Friday, September 5, 2008

A Douchebag on a Barracuda

Look, I already knew John Carlson was a douche. I knew it when he was just a talk radio host, I knew it when he ran for Governor of Washington, I saw it first-hand when he did a live version of “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” in downtown Seattle years ago. First time I ever heard him open his mouth, I thought, “That right there is a douchebag.” But, he had to go and prove it again with his defense, or perhaps aggrandizement is a better word, of Sarah Palin.

He, like many Republicans, wants to characterize her as the scourge of liberal voters. And his main argument seems to be that she is “a successful, attractive, working class, conservative feminist.” The link is Carlson’s, and interestingly connects to a Wikipedia (great source there, John – you start essays with “Webster’s defines…” or the updated “A Google search of…” too?) definition of feminism that nowhere mentions conservative feminism, quite probably because it doesn’t exist. Feminism is and always has been a progressive movement; methinks Carlson and his ilk believe they can slap “feminist” on anyone who carries a double X chromosome, but self-interest and feminine gender do not a feminist make.

It’s much like “Pro-life feminist.” Oh, sure, because feminism is all about disempowering women from making choices. I think I recall bell hooks, when she spoke at Syracuse University lo those many years ago, saying, “Settle down, ladies. Choices are for men and white folks and those others smart enough to make the right ones, not you abortion-happy bimbos.”

And this is just the start. Carlson fills his entire article with Republican’s favorite tactic of “definition through assertion.” This has to be my favorite, coupled as it is with other great tactic of the Right: reassertion with the implication of the disingenuousness of dissent: “Some have even criticized her for choosing to have her Down syndrome baby rather than aborting it (admit it, you've heard it).”

Frankly, I’ve heard nothing of the sort, not anywhere. Never have I heard a mother criticized for bringing a baby with birth defects to term (except, I’ll admit, the eugenics-obsessed mother of a grade school friend who was convinced the education of, as she said, “a bunch of little retards” was taking resources away from the education of her own admittedly gifted children). But, Carlson and others will continue to assert this, and twist any commentary of Palin’s family in general to fit the preconception, ignoring completely the fact that choosing to carry such a baby to term is only noble because it is a choice. And they will continue to just plain call you a liar if you disagree.

Carlson, y’see, isn’t interested in furthering the discourse. He, like much of the Right’s pundit class, enjoys hearing the sound of his own voice, even or maybe especially when it is being repetitive.

He'll repeat over and over that she fought Alaska's famous pork politics, ignoring that she was for it before she was against it (morphing from supporter to critic of the "bridge to nowhere" when it was politically advantageous). He'll try to conflate her experience as a small-town mayor with Obama's as a community organizer, regardless of which has actually meant more to the political history of this country. And he'll claim again and again that she's just another of the God-fearin', animal-killin', bigass-family-havin' American's that make up the majority of the country in spite of the fact a minority of people self-identify as such. And he'll be but one of a chorus of bloviating windbags.

It’s a sign of what to expect from the coming months, and also what has to be dismantled. I’m a big fan of FAIR because they do such a good job of identifying specious arguments and reasoning in the media. I’m sure they’d have a field day with Carlson were he not beneath national notice.
But, we can’t let bullshit contributions to the political discourse like Carlson’s go unaddressed. We have to point out their contradictions and hypocrisy as often as possible. We have to call bullshit. Loudly. And we have to throw it back in the face of their assertions and reassertions.

So when a douchebag like John Carlson takes this quote from Palin:

"When the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot — when that happens, what exactly is our opponent's plan?"

And responds with this: “In Sarah Palin's world, and in John McCain's, talk is cheap; people would rather support results than rhetoric.”

We have to point out, as tiresome as it can be, that Palin’s quote has nothing to do with results, is only cloudy rhetoric, and that simply asserting the opposite is intellectually lazy and dull.

And we can’t let it win.

Sarah Palin: the liberal voter's worst nightmare


the beige one said...


Gonna go back to a conversation we had a while ago about creating narratives v. reacting to their tactics with reason.

If, as you say in another thread, the left doesn't have the experience in doing this, then let's get the damn experience...

Call it on the job training.

"Palin: She Sure Can Read."

JJisafool said...

I think it is up to us to do the attacking with reason, but politicians should be creating narrative. Ideally.

Joe said...

Very nicely written, JJ. I don't know why you're hanging out with these other two doofuses. (Doofi?)

JJisafool said...

It helps that I don't have to actually see them.

JJisafool said...

From Glenn Greenwald at Salon:

But the idea that Americans instinctively recoil from negativity or that there will be some sort of backlash against Republicans generally and Palin specifically because of how "negative" their convention speeches were is pure fantasy. Cultural tribalism and personality attacks of those sort work, especially when they're not aggressively engaged.

Every four years, the GOP unleashes unrestrained personality attacks on Democrats and exploits cultural resentments. Every four years, Democrats tell themselves that such attacks don't work and are counter-productive. And every four years, that belief is disproven. These "character" issues end up mattering largely because Democrats, in election after election, allow wars over "character" to be waged in a largely one-sided fashion.