As a not so brief follow up to the post I just put up concerning intentional rightwing silliness over global warming and climate change, I want to make a quick foray into Greater Wingnuttia with an eye toward their current apoplexy du jour over Obama’s joke at the expense of the Special Olympics.
I will talk more about their faux outrage more below, but I first want to try to get to the heart of the true outrage Obama’s insensitive joke caused them. What really burns them about this is their basic contention that if a Republican or a conservative had said it, then all hell would have broken loose.
This tact feeds nicely into their view of themselves as victims while also giving weight to their charges of liberal media bias and double standards. As an added bonus, it also provides an opportunity to hit Obama with what they seem to think is a double A plus super duper attack line: that Obama supposedly cannot utter a coherent sentence without being hooked up, cyborg like, to his, in their view, beloved teleprompter.
Taking these three points in reverse order, I’m truly pretty perplexed by the teleprompter meme. I could of course be wrong, but, as I understand it, it originated in response to the acclaim Obama received for rhetorical quality and frequently astounding attendance figures for his speeches during the campaign. The claim was and is that he is only able to speak well when teleprompted. Under this scenario I suppose Obama is actually a faux elite, a sockpuppet for the socialists string pullers who are actually running the whole show from behind the scenes.
But again, to really believe this requires willing self delusion and necessitates pouncing on every ill conceived or even stupid gaffe that Obama, like all people, make. The geniuses at Redstate are actually even trotting out the supposed “lipstick on a pig” slur, supposedly sexist language directed at Clinton and mild, and, I would argue, hardly undeserved, dig at Nancy Reagan regarding séances.
Again, more on the faux outrage below, but for now, think of the blinders a person must put on to believe Obama is inarticulate while speaking extemporaneously. On top of that, consider the utter self delusion for people who vociferously defended every last one of Bush Jr’s malapropisms to claim, with a straight face, that Obama can’t properly speak the language without the aid of a teleprompter.
The other two points, that the right is in a perpetual state of victimization and the the evul librul media is biased against the “real Americans” of Palin’s campaign speeches, will have to wait for another post. Even though they have been addressed by a wide range of other writers, they do deserve attention and I will write about them. But now I want to move on to the faux outrage put on so unconvincingly by so many on the right lately.
It has a long pedigree, going back ages and capitalized on in a previous American political era, as Rick Perstein points out in Nixonland, by a tricky pol who rallied his straight laced put upon supporters in opposition to those durned elites who were dirty dealing behind closed doors.
Much more recently, it was adopted, with much less success, by Republican and conservative concern trolls who were just mad as hell at the rotten awful no good misogyny of Obama and his supporters after he took the lead over and eventually defeated his now Secretary of State. That this concern trollery was coming from some of the least believable sources of such concern did not seem to enter into their calculations. Much like McCain’s seeming hip shot pick of Sarah Palin, they displayed their outright contempt for women and feminism by making such transparent allegations.
And such transparent contempt for women and feminism again and again was put forth during the campaign. The “lipstick on a pig” remark was of course the most ridiculous and, frankly, hilariously out of touch. If the moment when McCain ditched Letterman and, supposedly, halted his campaign was the moment when a majority in this country ceased to see him a viable potential president, then the pig lipstick flap was the moment when many, many people saw the faux concern over supposed sexism for what it was.
It became painfully obvious that it was nothing more than a cynical, callous, and ultimately clumsy attempt to pander to women and all feminists in a way that betrayed their utter lack of understanding of and respect for the issues, people and cause they were shouting so loudly about.
And this of course bring us to the current faux outrage over Obama’s Special Olympic joke on Leno last week. Yes it was insensitive. Yes it was, frankly, dumb. But it was also human. Obama was right to quickly apologize and he should probably do more to make amends, to make this a teachable moment and to resolve to make this a constant concern throughout his presidency.
But it does not show some elite bias. It doesn’t show that he somehow cannot speak coherently or intelligently with the aid of an electronic device. Nor does it show some, as many rightwing bloggers and commenters are claiming, that Obama, and liberals in general, favor eugenicist culling of the gene pool via mandatory abortions of developmentally disabled fetuses.
It shows that he can make mistakes. And, unlike our last president, his quick apology shows that he can recognize, take responsibility for and work to undo the damage caused by those mistakes.
And yet, for some reason, Republicans and conservatives think they can use this to hurt him politically. In thinking in this way, they seem hellbent on repeating their performance in the last two elections.
And I’m okay with that.