Dean Obeidallah is a jackass but not as big a jackass as Melissa Harris-Perry

Dean ObeidallahFull confession: I never heard of Dean Obeidallah before his name came up in connection with the dustup over an MSNBC panel’s ill-chosen reactions to a Mitt Romney family photo. Obeidallah, who self-identifies as a comedian, was on the panel, and if his commentary was any indication of his sense of humor, I haven’t been missing much.

He has a piece at the Daily Beast defending himself against criticism for a “joke” (his term) he made in reaction to the photograph of some two dozen Romneys, all of whom are lily white, except for the black infant on the former GOP presidential hopeful’s right knee.

Upon seeing the photo, I commented: ‘It really sums up the diversity of the Republican party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person.’

Don’t berate yourself if you fail to see the comedic gold in that howler, which is just another meaningless put-down by another liberal “entertainer” who thinks he has captured an eternal truth about conservatives and — to his further imagined credit — neatly wrapped it in a bit of keen observational humor.

In any case, Obeidallah is now whining that he doesn’t deserve to be called a “baby-bullying bigot,” which he says Dana Loesch called him. He is right. His comment was less offensive than those of some of the other panelists, especially host Melissa Harris-Perry, who went overboard in her reactions and then attempted to walk them back through a clumsy multi-tweet apology. (I’m wondering if she’s apologized yet to Kanye West for her quasi-racist insinuations about his putative reception as an in-law by a white family.)

But in his attempt to make a greater point, Obeidallah trips himself up. He apologizes in the article to Romney — whom by his own reckoning he hasn’t offended — but not to right-wing pundits whom he accuses of “slashing programs that help the less fortunate, demonizing Muslims or gays for political gain, or trying to disenfranchise minority voters with voter ID laws.” Yet after tossing out these well-rehearsed, easily disproved bromides, he wonders why Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal aren’t rushing to his defense as they did for Phil Robertson.

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