Glenn Beck has issued a tepid apology after mocking President Obama's 11-year-old daughter. I do not accept his apology.
Not because I am unforgiving. I don't accept it because it is halfhearted, and Beck's latest outburst is part of a larger pattern of personal attacks on the president's family.
Previously, Beck has made sexist comments about Michelle Obama's appearance, falsely asserted that Obama's parents abandoned him for Marxism, and claimed to have taken a cane from one of Obama's aunts.
During a news conference last month in which he fielded questions about the BP oil spill, Obama said Malia had asked him, "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" The next day, Beck mocked Malia and questioned her intelligence on his radio program.
Just two days earlier, commenting on an author who decided to move next door to Sarah Palin while writing a book about her, Beck said, "You don't go after Chelsea Clinton. You don't talk about the Bush kids. ... You leave the families alone."
But Beck didn't take his own advice. The following is according to a transcription by the watchdog group Media Matters for America:
Beck: [imitating Malia] Daddy, did you plug the hole yet? Daddy?
Cohost Pat Gray: [imitating the president] No, I didn't, honey.
Beck: Daddy, I know you're better than [unintelligible]. ... And I was wondering if you've plugged that hole yet.
Gray: Honey, not yet.
Beck: Why not, Daddy? But, Daddy-
Gray: Not time yet, honey. Hasn't done enough damage. ...
Beck: [continuing to imitate Malia] Why do you hate black people so much?
Gray: I'm part white, honey.
Beck: [laughing] This is such a ridiculous - this is such a ridiculous thing that his daughter - [imitating Malia] Daddy?
Gray: It's so stupid.
Beck: How old is his daughter? Like 13? ... "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" Is that's their - that's the level of their education, that they're coming to - they're coming to Daddy and saying, "Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?" Plug the hole!
Beck later issued a written statement saying: "In discussing how President Obama uses children to shield himself from criticism, I broke my own rule about leaving kids out of political debates. The children of public figures should be left on the sidelines. It was a stupid mistake and I apologize - and as a dad I should have known better."
He also should have known better than to attack the first lady. On his May 20 radio show, Beck referred to Michelle Obama's attire at a state dinner for the president of Mexico and his wife.
"When our country is - our country is economically on fire, and I think we have Julius Caesar in the White House. Did you see the picture of his wife yesterday, all dolled up? "Sex in the City" is what it said on the Drudge Report. She looks positively like she's trying to be some Greek statue. I don't think I've ever seen the first lady with her - excuse the expression - but with her breasts all smooshed up, sort of, I mean, what is that?"
On his Fox News program in March, Beck said of Obama: "His father abandoned him. Why? So he could go off to a Marxists' school in New York. Then his father left the country to go try it out. How tragic. What kind of scar does that leave on a boy?"
He went on, "Then his mother, I mean, this is - you tell me. What scar is left when the mom leaves a son who's been abandoned by his father for Marxism - leaves the son with his grandparents so she can pursue critical theory, which is Marxist? Both parents leave a boy for Marxism? And then he goes to his parents - or his grandparents. His grandparents attended the little red church, which was known for its communist teachings."
Beck discussed the visa status of an aunt of the president on Fox News in April. He said, "Obama's aunt, you know - and I took this cane from her earlier. I - it's like Tiny Tim. 'Oh, I'd like more, please, please. God bless us, every one.' She has a limp, didn't you know that? She should be able to stay."
So far, Beck has attacked Obama's wife, his daughters, his parents, his grandparents, and his aunt.
Beck was right when he said family members should be off-limits. And he's wrong when he continues his tasteless attacks on Obama's close relatives.
Beck can save his weak apologies for anyone gullible enough to believe them.
George Curry is a former Washington correspondent and New York bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.