are cheap. Our judgment should be reserved for actions.

Hollywood curmudgeon Richard Dreyfuss presents a similar disclaimer before waxing political. He shared it in a Poliwood interview with PJTV’s Roger L. Simon at CPAC.

I think that there is, in America, an inexplicably ecstatic view of Hollywood celebrity which is in direct proportion to the contempt we feel for celebrity, so that you can be elected governor, and you can be told to “get the hell out of my hotel.” And that co-exists in our minds.

So whenever, as a young celebrity [when] I used to get on talk shows, I would say you should mistrust everything I’m about to say. I have been vetted and praised in a certain art form, and I’ve been given the right to sit here and spout my political beliefs. Just because of that, you should mistrust what I say. But I’m a big believer in Richard, and I think I’m real smart. So I’m going to tell you my political beliefs, because I’ve been asked. But that doesn’t mean you have to believe it. And I’ve said that at every talk show I’ve ever done.

It is with this disclaimer in mind that we ought to consider The Dreyfuss Initiative, “a nonprofit corporation formed to revive, elevate and enhance the teaching of civics in the United States of America.” Doug Powers of asks the obvious question.

Why is Dreyfuss the one leading the “new tone” effort?…

Our new chief of toning down the rhetoric was asked if MSNBC’s Ed Schultz crossed the line of civility in violation of “the new tone” when he called Dick Cheney an “enemy of the country,” a “dirtbag,” a “freakin’ loser” and wished Cheney would go to the “promised land” — in other words, just die already. Rather than denounce it, Dreyfuss said Schultz’s opinion was “beautifully phrased.”

In fairness to Dreyfuss, when he excused Schultz’s comments, he was presented with a concise excerpt which did not include the “dirtbag” or “freakin loser” epithets. Regardless, there is certainly an argument to be made that Dreyfuss was violating his espoused principle. As it turns out, Dreyfuss admits as much.

I feel I was wrong. I feel I overstepped my bounds, and should never have [defended Schultz’s comment], and should never have given the public even the perception that I was as nakedly hypocritical as it sounds… I said I’m for civility and I broke my own rule.

Fair enough.

Next: So what is The Dreyfuss Initiative?…

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