What Name-Calling Looks Like

« June 2010 »

Memo to the LA Times, the Huffington Post, and, as an example, Newt Gingrich: YOU ARE DUMB.

Some headlines just catch my eye. And so it was a few weeks ago, when the Huffington Post rolled this beauty past my eyes: "Beck, Limbaugh, Franken, Gingrich: Political Bestsellers Bring On An Age Of Name-Calling". It's a re-headlining of a Los Angeles Times piece which does not specifically use the term "Age Of Name Calling", which is what originally caught my eye.

And we haven't entered an age of name-calling. It's a subject I happen to think I know a little something about. And you know what name-calling isn't? Name calling isn't calling someone a name behind their back, then, when they ask you, "What did you call me?" mumbling under your breath and saying "Nuthin'" and slinking away. Because that's the age we're in. The age of pussying out.

Newt Gingrich is the perfect example. Newt Gingrich wrote a book called "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine". In the title alone, he calls Obama secular, he calls him a socialist, he places him in charge of a "machine", a machine that needs to be stopped, because if it isn't stopped, we won't save America.

That's some serious name-calling, and you haven't even cracked the cover yet. If you're dumb enough to do so, you'll also find that Gingrich claims "The President’s secular socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did." Again, serious fucking name-calling. But that's what Gingrich says when he's hanging around his buddies. Fox News, anyone who would buy a Newt Gingrich book, and illiterate teabaggers who have the back blurbs read to them on a radio talk show.

Get Gingrich away from his buddies, perhaps in front of the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, and see what happens. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"I’m not here saying Obama is the bad guy and if he wasn’t there things would be good."

Yes, you are. You're saying he's in charge of a machine that could destroy America, a machine that's as big a threat as the Nazis or the Soviet Union. You are saying Obama is the bad guy. But you're only admitting you're saying it to people who won't find it repulsive and hellishly distant from actual reality. In front of sane people, you act like a perfectly reasonable potential Presidential candidate who wouldn't dream of calling Obama a Nazi.

Here's how you do name-calling right. Newt Gingrich is a spineless, ball-less coward who lacks even the bare minimum of the courage of his convictions required to PANDER CONSISTENTLY. And he looks like he's been holding his breath since 1994. Put me up in front of any audience in the world and I'll stand behind those names. Why? Because it's true. And anyone looking at the evidence with an open mind knows it's true. The reason Newt has to back down from his book is because he knows the positions he espouses don't hold up to the scrutiny of sane people.

But there's one other thing about polemics that gets missed in all this, and it gets missed specfuckingtacularly by the LA Times in their bid for false equivalency:

"The scorching isn't just from the right. Remember Al Franken's pre-Senate 'Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot'? And then there's Keith Olbermann's forthcoming 'Hall of Shame: The Worst of the Worst, from Beck, Bill, and Bush to Palin and Other Posturing Republicans.'"

There is a deeply fundamental difference between what Gingrich, Beck, and Aaron Klein and Brenda Elliot* are doing, and what Franken did and Olbermann is doing. Franken and Olbermann are exaggerating and name-calling for comedic effect. Olbermann's "Worst Person In The World", on which his book is presumably based, is not meant to provide a definitive, scientific ranking of awfulness, nor is it read as such by its audience. Franken's book was a COMEDY book about politics. I know what section of the bookstore it was in when I bought it.

Beck and Gingrich and Klein and Elliot aren't kidding. Either they believe what they're putting in their books is the gospel truth, or, more importantly, they expect the audience to treat it as the gospel truth. When people call Dick Cheney "Darth Vader", they don't expect you to believe that Cheney grew up as a slave on a desert planet, had a doomed and shitty relationship with a queen, had all his limbs cut off, and choked a bunch of British dudes with his mind. It's a metaphor.

Gingrich isn't writing metaphors. His audience can barely count to meta-three. He's making serious charges in a serious work aimed at a seriously stupid audience who takes the whole business very, very seriously. Putting these books on a par with Franken and Olbermann is just bullshit journalistic balance designed to stem the usual media bias complaints.

In other words, the LA Times are a bunch of spineless, ball-less cowards who lack even the bare minimum of the courage of their convictions required to interpret reality consistently. And I'd say the same thing to the Des Moines Register editorial board, or the LA Times editorial board, for that matter. Because that's how proper name-calling works.

*The authors of the completely shitting-you-not book "The Manchurian President: Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists".