NewsBusters' curious concept of “debate”

It's been fun to watch the conservative blogosphere react to the ugly racism and homophobia that came to define this weekend's Tea Party protest against health care reform. In between protestations that no conservative could ever be so crude as to attack someone based on race or sexuality (demonstrating a lack of self-awareness usually observed in cuttlefish), they shrugged off the vituperative language as insignificant and demanded apologies from the Congressmen who were the targets of the attacks.

NewsBusters, however, sees it a different way. Tim Graham, complaining this morning about Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank's account of the Tea Party protest, argued that the haphazard fusillade of insults the Tea Partiers directed at members of Congress was actually part of a “debate”:

Milbank began the article by saying the road to reform “has been long and gruesome,” making it clear which half was gruesome. Democrats, by comparison, were the saintly victims of rhetorical assault:

Democrats, to show they wouldn't be intimidated, had staged a march to the Capitol from their office buildings, covering the ground where on Saturday African American Democrats were called racial epithets and spat on by protesters. Pelosi, carrying the speaker's gavel, linked arms with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was harassed Saturday but is no stranger to abuse from his years in the civil rights movement.

Police ringed Lewis, Pelosi and other Democrats while the conservative activists formed a gantlet and shouted insults: “You communists! You socialists! You hate America!”

It's always odd to see journalists, who you might think would enjoy debate, being so upset that anyone would stand in the way of Saint Barack.

Perhaps it's not entirely unreasonable for Graham to think that screaming “Communist!” at someone as they walk by constitutes a “debate.” Just last night in the House, where debate occurs as a matter of course, an as-yet-unidentified House Republican screamed “baby killer” as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) made his statement in favor of the health care bill.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more foolish I feel. Here I've wasted all this time and effort typing out this rebuttal to Graham when all I needed to do was write “Idiot!” and throw in a hyperlink.