Oh, the dangers of cable news around the holidays, when the back benchers take over, and the big guns go on holiday.

Still, there was something instructive about the latest mini-flap over Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell’s reference to President Obama as a “skinny, ghetto crackhead,” in the artful way in which it was constructed.

The key is that Bozell structures his statement as a “What if?,” except then he reinforces it. Deriding MSNBC’s Chris Matthews for saying Newt Gingrich looks like a “car bomber,” Bozell asked, “How long do you think Sean Hannity’s show would last if four times in one sentence, he made a comment about, say, the President of the United States, and said that he looked like a skinny, ghetto crackhead? Which, by the way, you might want to say that Barack Obama does.”

Get it? So when people complain about the incendiary rhetoric, Bozell can say “I’m not saying that. I’m saying the left would be indignant if somebody said that.” Except, you know, he does sort of say you might want to say it, at the end.

Mostly, I’m tired of the whole “Say something stupid/Protest your innocence/issue a half-hearted ‘I’m sorry if anyone was offended'” non-apology, but this is what we’ve come to in our political discourse, which boils down to an elaborate game of “He hit me first” and “I know you are, but what am I?,” as played by grown adults.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Bozell knew exactly what he was saying and doing, just as Matthews — a guy completely in love with the sound of his own voice — can’t resist ridiculous hyperbole and throwing a few verbal bombs himself.

Of course, what would you expect from a bombastic middle-aged blowhard/media whore? Not that I’m calling either Matthews or Bozell that, mind you. But, hey, you might want to.