Monday, August 24, 2009

DEMOCRATS AND LANGUAGE, OR VS. LANGUAGE

I've written about this before and others have commented on it as well, the history of the rightwing Republicans using language to mischaracterize Democratic or "liberal" or centrist or anything other than the latest rightwing position as not just stupid but evil. They do a pretty great job of it. As The Daily Show showed over and over again, when the rightwing Republicans were in control of the government in recent years, everyday it seemed like anyone from their side who you saw on TV being interviewed or making a speech or answering a question, all used the same terms, the same talking points (ala "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud").

There's very few "party line" moments for the Democrats. The definition of "liberalism" and the humanism it's based on is that everyone has the right to be heard, as well as all the other rights guaranteed by the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, as well as inherent in being human, at least from a humanist perspective (like the right to healthcare even if you're poor).

But there must be a lot of poets and advertising copy writers who are "liberals" and Democrats and to the left of the rightwing, so why aren't they being used to frame arguments and label positions and talking points. When the rightwing Republicans renamed what had for decades been called "the estate tax" into "the death tax"—they started winning the argument against it, because people who would never get anywhere near enough millions to qualify for that tax somehow thought they're few possessions or small savings or home or whatever would be taxed upon their death, even though for the vast majority of us, that'll never happen.

Smart move. But what do the Democrats come up with, things like "public option" or calling themselves "progressives" or calling the stimulus package the "recovery act" or whatever. They should have called it the "repair the Republican destruction of our economy act"! And they should call the tax suggested on the wealthiest to pay for healthcare the "fat cat tax" or something like that.

I remember when I was a young jazz musician, the music we played (or tried to) was called "progressive jazz"—anyone remember that? Before that came "bebop" and after it "free jazz"—two monikers I bet more people remember. "Progressive" is so abstract that it's almost impossible to grasp with the mind in any imaginative way—there's no imagery in it or lyricism, it almost sounds like "gradual" or like something you might hope for even if you can't define it.

Airy. Artsy. Lame. Unlike "blue dogs" which at least resonates in the mind and creates a sense of something real, something maybe pugnacious, something common and usually beloved (the dog part at least). They should call the public option the "fair share" option or the "screw the insurance companies" option. Okay, maybe a little extreme, but that's the problem, there is nothing too extreme for the right, as we've seen in the Town Hall meetings and elsewhere.

Obama was a pretty good word man during the campaign, but he seems to have retreated into academic wonky explanations for the most part, with dollops of regular guy cliches like "we don't want to pull the plug on grandma"—ugh. He should be repeating over and over again the story of his own mother's death and how that made him a crusader for the right to healthcare for everyone, rich and poor, like he is now and once was, white and black, like he is, or his mother and father were, etc.

He should have stood up and articulated what most of us are feeling right now, that somehow even though we voted for a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress to overturn the destructive policies of the last eight years, the media and too often Democrats themselves, are still busy behaving like they have to placate a handful of rightwing Republicans by compromising their principles into mush.

And he and the Democrats should be calling the rightwing Republicans what they are, lying traitors who are hellbent on destroying the democratic process in this country when it goes against them.

8 comments:

AlamedaTom said...

Yeah, but ...
We will never be able to compete with the right wing in that arena. Remember the old scorpion and the frog fable -- it's just not in our nature (and I'm thankful for that)

No, we have to do what Ali did against Foreman. Ali knew that if he went in there toe-to-toe and punch-for-punch, he would be physically and mentally devastated. Hence, he invented the "rope-a-dope" for that fight. That's what Barack is doing now -- letting these right-wing cretins punch themselves out.

I was listening to Paul Begala on the Stephanie Miller show today, and he mentioned that even though he was a Hillary supporter, he grew to admire Obama's impeccable timing in the ebb and flow of the process.

Obama is on vacation this week, which brings me to my final analogy. Remember the scene in "The Hustler" where Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman have been going at it for rack after rack of balls in the epic pool showdown? Jackie, as "Minnesota Fats" takes a time out and goes into the bathroom and takes a lot of time getting physically and mentally composed, and emerges looking like a million bucks and radiating it at a zillion candle power. Fast Eddie, (Newman), looking like a speed freak on his descent, just cracks apart and loses the match.

I'm hoping Barack is in the restroom right now, getting ready to come out and win the match. I could be wrong, but hide and watch.

~ Willy

JIm said...

Riddle me this, Joker/Democrats/Socialists and Lally. Obama is having problems with the Netroots, Blue Dogs and just plain folks who attend and are concerned about the US’s run away spending and surge of government control over banks, autos and now the attempted takeover of healthcare and energy. The Joker’s government delayed the release of budget estimates, due in July but just released on Friday of a gigantic increase in ten year deficit estimates of NINE TILLION FROM SEVEN TRILLION, in order to not complicate the health care debate before congressional recess. After all, an increase of 28% after a 400% increase in the 2009 deficit over 2008 is just peanuts to a Socialist/Democrat. Obama said it would be destructive to national security and the US’s intelligence gathering capabilities earlier in the year to go after intelligence operations, yet he now has authorized the Justice Department to go after previously investigated CIA personnel and ultimately Bush/Cheney. What is more important to Obama/Democrats? Obviously, the expansion of socialism and the attempt to quiet the opposition from the left is more important. Argentina and the Weinmar Repbublic seem to Obama’s model of fiscal discipline. I am all a tingly waiting for the poetry which is sure to ensue.

Lally said...

Hope you're right Tom. As for the troll, if he keeps comparing Obama to the Joker or Hitler I'm gonna have to start deleting his comments. Like I wrote in a recent post or response to a comment, it's egging the rightwing militia style nuts (one today at a townhall meeting identified himself as "a rightwing terrorist" and the Republican politician leading the meeting said "Amen to that." This is all a deliberate set up to make violence legitimate if it's against anyone who disagrees or gets in the way of or democratically gets elected to replace rightwing Republicansim. Not on my blog Jimbo.

Curtis Faville said...

It's pretty clear that all this town hall disruption has been deliberately and systematically orchestrated to fuzz and buzz the health care debate. They don't want debate, because the more people discover about what the insurance and drug industries have done to them, the less they're going to like it, and the more they're going to want a single payer option.

Meanwhile, Obama's "political capital" is steadily declining. Which is why the Dems want to rush to judgment--any old bill will do, just PASS IT! --before we lose our mandate!

Well, the fact is, we can't afford health care, now, any more than we can afford to conduct more foreign wars. The bank's broke. We had a little window, there, at the end of the Clinton Era, and the Bushies spent it and cut taxes. End of story.

Nothing will save us now. Wheeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

harryn said...

thanks for your thoughts Michael - i'm in agreement - and i hope tom is right ...
its the jim comment - like many from the left - self important, self righteous, disparaging ... but let's look at it ...
he opens with an insult - wordy, but inaccurate ...
he speaks a down home half truth underlined with more twists ...
who the hell isn't concerned about deficits and government takeovers - if that is how it really is - yes the deficits are big, but brought on by a devasting attack back in 2001, a ego war in search of bin laden, another war because we were 'threatened by iraq, uncontrollable greed and lack of regulation by the bush people, a full diet of fear, a false stock market, failing auto industry, et f'ing cetera ...
so everyone came crying to the feds when humpty dumty looked like he was going to fall asking for bailouts and loans - it was pretty clear no one wanted what obama inherited but he played his hand the only way the dems and repubs could at the time - but then you get the election day hangovers, sour grapes, veiled bigotry, anger, resentments, and strategies on how the rightwingers are going to take down their opponent - now come the lies and static in the circuitry instead of reasonably minded team players that are hell bent on destroying their own quarterback - what a bunch of idiot bullies - and thank GOD we aren't like them - yet ...
and in case no one remembers, this bailout money is going back into the treasury over time ...
then jim goes on to lay out numbers, percentages, and statistic like he were a protege of bernie madoff - convincing and seemingly real but we all know where that went - and that's exactly how they're attemting to sabatoge the proposed health care legistlation - with more lies and manipulations of fact ...
i've known a lot of jims and his kind - they live for the arguement and justifying their own rationale - its exhausting if you engage - evil has its own momentum ...
and again you're right michael, they're destroying the democratic process ... but they'll probably blame us ...

JIm said...

The Constitution vests the power of the purse in congress. The Democrats overwhelming control congress and are filabuster proof. They have an equally liberal president who has demonstrated that he will sign anything they produce. The Democrats and Obama own this deficit.

I have attended two Tea Parties and have attempted to attend two townhall meetings. I was unsuccessful in gaining admittance to the Pelosi one. The only meeting that seemed to have any outside oranizers and supporters of Obamacare was the Pelosi one that had some folks in uinion tee shirts and professionally made signs. The overwhelming number of signs at Tea Parties and Town Hall meetings were home made. There were no swatstikas.

JIm said...

Here is some support for Obama/Democrats/Socialists.
(My Mom used to say that people judge people by their friends. My Mom showed a lot of wisdom.)

Fidel Castro says racist right-wingers fight Obama
Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:06am EDT

HAVANA (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is trying to make positive changes in the United States, but is being fought at every turn by right-wingers who hate him because he is black, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday.

JIm said...

Here is some non poetic language describing the UK health system.

The babies born in hospital corridors: Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets
By Jenny Hope and Nick Mcdermott


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1209034/The-babies-born-hospital-corridors-Bed-shortage-forces-4-000-mothers-birth-lifts-offices-hospital-toilets.html#ixzz0PHxo72OB