September 1, 2017

The "skeeviness" of the 1990s "gave us the Trump Teens."

That's the puzzling teaser on the front page of the NYT right now:
Who the hell are the Trump teens?, I wondered long enough to decide to write this post. It's hard to get used to the expression "the teens" to refer to this decade we're in. The first two decades of the century have been this weird anomaly, interfering with our conventional style of talking about decades. It's messed with our minds.

Soon enough, we'll be in the 20s and back to our old way of talking, the old decadism. "The teens" — it doesn't even make sense, what with the first 3 years not having "-teen" in the name. We wandered groggily through those 3 years, still reeling from that first decade of the new millennium, the decade we just refrain from talking about casually.

And don't tell me we called it "the aughts." We didn't. We called it nothing. It was the decade with no name. If we had to refer to it, we just described it, with some blabber of words like the first decade of the new millennium or we said something like "the ohs" and proceeded to explain what we were talking about so it took even longer.

Now that I know this is just an article saying one decade led not to the next decade but the one after that, I really don't care. I'm wistful about the loss of the nonexistent teenagers who somehow, being children when Bill Clinton was President, fell in love with Donald Trump. I still haven't read the article. I'm curious to see if there's some idea that the political effort to pull Bill through his sexual harassment troubles desensitized people to flaws in Trump that might otherwise have been effectively exploited.

The article is adapted from a book by David Friend, “The Naughty Nineties: The Triumph of the American Libido.” Ugh! "Naughty Nineties." When I was growing up in the 50s, I always heard about "the roaring 20s" and "the naughty 90s" (meaning the 1890s, of course). Those were the 2 big decades, so exciting they had their own special adjective. I remember asking my parents what the decades I'd lived in were called. My mother informed me that the 50s were called "the fabulous 50s." And the 60s? She said: "the sexy 60s."

Anyway. From the article:
[A] Trump presidency would never have been possible had the ’90s not normalized new depths of voyeurism, mudslinging and hardball politics. That decade had its dark-arts tacticians, such as Roger Ailes, Rudolph Giuliani and Newt Gingrich, and the recent election had its equivalents, such as, well, Roger Ailes, Rudolph Giuliani and Newt Gingrich. Bill Clinton’s base warmed to his naughtiness, neediness and narcissism; Mr. Trump’s did precisely the same....

Ever since, it has been hard to miss the 1990s underpinnings of the Trump Teens. The tabloidism. The gutter talk. The kinky dossiers. (Remember the X-rated Starr report?) Had America not absorbed the sheer skeeviness of that decade, how else would it have become comfortable electing a thrice-married man who ran beauty contests and graced casinos, one of them with a strip club, with his name — a man accused of a string of unwanted sexual advances and assaults (all of which he denied)?
Yeah, strip that down to the essential, and it's what I said: Bill Clinton paved the way for Donald Trump.

As for "skeeviness" — which remains interesting, even as the "Trump teens" turn out to be only a group of years — it's a great word with a strong origin story. Here's Mark Liberman at Language Log:
I knew I'd heard ["skeevy"] before, but I figured it was just another onomatopoeic amalgam.

According to the OED, I was wrong. The gloss, as you'd expect, is "Disgusting, distasteful, or dirty; discomforting; sleazy". But the etymology is more interesting:
[< Italian regional (Tuscany) schifo, adjective (< Italian schifo (noun) sense of repugnance, nausea, disgust (1353 in Boccaccio) < Old French eschif hostile, fierce: see ESCHEW a.) + -Y. Cf. later SKEEVE v., SKEEVE n.]
And the first citation brings it close to home:
1976 J. D'ALESSANDRO in Philadelphia Mag. Mar. 125/1 The word ‘skeevie’ used by South Philadelphians to indicate something disgusting is from Italian ‘schifare’, to loathe.
I'm a little skeptical about South Philly slang coming from Tuscany, though.


tim in vermont said...

I love how it's "voyeurism" to be concerned that a man who used his position as governor of Arkansas to rape a supporter who wanted to talk about nursing homes, since she ran one.

Talk about complete disregard for the value of a woman beyond her pussy. If you're governor, they'll let you rape 'em in the pussy! At least to be afraid to report it!

tim in vermont said...

So yeah, running that same fucking couple gave us Trump, that's undeniable.

tim in vermont said...

He could have been patrolling the West Wing this morning for fresh talent and the deplorables ruined what was none of their business, deplorable voyeurs.

rehajm said...

Had America not absorbed the sheer skeeviness of that decade, how else would it have become comfortable electing a thrice-married man who ran beauty contests and graced casinos, one of them with a strip club, with his name — a man accused of a string of unwanted sexual advances and assaults (all of which he denied)?

This sounds like the historical leadership of many European nations. American lefties are always pointing at European nations and crying, 'Why can't we have that here?'

Well there ya go...

peacelovewoodstock said...

I recall circa 1999 a lot of only slightly tongue-in-cheek concern over how we would refer to the coming decade .. the "oughts"? the "ohs"? the "two thousands?"

Looking back I can't recall what we called it, or that it ever mattered at all.

By proclaiming these the "Trump Teens", the Washington Fishwrap elevates the man. What other president, or person for that matter, has been so pivotal a figure as to have a decade named after him or her?

The only nicknamed decades I can think of are the gay nineties and the roaring twenties.

traditionalguy said...

What about the medium is the message? The 90s were the dawining of the age of digital Dot Coms , the cell phones and the go everywhere PCs. Which sort of did make Mr Communications our inevitable President, once he was through with grabbing the pussies, erecting the Towers and gambling on the Atlantic City Casinos. Once he had the time for us, he had the tools to get us.

Hagar said...

I remember the '50s being derisively called the "Silent '50s" by the "woke" generation of rebel students of the '60s and '70's. Surely AA remembers that too?

Hagar said...

But those were the "good" years if we had only known it!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I'm a little skeptical about South Philly slang coming from Tuscany, though.


A diverse community, South Philadelphia is known for its large Italian American population.

rehajm said...

Skeeviness can't exist if you still want to blow the guy.

tim in vermont said...

He forgot about electing a two term state senator who's professional qualification was rabble rouser and who was the least qualified president ever,I would say.

Saint Croix said...

The Roaring 20's
The Great Depression
The 1940's
Back to Normalcy
The Swingin' 60's
The Me Decade
The Greed Decade
The 90's
The no-names
Still no names

CJinPA said...

"Schifoso" was a somewhat common word among my Italian friends in Phila. A local sports radio guy would use it for his weekly ranking of rotten developments in local sports.

tim in vermont said...

Well if he denied it... Remember when he was caught on tape? "Deny, deny, deny."

He made the Democrats sell out their beliefs, and the press went along. Democrats should hate him the most, but they can't admit to themselves how they have been played. Surprised they lost their credibility with Americans.

MadisonMan said...

So, we shouldn't have been partying like it was 1999? Because it was skeevy?

Matt Sablan said...

So, wait. Is Puritanism in again? I remember not too long ago we were being told things like "it is just sex" or "it doesn't matter" regarding skeeviness.

iowan2 said...

Here is the lens to read this article through.
The media used to have the ultimate power, to make and destroy their elected puppets.
The media made Bill Clinton and his wife. Protected them from their own self destruction. Same with Obama. A person that will never be eclipsed by his raw, non-existent resume of accomplishing anything but being a blank canvas.
The media also used its power to destroy. Think Mitt Romney. Never has the nation seen such a supremely prepared person to be President. But the all powerful media, in its true fickle nature, decided, no. So he was gone. For a teenage hair cut, and giving a ride to his dog in an kennel on top of a car, horrors!
But now, President Trump has changed that all. He tweeted his way to the Presidency. By-passed the media.
What President Trumps has exposed is the very simple fact, that if you don't allow the media the power to create you, the media can't destroy you.

Right now there are two prominent people that the media can't destroy. President Trump, and Rush Limbaugh. For the very simple reason that the media had nothing to do with creating them. This is explains the fear you see in the eyes of the on air talking heads. They cannot destroy them, the way the have for ever.

Anonymous said...

"And don't tell me we called it "the aughts." We didn't."

I did (and do) all the time. Or "the aughties". Seems perfectly sensible to me.

tim in vermont said...

I voted for Romney, now I am glad he lost

Rusty said...

Now they're just making shit up.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Right, all those hardball mudslingers were Republicans, yeah. If not for them we'd have had nice clean elections. Big time.

The NYTimes writers probably even believe it! Sad.

Anonymous said...

Lefties noting and bewailing the degradation of national culture is of a piece with their recent convenient re-discovery of the concepts of "patriotism" and "treason".

It's like they've passed directly from screaming, self-indulgent adolescence to fatuous old-farthood, skipping all the grades of adulthood in between.

Joe Schmoe said...

I'm old enough to remember when lefties touted the 90s as the halcyon days of the Clinton epoch. I guess they don't seem so great now that Hillary killed the Democratic party.

traditionalguy said...

In 1960 the way JFK ran was saying that he could fix the terrible 1950s, unlike Eisenhower's guy who would only continue the boring peace and prosperity under Ike.

JFK promised to change that. And he won and it changed.

Sally327 said...

I thought hardball politics started with Lee Atwater back in the 1980s, the Willie Horton ad.

I don't really think that, though, I think politics has always been a dirty business. Maybe the difference now is that it's harder to cover up how nasty it is. We more clearly see that man behind the curtain, moving the levers this way or that.

It's possible that how it is now is an improvement over how it used to be. We know exactly what we're getting with these elected officials. No more hiding health problems (Kennedy) or corruption (Agnew). Or not so easy. Even if the traditional media outlets are in the bag for a particular candidate or party, there are all these alternative sources for news and information.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Also, you know, the Media has been sniffing at backward regressive hung-up squares on the right pretty much forever, haven't they? You know--"we should be more relaxed about sexual matters, shouldn't care about Presidents banging interns, should be cool about the whole thing like those suave French citizens," etc.
Now, suddenly, they want to say our lack of disgust at a sexually liberated dude like Donald T-rump is some mark against us?
What an odd reversal. If only there were some way to explain it...

Anonymous said...

tim in vermont: I voted for Romney, now I am glad he lost.

I didn't vote for Romney, and I'm still glad I didn't.

(Being on vacation and avoiding the news, I had missed his final descent into the most abject reaches of "Do it to Julia!" cuckery over Charlottesville. Jesus wept.)

wendybar said...

The lawlessness of the previous administration is what brought about the Trump Presidency. PERIOD.

tcrosse said...

I thought hardball politics started with Lee Atwater back in the 1980s, the Willie Horton ad.

Hardball politics was old when Hammurabi handed down his code.

bagoh20 said...

I got a question:

What keystroke combination do I often hit that erases my whole comment before I can post it? I do this all the time, and every time it happens I lose one of the greatest comments ever typed by 1000 monkeys at a keyboard.

I somehow do this all the time by accident, yet I can't seem to duplicate the action deliberately.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

You know what, though? It's really a good lesson and one might almost sympathize with the Left--were the problem not of their own making they'd actually deserve pity!

It's the problem with debasing your currency! Once done it can't easily be undone.

A personally-sleazy guy like Clinton wouldn't stand a chance (in moral terms) against a personally-upright guy like George HW Bush (nor against Dole), so the Dems and the Media decided their best strategy was debasement--to make something like "personal morality/personal behavior" worth much less than it used to be. Like most debasement schemes that worked in the very short run but harmed everyone in the long run. The culture shifted and adopted the idea that personal sexual behavior/misbehavior matters less than it used to.

Obama has a pretty clean, upright personal life as far as we know. He doesn't get much credit for that, though, since that doesn't matter anymore. Why doesn't it matter? Well because the Dems and Media pushed the idea that it shouldn't matter. Ok.

Comes now candidate Trump and the Left (along with 16 or so Repub. candidates!) insist that he isn't fit for office, partially for reasons of his own sordid personal life. Whoops! Too bad that doesn't matter anymore, right? If not for the cultural shift--engineered and overseen by the Left--that made Bill Clinton's bad behavior not matter perhaps Trump's personal history would matter now...but it doesn't.

How is Trump's joke that he could shoot someone on 5th Ave and still be supported any more extreme than prominent Lefty "journalist" Nina Burleigh saying she'd happily give Bill Clinton a blowjob to thank him for "keeping abortion legal," a sentiment apparently shared widely on the Left?

The cultural forces that protected Clinton and make it--to this day!--impossible to judge him harshly for his bad behavior are the same ones that made President Trump possible. Those cultural forces were created and wielded by the Left.

Big Mike said...

I find it interesting that their list of "dark arts [political] tacticians" doesn't include David Axelrod, Rahm and Zeke Emanuel, Ben Rhodes, etc.

In the end a lot of perfectly rational voters were forced to choose between Donald Trump's skeevy peccadilloes and Hillary Clinton's massive personal corruption and open contempt for working people all the way from those just getting by from paycheck to.paycheck up through the comfortable-but-scarcely-rich middle class. It wasn't that hard s choice.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

The never-ending Corrupt Hillary lost butt-hurt.

When will the media ask Hillary to disavow antifa fascist leftist progressive thugs who beat innocents Asians in Berkley?

oh right- never.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

I remember having a conversation about Bill Clinton with a female coworker back in the 90s. She was a Democrat and vehemently insisted oral sex wasn't sex. One can only imagine my disappointment of not having known her during my high school days.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Leftwing aholes at the NYT are jealous that Bill Rapist Clinton could never get a wife as hot as Melania.

Infinite Monkeys said...

I voted for Romney, now I am glad he lost

I did too, but now I'm disappointed in him. I still would prefer to have had him instead of Obama.

Chris N said...

Madison Man,

Obviously you've confused the gluttonous 80's with the skeevy 90's.

Rookie mistake

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I voted for Romney and still think his election might have started to turn things around (Big Government/cultural decline-wise) but I am angered almost beyond expression at his endorsement of violent Leftists. It's really inexcusable.

F'in Nancy Pelosi got the message that it's ok to denounce Antifa (probably as a result of some polling, but still) before people like Romney, Rubio, and Ryan did. That's shameful and not something I will forget.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

If you willingly debase your currency why would you then complain that your coins won't buy as much as they used to?
They're not that stupid--they know they're mostly to blame.

Biff said...

The professor wrote: I'm a little skeptical about South Philly slang coming from Tuscany, though.

Yes. The direct source more likely is a southern Italian or Napolitano variant, like schifezza (last vowel often silent), which was not uncommonly used in my old neighborhood in northern NJ. It almost sounds Yiddish.

n.n said...

Establishment of the Pro-Choice (i.e. selective, opportunistic, unprincipled) Church is a first-order forcing/normalization of evermore progressive liberal (i.e. divergent) people in a society. Clinton represented the culmination of female chauvinism. While Obama represented the culmination of class/color diversity, redistributive change (e.g. progressive debt), and [global] social justice adventures (e.g. elective wars, regime changes, CAIR).

Michael K said...

"the naughty 90s" (meaning the 1890s, of course).

No, the 1890s were called "The Gay Nineties."

There used to be two great nightclubs in LA that were side by side in Hollywood. One was called "The Roaring Twenties" and the other was called "The Gay Nineties." They were owned by the same guy and featured costumes and music from the two eras.

Maybe the name gave somebody in west Hollywood an idea.

Michael K said...

I thought hardball politics started with Lee Atwater back in the 1980s, the Willie Horton ad. "

The Willie Horton ad did not start with Lee Atwater, might be one reason. That is an old leftist myth.

The first use of the Willie Horton story was by Al Gore in the Democrat primary.

The Massachusetts furlough problem had already been in the news for months when Dukakis and Al Gore sparred in a Democratic primary debate in April 1988. “If you were elected President, would you advocate a similar program for federal penitentiaries?” Gore asked—“to hoots and laughter from the audience,” The Los Angeles Times reported. Gore didn’t mention Horton by name, but it didn’t take long for Bush’s political strategist Lee Atwater and his team of opposition researchers to see a golden opportunity.

:Lefties always forget that part, somehow.

Ann Althouse said...

""the naughty 90s" (meaning the 1890s, of course).' No, the 1890s were called "The Gay Nineties.""

I've been hearing both for a long time. "Naughty Nineties" was a movie title in the 1940s (for Abbott & Costello). The Wikipedia article on the subject characterizes "Naughty Nineties" as British, for what it's worth.

I agree that "Gay Nineties" is more common, even though it didn't come to mind when I was writing this post. I honestly don't remember which phrase I heard when I was a child thinking about decades having official names.

I'm remembering the conversation with my mother better now. I think I was asking prospectively about the 60s: What do you think the 60s will be called? and needing to explain that (as I understood it) every decade had a name. My mother opined that she thought it would be "The sexy 60s." What a thing to say to a 9 year old!

Ralph L said...

My parents went to see "Hair" in LA in 69, when we were 8-12. They told us about the nude opening and brought home the soundtrack album. I don't think my mother knew what the dirty words meant.

bago, do you preview, or is it lost first? I usually Ctrl-c a long comment.

tcrosse said...

The 80's were the Al Franken Decade.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

What Saturday Night Live vet authored a book with the gun-buyback idea: "Hand in a gun, get a free vial of crack." ?

Michael K said...

I never heard the "Naughty 90s"

Maybe it was a Wisconsin thing.

rcocean said...

Gay Nineties
Roaring Twenties
Dirty Thirties

Swinging Sixties?

rcocean said...

"I didn't vote for Romney, and I'm still glad I didn't."

Me too. Unlike the traitorous Anti-Trumpers, i just went AWOL during the 2012 campaign. If you can't support the nominee, then just shut up and don't support the Democrat.

rcocean said...

1901-1919 - No nicknames. 'Teens and 'Oughts' - probably too hard.

rcocean said...

There was nothing wrong with the Willie Horton ad. The Duke let a killer out on parole and he killed someone. Happened to be black. The Duke then defended the parole program. Cant make an omelet without breaking a few eggs or something. He was a proud member of the ACLU.

Its funny how the liberals can wave "racism" around like kyrponite - and it makes everyone run for cover and get weak in the knees.

tim in vermont said...

Romney is first and foremost a venture capitalist. Labor to him is an item on a spreadsheet. Hence his love of immigration, especially pliable illegal immigrants. You don't actually have to hire them yourself for them to drive down the bargaining power of your workers. Makes the deals sweeter. If you can cut your labor costs by a million a year, that equals many millions you van pocket when you flip the company.

I know, that's racist.

Big Mike said...

I wonder how many people have actually seen the Willie Horton ad? It's been branded as "racist," but only a small fraction of the people playing prisoners in the ad are black.

So that people understand the issue, liberal lunatic Michael Dukakis, governor of Massachusetts, pushed through a prison "reform" so that criminals, including first degree murderers sentenced to life without parole, would be allowed weekend furloughs. Unsurprisingly, a number of these prisoners (268 at the time the ad was run) escaped custody and committed additional violent crimes such as rape and murder.

What made Horton's case unique was not his skin color but that he fled Massachusetts and committed his additional violent crimes in Maryland. He raped a woman, tied up and stabbed her fiance, and stole the man's car. He was captured and sentenced to consecutive life terms in Maryland, and the Maryland judge refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, pointing out that he'd just be furloughed again.

How many working brain cells does it take to realize that a violent criminal, convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole, ought not to be allowed a weekend furlough? More than Michael Dukakis had, that's for sure.

Mitch H. said...

Hell, I called 'em the Double Oughts, or the Oughts when I wasn't feeling clever. Not my fault you weren't into the whole labeling thing.

Teens seems good enough for the current decade. Unless you'd prefer "the end of civilization as we know it."

Anonymous said...

Why would a decade be named after a man who's only president for the final 3 years of it (or 2 years, if the next decade begins on January 1, 2020)? "Trump Teens" has a catchy alliteration, but it makes no sense. Or are we in a Twilight Zone situation where we've now just forgotten our previous President even existed? Did recent memory only begin in November 2017, making Trump somehow responsible for the 7 years before he was sworn into office?

Gahrie said...

I thought hardball politics started with Lee Atwater back in the 1980s, the Willie Horton ad.

Hardball politics goes back to at least the election of 1800. The use of television in pursuit of hardball politics goes back to the daisy ad against Goldwater.

MacMacConnell said...

I blame JFK, the amphetamine addicted, sexual predator and voyeur of the 60s.

Anonymous said...

Apologies, I miscounted. A full 3 years, not 2. But still- why would a decade be named after the man who was only president for a third of it?

Martin said...

Bill Clinton DID pave the way for Donald Trump, at least in that the Access Hollywood tape was a big nothing after the country had already come to terms with far worse in its President and his enabler, the First Lady now running for President. Well, that and all the excuses they made for Edward Kennedy, one of the more vile misogynists in our recent history.

After excusing those two, they had no credibility at all in trying to convince us that Trump was somehow beyond the pale.

Michael K said...

I agree that Bill Clinton ruled out the morality argument against Trump.

It began with the cringe-inducing bit about "boxers or briefs?" interview.

Darrell said...

Go-Go Sixties.
Can the DJIA ever top 700?

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

"My parents went to see "Hair" in LA in 69, when we were 8-12. They told us about the nude opening and brought home the soundtrack album. "

The Canadian novelist Robertson Davies (born in the teens) saw "Hair" and was not impressed with the nude scenes. He wrote of the pubic hair of the cast hanging like the sporran on a Highlander's kilt. Nobody who sees a nude scene these days would make that complaint.

Darrell said...

They told us about the nude opening

The original cold open.

Ralph L said...

The sporran is designed to keep the kilt down and hiding the pubes for those that go "regimental".

Mom said years later that people always look better with clothes, so I guess she wasn't impressed, either.

Will Cate said...

Sometimes you don't even have to click the link to tell that this is one of those pile-of-horseshit articles.

Jim at said...

Wait a minute.

They're blaming Trump's election on Bill Clinton's rapes, sexual harassment and perjury?


With each passing day, the insanity of the left continues unabated.

tcrosse said...

They're blaming Trump's election on Bill Clinton's rapes, sexual harassment and perjury?

No, they're blaming it on the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy's overreaction to that loveable scamp's little peccadilloes. And we're not buying it.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

10, 11, and 12 are teens, because teen stands for ten. Still, we refer to centuries as if they only have 8 decades. It's easier that way. Our number-naming system is screwy -- it not only makes naming decades difficult, it makes calculations harder when they involve numbers 11 through 19. We should call 13 "teenthree", or "tenthree", and the words "eleven" and "twelve" shouldn't exist. I'd love to blame the Arabs, but it probably belongs to the French.

Anthony said...

Back at the start of the '90s, Dennis Hopper was quoted in a movie* saying something like "The '90s are gonna make the '60s look like the '50s".

Instead, the '90s made the '80s look like the '60s.

(* Flashback)

tim in vermont said...

Ha! Counter-culture hero and artist Robert Crumb on women and fame:

When your famous, they'l let you do anything!

ChrisW said...

I have/had the same dislike of the 'aughts.' I don't have much problem with the 'teens' (although this is the first I've heard of the 'Trump teens' and it sounds like it's going to be accurate.)

In hindsight, I would call the 'aughts' "The 21st Century." As in '9/11 was the first significant event of the 21st Century.' All that stuff we experienced in the 20th Century? Well that's not how we roll these days.