July 28, 2007

"Let's talk about this silly, frivolous, nothing stuff so that America won't pay attention."



Watching this video, I thought, first, ooh, he's good. And then, what's with his hair? It seems to be coming undone in the heat... is that... is that a toupée?

Anyway, I came to this video via Jake Tapper:
There's an interesting meme of Democratic victimology developing here…

In addition to former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, saying that media attention on his hair stems from powerful interests who "want to shut me up", it should be noted that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, is also wading a bit into the waters of victimology…

After being the first one to really amp up her disagreement with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, from Monday night's debate -- her campaign sent out the video of their respective answers before the debate was even over, and she was the first one to personally use perjorative adjectives against Obama -- she's now trying to raise money claiming he "attacked" her.

"Last week, one of the leading Republican candidates equated Hillary with Karl Marx. Yesterday, one of the leading Democratic candidates called her 'Bush-Cheney lite,'" wrote Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle in the e-mail. "Hillary is under attack from opponents on all sides. When you're attacked, you expect your family and friends to stand with you…"

The short, 440-word fundraising appeal uses a form of the word "attack" six times. With Clinton as the victim, naturally.
But of course we should attack them! They can fight back, and then we can respond to that, perhaps by saying that they're indulging in "victimology." They need to think through whether it helps their cause very much to seem thin-skinned and to act prudishly offended when we speak of superficial things.

You know damned well that they are using image to try to manipulate us. (They never complain when we say they look fabulous.) They'd like to be free to pursue their political ambitions by taking advantage their good looks -- why has Edwards done so well over the years? -- but to stop us from engaging on the image level. They'd like all their subliminal campaigning to slip into our subconsciousness unchallenged.

They want all their critics to engage with them only on the substantive policy analysis level where, frankly, America won't pay attention whether there's also any silly, frivolous, nothing stuff to distract them or not.

30 comments:

Daryl said...

How does making fun of Edwards' hair shut him up? Of course it doesn't stop him from speaking.

He's trying to shut us up. We're not allowed to make fun of him.

Of course, mockery is one of the most effective ways to cut a politician down.

They've certainly been mocking Republicans long enough.

----

I don't think the candidates do enough substantive debating on the issues, and I think the problem is largely that they never have a good venue for such debates.

The debates they do have cover so many topics that it's really a test of how well-prepared the candidates are and how much information they've memorized. It's a test of breadth rather than depth.

What I would like to see is a 90-minute health care debate, where the candidates do nothing but debate health care. They should have to submit written statements in advance describing the health care plan they want for this country. THAT would be a good debate. It would force them to take a stand and then defend themselves.

Most of them are lawyers, anyway (Hillary, Edwards, Obama, Rudy, Thompson--all of the front runners except Mitt Romney). They're used to that kind of debate.

rhhardin said...

The candidates say whatever keeps them on the soap opera TV, which is what edits every debate.

The inexplicable stories that will not die are really stories about the TV audience that they're able to sell to advertisers. The candidates hook on to that, for the same reason that the networks do : it's a business model and the best they can do.

The only out I see is ridicule of the TV audience, which, we have to face it, is soap opera women.

Or, of course, repeal women's sufferage, which makes hooking onto that audience pointless.

The other women vote like men anyway.

rhhardin said...

s/sufferage/suffrage/

*jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Irene Done said...

It's hilarious that he -- a millionaire lawyer -- claims he's being shut up by "all these people who make 100 million dollars a year" and who hire "all those lawyers" in Washington DC.

All these attacks on Edwards started right after he and his wife announced their campaign would go on despite the return of her cancer. Right when Edwards seemed to be the most sympathetic, we learned about the haircuts and the speaking fees. So I do think someone's trying hard to get Edwards out of the race but it's probably his own Democratic rivals.

Anthony said...

It's about all they have to go on anymore. I remember Clinton's first campaign and he kept putting Hillary up as his "co-president" (I think he used the phrase "Two for the price of one"). Of course, when the Republicans then went after her, all he could do was wag his finger and call them big meanies for picking on his poor defenseless wife who wasn't even running!

And these people really expect us to take them seriously when they say they'll be "tough" with the Assads and bin Ladens of the world?

P. Rich said...

Victimology is the cornerstone of the Democratic Party, Althouse. Claiming membership in the herd builds rapport with those unable or unwilling to think. Works.

Daryl: Good ideas, thus never gonna happen. The Dhim objective is to leverage blind bias and feelings, not [potentially risky] substantive positions, while spouting meaningless generalities. It's carried Obama totally so far, and HR Clinton rides the same train waving the Woman Banner, or occasionally the Tough Bitch fist.

peter hoh said...

Liberals have no corner on the victimology market anymore. I listen to some popular right-wing radio hosts, and most of them play the victim card, too.

Zeb Quinn said...

All these attacks on Edwards started right after he and his wife announced their campaign would go on despite the return of her cancer

People have been making fun of Edward's hair since at least the 2004 campaign. Have you not seen that video of him spending minutes and minutes working over his hair? Have you never heard him called "The Breck Girl" or "The Silky Pony"? These attacks on him for being a phony lightweight fluffball are nothing new. Maybe it's just that they're now reaching critical mass.

As for his wife's cancer, it was blatant exploitation by him to go after sympathy support. He deserves whatever ridicule he gets for that.

John Stodder said...

David Crosby for President!

Speak out, you got to speak out against the madness,
You got to speak your mind,
If you dare.
But don't no don't now try to get yourself elected
If you do you had better cut your hair.
`Cause it appears to be a long,
Appears to be a long,
Appears to be a long,
Time, such a long long long long time before the dawn.


Peter Hoh has a good point, too, though. This current spasm over the Fairness Doctrine has got the talk-radio hosts all saying "The liberals want to shut me up! And they want to shut you up, too!"

I'm sure the "special interests want to shut me up" style of politicking goes back to Ancient Greece.

DirkDiggler said...

Angry White Man never screams victim.

The gays are ruining my marriage, the immigrants are taking my job, hollywood is ruining my culture, ACLU is taking away my Christmas, the fem nazis are making my girlfriend want vagina. Conservatives never whine.

No, no victims in the conservative ranks, just the liberals.

Daryl said...

Dirk, if a Republican candidate starts whining along those lines, don't expect us to rush to his defense.

"It's okay for our candidates to be whiny crybabies because some of your talk radio people are crybabies" is not exactly the most compelling argument.

Irene Done said...

Zeb -- Yes I've seen and heard all that but I don't think the reports about his using campaign funds to pay for a $400 haircut came out until right after his wife's diagnosis -- when he was, legitimately or not, enjoying a lot of attention. It was the pricey haircut that really damaged him, right? He's really been fumbling from that point on.

DirkDiggler said...

Daryl, than if elected republicans, who in the past have whined about gay marriage and the sanctity of marriage you wouldn't agree with that? Tom Delay, David Vitter, James Imhofe all commented that it was a threat to marriage? Or when they complain that Hollyweird values are threatening our society?

How about Mitt Romney's most recent ad crying about the culture of indecency while we see waves beautifully flowing?

Synova said...

I thought his hair looked *bad* at the You Tube debate.

I think it was on purpose.

dick said...

There is a difference between complaining about damage to society and then claiming that the other side or the opponents are being mean to the candidate. After all it was Schumer who complained that D'Amato called him a putz and D'Amato was not even Jewish. Unfortunately, D'Amato was totally right about that and the country is suffering for that victim card. Then Hillary was complaining that Lazio was mean to her and trying to scare her in their debate. They played that one for all it was worth. Now we have the rest of the Democrats following along with all those people being mean to them. Kinda makes you wonder how they would stand up to someone from a foreign country standing up to them. Not well, I would imagine.

Bissage said...

My hair's very similar in type to John Edwards': Fine, poker-straight, golden red highlights.

I pay $13 and tip $5.

And mine's better looking.

Ha!

Cedarford said...

Daryl - Most of them are lawyers, anyway (Hillary, Edwards, Obama, Rudy, Thompson--all of the front runners except Mitt Romney). They're used to that kind of debate.

Romney did graduate Harvard Law because he had promised his Dad he would get a law degree if he went to Harvard for his MBA. Did both in 2 years. He used his law degree doing consulting for a brief period, but then went almost 100% into business and venture capital. Says his law degree was a great thing in helping him think, understand legal ramifications of his executive work, and helped him be a good debater (he was regarded by the media to have thoroughly out-debated Ted Kennedy in his Senate bid, then his female rival in his successful Gov bid in Massachusetts).

P. Rich said...
Victimology is the cornerstone of the Democratic Party, Althouse. Claiming membership in the herd builds rapport with those unable or unwilling to think. Works.


Pretty true. I think that was one of the refreshing things about Obama, despite his not having the depth or experience to be President - he didn't start out with a "Woe is me, a minority victim!, persona." But since Victimhood is such a Democratic lodestone, it is inevitable that Dem candidates will seek identity in a certified victim's group. Kerry the "haunted vet", Hillary the symbol of oppressed Yale and Wellsley women everywhere, Edwards the "poor mill worker's son".

The longer Obama can resist the lure of victimhood solidarity bathos, the better for him..IMO.

Dirkdiggler - The gays are ruining my marriage, the immigrants are taking my job, hollywood is ruining my culture, ACLU is taking away my Christmas, the fem nazis are making my girlfriend want vagina. Conservatives never whine.

They whine about specific issues they want fixed, Dirk, not about pervasive oppression based not on issues - but race, gender, class.

That is the big difference.

And certain gays happily admit there is a gay agenda they are using their wealth and organization to push hard. And certain ACLU types admit that they are legally targeting selected expressions of Christmas as a way to indimidate others (one good Christmas lawsuit and 1,000 other towns, merchants or schools stop because they fear a major lawsuit) To move America past "ignorant superstition and Christian bias against oppressed groups".

And it is not just Christian white oppressor males that think the Hollywood and feminist swill has gone too far. Polls overseas say next to American unilateralism, the next two most hated things about America are (1)The filth and purience exported out of America by the scum owners that control US media and porn; (2) Denunciations by US feminists and activists that overseas countries are evil and backwards in their traditional culture.

Item #1 of course is a basis of the 1996 and 1998 Fatwas declared against the USA, and a major criticism of the coarse, violent American culture even in "wiser, more liberal and progressive Europe".

Claudia said...

The most interesting thing about this column and discussion is the HEADLINE.

And possibly the comment that " They want all ... to engage ...only on the substantive policy analysis level where, frankly, America won't pay attention whether there's also any silly, frivolous, nothing stuff to distract them or not."

If America won't pay attention to anything but frivolous crap (as we all fear) then why are we wasting our time on this charade? let's get right to the dictatorship!

Luckyoldson said...

I find about 99% of the comments on this particular topic to be rather strange.

It's as if the people here have never experienced a Presidential campaign before, and just can't understand why these people behave the way they do.

The candidates on BOTH sides of the aisle do not want to stir up any controversies, don't want to disrupt their fund raising coalitions, make fools of themselves or make any mistakes.

Which, over a period of 12-18 months...is obviously impossible.

What's more interesting to me...is the never ending interest the American public has with silliness like hair and cleavage, etc.

My experience in Europe is exactly the opposite; a candidate says or does something stupid, they make fun of it for a day or so, then move right back to the important elements of the campaign.

Here...a haircut story can linger for months on end, a candidate screams (yells, whatever) and we're still talking about it 4 years later...and cleavage? People will be blathering on about that as they enter the voting booth

We're not dating these people, we're evaluating whether they can actually perform.

Eli Blake said...

daryl,

Dirk, if a Republican candidate starts whining along those lines, don't expect us to rush to his defense

Oh, you mean like Mitt Romney and Al Sharpton? Or do you mean Rudy sending out a fundraising letter with the assistance of the Jerusalem Post (in which case it may be illegal, to boot) to Jewish voters accusing Democrats of coddling terrorists?

If there is one thing that I find really nauseating it is self-righteous Republicans who jump all over Democrats and claim that Republicans wouldn't do it, when Republicans do it all the time.

AJ Lynch said...

Daryl:

I second a previous commenter that you have some very good ideas. But also fear it will never happen.

The Dems don' want to fix anything because that would reduce the number of "victimology" issues they have. So they will never fix social security or healthcare. The Republicans are not much better.

That leaves all of us with what? Zip nada.

Maybe we should demand they work on Saturdays - afterall that is when most of us get caught up on our job jar projects.

vnjagvet said...

I agree with your comment, Lucky. Which just goes to show we don't disagree on everything:>)

Why do campaign professionals promote this crap? Do you suppose it because most get their start in high school and college elections? In those, there is little of substance at stake, and appearance, personality, and manner are the primary differentiators among candidates.

Also, victimization is a surefire way to raise money. Us vs. Them promotes competition. Competition promotes emotional commitment and loosens pocketbooks.

Meade said...

Bissage said...
My hair's very similar in type to John Edwards': Fine, poker-straight, golden red highlights.

I pay $13 and tip $5.

And mine's better looking.


Wull then you better pray good you don't become a victim too, Biss.

Fred said...

If there are victims in the process, it's voters forced to consume partisan garbage while the merits of issues are avoided. We all know that attacking people is easier than attacking ideas and due to polarized politics, we'll get a fair amount of attacks covered in heaps of bullshit.

I'm surprised you would characterize this as victimization! He is playing the role of a manipulative political predator: craftily shaping ideas and minds while taking a jab at his adversaries. Given the audience, it was executed flawlessly. I play the game enough to know sharks when I see 'em. I'd explain further, but some of the sharks that frequent this blog would swallow me whole if I did.

In eras of polarized politics, you learn to become a manipulative blood-sucking advocate or you'll fall victim to one.

*whistles innocently* :)

The Kenosha Kid said...

But of course we should attack them! They can fight back, and then we can respond to that, perhaps by saying that they're indulging in "victimology." They need to think through whether it helps their cause very much to seem thin-skinned and to act prudishly offended when we speak of superficial things.

Strange choice of words for someone who is always reminding her readers about who often she votes for them.

Fred said...

I just re-read the post, re: victimization, looks like we're in agreement on that point.

P. Rich said: Victimology is the cornerstone of the Democratic Party, Althouse...

I was drinking soda while reading the comments and spit soda all over myself! It perfectly illustrates Anne's point. Thanks for the laugh, the dry cleaning bill is in the mail!

dave™© said...

Oh, joy, another drunken tirade from the ever-tiresome Blithering Misogynist Idiot.

Really, you're not half as entertaining as you used to be when you pretended not to be just another moronic brownshirt fuck.

No one believed you, of course, but it was amusing to watch you tie yourself in knots denying it.

Now, you're just another Hitchens imitator. Who fucking needs it?

John Stodder said...

Really, you're not half as entertaining as you used to be when you pretended not to be just another moronic brownshirt fuck.

No one believed you, of course, but it was amusing to watch you tie yourself in knots denying it.


Oooh, another "Heather" heard from.

Might be good to remind this twerp that his "Mean Girls" act works a lot better if he posts his little hissy fits higher up in the comments. See, moron, by now, a whole lot of people have already taken this post seriously, so you're "nobody likes you" tantrum isn't exactly on point.

David53 said...

Now, you're just another Hitchens imitator. Who fucking needs it?

Apparently you do or else you wouldn't be showing up here all the time. Funny!

My hair's very similar in type to John Edwards': Fine, poker-straight, golden red highlights.

I pay $13 and tip $5.


I pay $6 and $1 tip. My barber is a 78 year old woman who has been cutting hair for 50 years. Now that would be a great photo op for any of them!