The other day I mocked a few people who seem to think the most important aspect of Bush’s visit to Iraq was the opportunity to once again revisit the bogus claims that Bush help up a ‘fake turkey’ in a previous visit to Iraq. As the person I was chiding was a Democrat, predictably, the comments section here exploded:
That’s right, it should be possible to watch your country being dragged into the ditch and listen to the chestbeating of the a–holes who are doing it, and remain completely level headed at all times, never utter an oath, never lose your temper, always be non-petty and always be congenial.
You know, like you are.
F—you, John. Really, f— you. Don’t you ever get tired of being the phony a–hole?
How convenient for you to carve out a little ledge to sit on like a word-pigeon and s— on the passers by …. while your country is going to hell in a handbasket.
Very admirable, really. All props to you.
That reaction was pretty amusing on several levels, but in particular, it was ironic because it so completely missed my point:
This administration has screwed up so many things that it is hard to keep track, and yet some still persist in being petty and foolish about things that not only don’t matter, but aren’t even true.
I have come to the conclusion that this administration has screwed up a number of things, but most importantly, as Andrew Sullivan states, “they have screwed up a war they described as vital to our national security.” Pretty much. Combined with the fiscal irresponsibility, the lack of foresight in regards to this nation’s long-term fiscal well-being, the seeming deference to the lunatic fringe of the religious right, and the contempt for science, mixed in with the gay-bashing and the apparent love for a nanny-state in which privacy and liberty are quaint ideas, and I see no reason to vote Republican in 2006 and 2008. Yet, it seems, there are those on the activist left who seem to think the way to throw these guys out of office is to emulate them- to be as petty, as mean, and as offensive as Rove on his worst day.
It makes no sense. You already have a core of people who are going to vote Democratic- it would seem to me that you would want to reach out to libertarians, moderate and disaffected Republicans (like me), and expand your appeal. Not, as it appears, some have chose, to prove that the Democrats can be just as irritating as the Republicans. Today’s example of this silliness come from an apoplectic Peter Daou:
Let me first say that Bush may not have known he was talking to a legally blind reporter when he engaged in this exchange:
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Peter. Are you going to ask that question with shades on?
Q I can take them off.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m interested in the shade look, seriously.
Q All right, I’ll keep it, then.
THE PRESIDENT: For the viewers, there’s no sun. (Laughter.)
Q I guess it depends on your perspective. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Touche. (Laughter.)
As Think Progress notes, “[Peter] Wallsten is legally blind. Wallsten tells us he has a rare genetic disorder called Stargardt’s Disease. The disease is a form of macular degeneration that can be slowed “by wearing UV-protective sunglasses and avoiding exposure to bright light.”
The point of this post is not that Bush intentionally taunted a blind man, but that his insistence on clowning with the press is undignified and highly inappropriate.
The title of the post was “Bush’s Banter Goes Too Far: Taunting a Blind Man.”
For the past five+ years, many on the right have chalked up any and every legitimate criticism of Bush to “BDS- Bush Derangement Syndrome.” It is a way to effectively dismiss criticisms by snidely stating that the people making the criticisms are ‘insane’ and ‘deranged.’ It is a transparent attempt to shift issues when there is no defense for the criticisms, and it happens all the time. However, as I have stated before, it does appear that some people (in this case, Daou), are deranged when it comes to the President. They may have a whole host of reasons to be angry at Bush (I sure do), but it doesn’t make them sound any less nuts when they write things like this.
So let’s clear some things up- Bush didn’t taunt a blind man. He playfully teased a reporter in a press conference about wearing sunglasses. Bush did not know (nor did Peter Daou, I wager), that Wallsten is legally blind.
Second, legally blind is not the same as blind. Bush did not stand up and openly mock Stevie Wonder. He joked with someone he thought was inappropriately wearing sunglasses at a press conference. He, nor anyone else, for that matter, had anyway of knowing Wallsten was legally blind:
Wallsten said he interrupted and told the president that no apology was necessary and that he didn’t feel offended since he hadn’t told anyone at the White House about his condition.
Finally, this last Daou update takes the cake:
I’ll reiterate my point: it’s not this particular case – where Bush now admits he screwed up – but Bush’s juvenile joshing that is so unbecoming of a U.S. president at a time of war.
We have spent almost the past five years with the GOP and this administration using the ‘war’ and 9/11 as excuses for anything and everything- it appears that Daou just wants in on the action. The idea that we should flay alive the President for being insufficiently serious (to Daou’s standards, at least), because we are at a ‘time of war’ is the kind of crap I would expect to dribble out of Karl Rove’s mouth.
None of this is going to make me vote for the GOP in the fall. It doesn’t matter how insane and crazy the activist left is, I am not voting for Rove/Cheney/Santorum/et. al., which is how I have come to view this administration. They had their shot, they got my votes, and they blew it and proceeded to advance an agenda that is, almost to an issue, diametrically opposed to my beliefs. I don’t think that because Kos, Peter Daou, and the Huffington Post are clearly insane when it comes to Bush that it means the Democrats are unfit for office. But I am not the target audience- my mind is made up.
I do, however, think that when the insane people are the most vocal components of the Democratic left, it will turn off a lot of undecided middle-of-the-road voters- in other words, the exact people you should be courting. The middle of the country does not want the Santorum right in charge anymore, but neither do they want the Democratic Underground. When the left seems to be represented by the lunatic fringe, the outcome will be predictable. Rather than going to the polls and voting for a democrat for the first time in two decades, people will get turned off, seeing no real choice- just achoice between two parties run by crazy people.
And in case you can’t figure it out on your own, I will make it clearer. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT KARL ROVE WANTS. His base is going to show up- they are going to bash immigrants, homosexuals, whip up some religious controversy, and call anyone with legitimate criticisms of the war traitors, and their base will show up. We will probably hear Terri Schiavo’s name for the first time in a while, and I am sure they will cook up some anti-abortion or anti-gay marriage ballots for the state level to make sure the Falwell right comes out to vote. What they need to win, though, is an economy that isn’t disastrous and a bunch of disaffected voters to decide that there really is no reason to vote because they think the left is just as nuts as the right.