You said the magic word!
As Julian put it so well last year, dowdification – grabbing quotes out of context to bash your opponent – was a sorry mainstay of the presidential race. I had hoped it would end when the election did. But the conditions for it haven’t changed – there’s an ever-increasing amount of bloggers and hacks who think people saying mean things is worth talking and talking and fucking talking about. Often it’s not as much taking things out of context as it is taking phrases from 2000-word speeches and raising hell about them.
Exhibit A is this Santorum thing. Senators are currently debating judicial nominees with the usual melange of talking points and goofy visual aids. During his speech, Rick Santorum reached for an analogy to demonstrate how dumb Democrats’ talking points were. So he said “The audacity of some members to stand up and say, ‘How dare you break this rule!’ It’s the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, ‘I’m in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city. It’s mine.'”
Clearly Santorum wasn’t saying “Democrats are like Hitler.” He was trying to think of a way of saying “you just made up this rule, and you’re pretending it’s always been around!” and he grasped for a historical metaphor everyone in this History Channel-infected age would grasp. But he mentioned Hitler, so every liberal with a grudge saw an attempt to “gotcha” him, and they took it.
The same thing is happening with Howard Dean, which, let’s face it, was damn predictable. For some reason Ron Fournier thinks it’s incredibly fascinating that in a stemwinder at a Dem fundraiser, Dean said DeLay should “go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence.” As Fournier puts it, “the Texas Republican has not been charged with a crime, but Dean said he would not apologize.”
Seriously, who gives a shit? This is how normal people talk, isn’t it? I certainly hear this talk all the time about the non-convicted-of-crimes Bill and Hillary Clinton. I sure enough hear people call their politicians “crooks,” or samesuch mean names.
I do understand how this talk can piss people off. But then I’ll see it bandied about by Robert Novak or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. Hannity, who’s never heard a “Ted Kennedy murders people” joke that he wouldn’t tell. Limbaugh, who called Tom Daschle “el Diablo.” Novak, who’s … fucking Robert Novak. These people aren’t actually offended or convinced Dean has stepped over the line. They just pretend to be offended to push their political ball a little further.
Please stop it, everyone. You’re embarrassing yourselves.