Wednesday, August 22


Y'KNOW, it's no accident that the birth of the modern political Gotcha! moment can be traced to the same year Barbara Walters lisped her way to a million-dollar contract. 

In 1976, kids, in a Presidential campaign, Jerry Ford said something like "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe". It was immediately seized upon as evidence that he'd never heard of the Warsaw Pact.

This has led to the point where it's no longer necessary to even consider the meaning of words, let alone to recognize that people sometimes misspeak. Or, conversely, where Representative Akin can use "misspeaking" as a (temporary, in his case) defense when his meaning was absolutely clear.

And it's the people who are supposed to be the guardians of words and meaning who are debasing the stuff. I know I'm not the only person to point this out, and heaven knows I'll never be the first, but the real semantic questions here are a) what, exactly, is Mitt Romney, and the rest of the Republican establishment, objecting to, beyond being saddled with their own positions, suitably in a nutshell? and b) how is it we do not recognize, and pummel, public figures such as Akin who so obviously are not conversant with the issues they spew about, or even the "principles" they suppose us to imagine they hold? Akin's hardly the first religious maroon to get hisself elected to Congress. The question is how we've gone forty years without the Right to Lifers being questioned, philosophically, theologically, or scientifically? Akin could only be that unclear on the concept if he'd never been required to answer an essay question. He didn't erroneously substitute a word, except that he fumbled his lines. He substituted patent nonsense for thought. And neither is original with him.

And it just happens, then, that he slid all the way down the slope. If there's no exception for rape, according to the Republican party, no exception for incest, none for viability, genetic disaster, or the life of the mother--until it's the mother of Rick Santorum's children--then say so. If there is, then on what basis? If there is, then the termination of a pregnancy is not murder.

Those people have been abusing the English language for five decades, now. 


Anonymous said...

A plank of the Repub party calls for no exceptions. So how can Romney call him on this, when it is what his party stands for ?

Anonymous said...

Historical note.

About the time Barbara Walters got that job, mid-'70's, and I was fresh out of the Peace Corps, I found myself talking to a young couple of hip bank-officer trainees at a party in Berkeley. A bi-racial couple, which was pretty rare in those days.

I started in on a rap about how Barbara Walters sucked and television news was going to hell in a hand-basket, but before I could get going both of these people said that Barbara Walters was the great lady of America and had showed that America was still good. Barbara was a paragon of goodness to them, they worshiped her.

I think that at the time Ronald Reagan was governor of California, and it had just been revealed that he had paid zero federal taxes for several years, and when I had gone to the USPHS hospital to get de-wormed there were old ladies there saying, of course that can't be true, it's something the Democrats invented.

Several years later Reagan was elected President on the basis of hippies had hairy arm-pits, and people like David Brooks and Ross Douthat came into consciousness with no other reference point on politics.

Just saying. You got this right, Doghouse, but no one knows or has any frame of reference allowing even the memory. Be careful, because you are walking in a fantasy world where Barbara Walters is a great lady, Ronald Reagan is a great man, and hippies used to spit on returning vets. Don't want to compromise your credibility, d00d.

Anonymous said...

What the prior Anonymous speaks of I have no idea where he got it. In my part of CA, Walters was a useless tool only good for morning "news", and Reagan was a creep.

- Not the same Anonymous, but Anonymous just the same.

Anonymous said...

Now THAT's a trenchant blog. Ed of Gin&Tacos would especially admire this one. As would Twain.

I meant Mark, not Shania.


Anonymous said...

'erry Ford said something like "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe".' It was not a slip of the tongue, a 'misstatement' or a confused answer to a "gotcha"-type question -- the astonished moderator asked Ford to clarify and Ford insistently repeated his statement. It was a classic case of doubling down on wrong !

Li'l Innocent said...

The Republicans couldn't give two minor flatulences for Akins' beliefs or position at this point; only that he blurted it out, on a Sunday broadcast, at a strategically bad juncture and in such a terse, easily quoted, and pluperfectly offensive, idiotic way that everyone noticed, putting his Senate race in jeopardy, and drawing undue attention to just how crazy the party has gotten. Because, who among us out here actually reads the Republican platform? But people will remember what ol' Todd said if they can't get him out of sight and tethered to the bedpost upstairs.