Like I Said

Just got around to reading the Gerson piece DougJ linked to earlier, and I want to repost the part DougJ highlighted plus a little:

But the Internet is also a permanent record, as Weigel found. His reaction to exposure was honest and admirable. He admitted to being “cocky” and “needlessly mean” — the kind of introspection that promises future contribution. But when members of the Ugly Party are exposed, generally they respond differently. Obscenity? The real obscenity is an unjust war, or imposing socialism or devotion to Israel. It is an argument that makes any deep policy disagreement an excuse for verbal violence. Or an offense against taste and judgment is dismissed as humor and satire.

The alternative to the Ugly Party is the Grown-Up Party — less edgy and less hip. It is sometimes depicted on the left and on the right as an all-powerful media establishment, stifling creativity, freedom and dissent. The Grown-Up Party, in my experience, is more like a seminar at the Aspen Institute — presentation by David Broder, responses from E.J. Dionne Jr. and David Brooks — on the electoral implications of the energy debate. I am more comfortable in this party for a few reasons: because it is more responsible, more reliable and less likely to wish its opponents would die.

I think my analysis of Gerson and the rest of the village the other day summarizes this warped viewpoint rather succinctly:

The rules still hold true- all sorts of disgusting and bizarre worldviews are acceptable among the “toilet-trained” Beltway elites (Krauthammer, Will, Thiessen, Kristol, and many others still write for the WaPo), but don’t drink out of the finger bowl or use a four letter word or your ass is history.

Sincere panels about the appropriateness of crushing a child’s testicles are acceptable and serious op-eds about the necessity for torture are welcome, but dropping an f-bomb on a private listserv is simply inexcusable and cause for a serious case of the vapors.






56 replies
  1. 1
    D.N. Nation says:

    I am more comfortable in this party for a few reasons: because it is more responsible, more reliable and less likely to wish its opponents would die.

    And yet, Chuckles Douchehammer is a member of this “party.”

  2. 2
    Kryptik says:

    That’s the utterly frustrating thing about political media…or media in general. It’s all about process over substance. You can try and advocate for the worst things ever, such as torture and genocide, but for god’s sake, don’t say anything MEAN about anyone unless they’re foreign or something.

  3. 3
    The Moar You Know says:

    You need to get out and talk to a few sociologists, John. Betraying a member of your own tribe is the worst offense possible in any given group of human beings. Members of other tribes simply don’t count.

    The Village and the rest of politics becomes a lot more understandable when you look at it through the lens of primate behavior, rather than trying to understand it using the distorted terminology that human beings assign their own cultural practices.

    Shorter me: we’re all monkeys.

  4. 4
    Zifnab says:

    The Grown-Up Party, in my experience, is more like a seminar at the Aspen Institute—presentation by David Broder, responses from E.J. Dionne Jr. and David Brooks—on the electoral implications of the energy debate.

    Because god forbid we actually discuss Energy Policy, except to have George Will fervently deny the existence of lung cancer global warming or David Brooks to remark on Al Gore’s waste line and house.

    No, the real grown-ups are discussing the electoral implications of the energy debate, without showing any interest in the policy itself. Then we’ll invite the AEI (Americans for Exxon Institute) next week to explain why we need to blow up more brown people in the Middle East so we can steal their oil.

    Fuck the “grown ups”. When they’re not blatantly lying or getting things totally wrong just for kicks (Applebee’s salad bar!), they’re out shilling for corporate overlords that sponsor their next cocktail parties.

  5. 5
    twiffer says:

    couldn’t agree more. this:

    It is an argument that makes any deep policy disagreement an excuse for verbal violence. Or an offense against taste and judgment is dismissed as humor and satire.

    is what cliches it for me. so, if someone is trying to justify torture to me for the umpteenth time and i finally just tell them to fuck off and die, they obviously have the higher moral ground. cause i cussed.

    sure, that makes perfect sense. if you’re a sociopath.

  6. 6
    geg6 says:

    I say, fuck ’em.

    Guess I’m not a grown-up.

    Thank, FSM, for that if being one means being like Gerson, Goldberg, Krauthammer, David Brooks, Marc Theissen, George Will, Bill Kristol, or David Broder.

  7. 7
    Paris says:

    I can’t think of anything more irrelevant to the energy debate than its electoral implications. But I don’t live in Washington.

  8. 8
    balconesfault says:

    So which party does telling someone to “Go fuck yourself” on the Senate floor entitle you to belong to?

  9. 9
    Asshole says:

    I think “The Grown-Up Party” should be a new tag. Or maybe “The Ugly Party versus The Grown-Up Party.”

  10. 10
    Zifnab says:

    @balconesfault: IOKIYAGUP?

  11. 11
    Crusty Dem says:

    Saying someone should set themselves on fire is horrible, unreasonable obscenity; suggesting genocide is simply thinking outside the box. And the powers that be agree completely with this statement.

    And these people really don’t understand why we’re losing the rest of the world? They assume it’s because everyone else is anti-semitic? There’s nothing quite like listening to people with absolutely no moral core complaining about the atrocious behavior of others..

  12. 12
    Zed says:

    Sincere panels about the appropriateness of crushing a child’s testicles are acceptable and serious op-eds about the necessity for torture are welcome, but dropping an f-bomb on a private listserv is simply inexcusable and cause for a serious case of the vapors.

    But that’s not even completely accurate. Dick Cheney can tell a colleague to go fuck himself, and gets to go on the sunday shows to talk about how cathartic it was to say that. It’s not the words you use, it’s who they are directed at that matters.

  13. 13
    PeakVT says:

    But when members of the Ugly Party are exposed, generally they respond differently. Obscenity? The real obscenity is an unjust war, or imposing so©ialism or devotion to Israel. It is an argument that makes any deep policy disagreement an excuse for verbal violence.

    How can somebody not find an entirely unjustified war obscene?

    I’m not going to cuss at Gerson, but I will invite him to jump in the nearest available lake.

  14. 14
    Dave says:

    “Dave Weigel is ugly” will for this week take the place of “Al Gore is fat.”

  15. 15

    all the pub weigel has inspired, must make it feel like he is watching his own funeral, after dying in a fire, saving orphans, pretty blonde orphans with cheerleader photos, from prominent and well respected families, despite the fact that they are orphans…

  16. 16
    El Cid says:

    Grownups are always willing to talk about the need to bomb the shit out of some brown people and/or pay thugs and death squads to eliminate forces the foreign policy establishment doesn’t like.

    Only the naive and immature and fringe types take seriously a human priority to avoid slaughtering tens and hundreds of thousands of those human-shaped figures in the way of our policies.

  17. 17
    meander says:

    Talking about the electoral implications of energy policy reminds me of teenage gossip — “oh my God, did you see what Lindsey said about Obama? It’s like, whoa, talk about stopping executive proposals. Ya know?” — whereas talking about the, um, policy implications of energy policy is the real grownup talk. Like what will happen to the energy system and environment if a certain policy is implemented.

  18. 18
    NobodySpecial says:

    Well, he’s covered Fred Hiatt’s ass well this month, he probably can expect a small bonus in his stipend.

  19. 19
    burnspbesq says:

    Not sure what to make of this: Breitbart is offering $100,000 for a copy of the complete JournoList archive.

    http://bigjournalism.com/abrei.....protected/

    I suppose one possible explanation is that Breitbart is the biggest poopy-head ever to walk the planet.

  20. 20
    barkleyg says:

    Sincere panels about the appropriateness of crushing a child’s testicles are acceptable and serious op-eds about the necessity for torture are welcome, but dropping an f-bomb on a private listserv is simply inexcusable and cause for a serious case of the vapors.

    Swear words are the excuse of SHALLOW people NOT to read the message.
    I write as I speak, and I swear a lot. I always preface my letters to people who I know or think of as shallow vessels of nothingness: ” I hope you don’t let the language of the messenger take away from the IMPORTANCE of the message.”
    Of course, I never ever get a reply from those people because they prove their shallowness by not responding.
    People who feel that swear words defeat the message are the shallow, Republican people who are destroying our country by their “proper” words, which are total BS!

  21. 21
    GregB says:

    Bush: Hey, there’s Adam Clymer, a major league asshole.

    Cheney: Big time.

    The good old days of comity and decency are lost now.

  22. 22
    Corner Stone says:

    @fucen tarmal:

    all the pub weigel has inspired, must make it feel like he is watching his own funeral, after dying in a fire, saving orphans, pretty blonde orphans with cheerleader photos, from prominent and well respected families, despite the fact that they are orphans…

    In all the meta about Weigel, I’ve wondered if he stepped back and went “WTF?”.
    Because just from my one person anecdote, I had no idea who he was a couple days ago. I saw him on Olberman once or twice but didn’t really click he was any specific person of note, just another contributor for Keith to snark off of.
    Now he’s the original cause celebre and man for all seasons.
    It would be better, at least IMO, if some actual left leaning journalist/opinionista had screwed the pooch and then been utterly rewarded with a gig on MSNBC.
    But all things considered I guess I’m glad the rightwing doesn’t get to claim another scalp.

  23. 23
    stuckinred says:

    @barkleyg: Fuck em if they can’t take a joke.

  24. 24
    danimal says:

    In my real life, I’m pretty quiet, even-tempered and non-confrontational. IOW, a perfect candidate for the Grown Up Party. But damn, Gerson’s missed the boat.

    The important thing about politics isn’t the electoral implications of a policy, IT’S WHAT THE POLICY DOES. I can talk rationally with a well-meaning conservative about any number of topics, but if the policy result is the death of hundreds of thousands of people, be assured I will be passionate and maybe even intemperate. To do less makes me, and anyone claiming to have any morality, less than human.

    Civility is important, but the actual lives of real human beings are more important than succeeding at Washington parlor games.

  25. 25
    Poopyman says:

    And never EVER say “blow job” on TV. Yer ass’ll be history.

  26. 26
    Anoniminous says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    We’re all monkeys

    “I think I’m sophisticated
    ‘Cos I’m living my life like a good homosapien
    But all around me everybody’s multiplying
    Till they’re walking round like flies man
    So I’m no better than the animals sitting in their cages
    in the zoo man
    ‘Cos compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees
    I am an ape man
    I think I’m so educated and I’m so civilized
    ‘Cos I’m a strict vegetarian
    But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
    And the crazy politicians
    I don’t feel safe in this world no more
    I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
    I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an ape man
    I’m an ape man, I’m an ape ape man
    I’m an ape man I’m a King Kong man I’m ape ape man
    I’m an ape man”

    When intellectual nullity meets primate psychology bad things happen:

    1. poo-flinging to protect boundaries (mental, physical, geographical)
    2. attacking those who are not members of the same band
    3. threat displays
    4. enforcing physical and mental discipline on in-group members
    5. quickly climbing the social hierarchy by parental social rank
    6. climbing the political hierarchy using threats and physical conflict

    and 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 …

  27. 27

    @Corner Stone:

    i’m proud like a hipster to say he was on my twitter follows before this all happened…doesn’t mean i thought that much about him, other than he came across with some interesting nuggets, things that would become stories once people spent the time conveying 140 characters of info in 800 words…

    it amazes me that with the gulf, kagan, mcchrystal, and so on, that so much has been said and done. now i thought for a minute that it might be selection bias, i had unwittingly fallen into a nexus of weigel awareness, but the msnbc thing seals it…this story is unexplicably large. meta is the comfort food of journalists i guess.

  28. 28
    bemused says:

    Gerson’s piece is like a Christmas newsletter from an very dysfunctional family that lists all the awesome, wonderful things the above average family is doing pretending everything is fabulous.

  29. 29
    slag says:

    Sincere panels about the appropriateness of crushing a child’s testicles are acceptable and serious op-eds about the necessity for torture are welcome, but dropping an f-bomb on a private listserv is simply inexcusable and cause for a serious case of the vapors.

    It really is some sort of alternative universe I don’t understand. Like Tea Partiers loving the idea of the Patriot Act yet hating Big Government! programs like Health Care Reform.

    It’s one thing to say, “Well, I don’t mind the thought of people being wiretapped without a warrant or being kidnapped by the US Government, but I’m really uncomfortable with the thought of expanding MediCare to include everyone.” At least that argument recognizes the idiosyncratic nature of their worldviews (which we all have). But to pretend their attitudes are based on all-encompassing principles–Free Market!, The Bible!, etc, etc–is flat-out denying reality.

    And that’s what Gerson’s column is here. Just a flat-out denial of reality. The pretense of principle when, really, it’s nothing more than an idiosyncratic (and in my view, thoroughly offensive) application of vague, miscellaneous preferences.

  30. 30
    ajr22 says:

    Way OT: Kyle Boller former Cal quarterback is getting married to Carrie Prejean. I always wondered why a kid with such a good arm was such a bad quarterback. Well now I have my answer…he’s an idiot.

  31. 31

    […] Balloon Juice proprietor John Cole and co-blogger DougJ both take on the premise of Gershon’s column and their commenters […]

  32. 32
    Sirkowski says:

    These fucking guys.

  33. 33

    @ajr22:

    you are being inappropriate….

    of course they both got in trouble for throwing up the picks before taking the sacs.

  34. 34
    Scamp Dog says:

    Best of all is that the ad in the middle of Gerson’s article is for a pearl necklace—just perfect for clutching when you get the vapors!

  35. 35
    Mike G says:

    Shorter Gerson:

    Member of the club politely advocating torture and genocide at a DC soiree = cool with me

    Member of the Great Unwashed advocating ethical, effective and thoughtful policies while using the word ‘fuck’ = ew, bring the fainting couch!

  36. 36
    sparky says:

    as others have noted, this kind of thinking (disparaging of so-called non-serious views) is from time to time on display here as well as in the more refined precincts. one might suggest that over time conventional wisdom blinds all its purveyors.

  37. 37
    Jay S says:

    While the article is largely tripe, there is truth in the view that language use will prejudice the listener in largely predictable ways. We expect people with certain public speech patterns to be of a certain class. The ‘serious’ political class doesn’t speak that way. Like it or not, use of language affects the audience you can reach, and you need to speak to the audience you want to reach in the way that can reach them.

    Of course this has little or nothing to do with Weigel. It wasn’t about the language he used. His sin was to be exposed on the internet as having opinions about the people he was reporting on. Folks can talk that way at a private party without consequence, but write it in a private listserv and you show you don’t belong as part of the class.

  38. 38
    Mumphrey says:

    So this Outside the Beltway guy says:

    For their part, John and Doug merely poison the well. I oppose torture and have since I first gave the matter any significant thought, dating back to my days as a military cadet in the mid-1980s. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue about which one can’t have a serious debate. And you can’t do that if both sides are merely questioning the decency or patriotism of the other.

    And I just don’t understand what he could mean by that. It doesn’t work for 2 reasons. The first is that many so-called “grown-ups” have questioned the decency and patriotism of those they disagreed with for years, now. Didn’t Broder all but say Bill Clinton was a loathesome excuse for a human for getting a blow job? Didn’t Bush, Krauthammer, Michael Kelly before he died, Cheney, et al., make careers out of questioning people’s patriotism? Or maybe it’s all right, since they never came out and questioned it in so many words, they only implied it.

    The other reason is that when you’re dealing with somebody like Jim DeMint or Limbaugh or Cheney or Saxbe Chambliss or Krauthammer or any of a thousand other lifeforms like them, you almost have to acknowledge their lack of basic decency. It’s one of their defining features. I mean, how can you say to somebody, “Well, I think crushing a 4 year old’s balls is wrong, and you think it’s A-O.K., but you’re still a warm, caring, wonderful human being.”? You can’t. I mean, there are some things that you just can’t believe without giving up any claim to decency, and 4 year old ball-crushing is one of them. Marc Thiessen is a loathesome turd. Yes, he might dress well, and know what kind of wine to drink even with exotic dishes like roast venison, and he might go to the best parties, but he’s for torture, and is ipso facto (I love writing that) a loathesome turd.

    How is that so hard to understand?

  39. 39
    Mumphrey says:

    Oh, yeah, another thing you can’t do is be a paid suck-up to some African dictator and hold any claim to “decency”, I don’t care how many bottles your winecellar holds.

  40. 40
    Mike G says:

    We expect people with certain public speech patterns to be of a certain class. The ‘serious’ political class doesn’t speak that way.

    Unless the person is George W. Bush, in which case the cringing Serious press treated his every stupid, proudly-ignorant, comic-book-talk mangled-syntax mumbling with the greatest deference and Seriousness; because his family background made him Naturally Superior.

    He could call a NYT reporter a “major league asshole” into an open mike and still be treated with forelock-tugging obsequiousness by the courtiers of DC.

    You’re either In The Club or you aren’t.

  41. 41
    agorabum says:

    The worst admission was that the GUP discusses “electoral implications” and the Uglies talk about unjust wars.

    Staggering. In the real world, the actual grown ups talk about the degredation of America because of torture and unjust wars. The GUPs sit around and gossip about the horse race, about who is in and who is out. Not about what people are actually doing and what is happening to America. Just who is popular. Jerkoffs.

  42. 42
    Elizabelle says:

    Gerson’s op ed was more interesting to me for what it did not say.

    Namely, we HAVE a grown up in the White House.

    Which makes Gerson’s party and its affiliates (Teapartiers, Party of No Republicans, the Fox News Channel apologists for BP, radio screamjocks, etc.) look even more ludicrous.

    Gerson wrote that column out of fear.

  43. 43
    Ruckus says:

    @stuckinred:
    I always heard it as
    “Joke them if they can’t take a fuck”
    I have dyslexia But then

  44. 44

    So let me see if I have this straight. Dave Weigel says that Matt Drudge should set himself on fire on a listserv and loses his job. Erick Erickson publicly says that a sitting Supreme Court justice is a goat fucking child molester, threatens to shoot census takers with his wife’s shotgun and completely loses his shit and wants to shoot legislators who pass a regulation reducing the amount of phosporous in dish soap and he gets a gig on CNN.

    Could the media in this country be any more full of themselves and full of shit than they already are?

  45. 45
    Jay S says:

    @Mike G: GWB was part of the class from birth. It’s hard to be thrown out of the class. But the political class doesn’t talk like that. If they do, it is politely ignored as is the incident that led up to it. See, guys like Atrios aren’t saying any thing that they can hear, because their profanity filters get triggered too often for anything but noise to get through. Anything said immediately before and after “DFH” is just noise.

    If the profanity is used as an exclamation point, treating it as noise works just fine, especially if it’s apparent that it’s directed to an individual rather than to the group. If it’s more like common punctuation, a lot of content will be ignored by a large part of the audience . That may be the older, more voting prone part of the audience. The speaker will be seen as not saying anything serious.

  46. 46

    The real obscenity is an unjust war

    From wikipedia: Gerson was George W. Bush’s chief speechwriter from 2001-2006.

    Says it all, doesn’t it?

  47. 47
    anselm says:

    Rules for Villagers (excerpted):

    civil discourse requires earnest agonizing over the “ticking time bomb” scenario.

    decisiveness is the opposite of civility.

    to maintain polite separation from the actual (and therefore unsavory) issue, one must maintain a focus on the electoral implications of said issue. this keeps in force the meta-analytic line between the debaters and the electoral masses, and de-accentuates the impolitic differences that may exist as to the merits of the debate itself.

  48. 48
    ricky says:

    Being grown up means making excuses for the Washington Post’s excuse for firing Weigel. Instead of honestly admitting they thought they were hiring a wingnut to cover wingnuts and didn’t bother to proof his resume, they trot out desperately out of touch hacks to tut tut over his e-mail verbiage.

    The favorite spot for the press in Washington is still the Navel Observatory. And thanks, Mr. Gerson, for admitting you view the press as a “party” unto itself, albeit with two wings. I know many must share your view that it is the deserving and rightful “ruling” party.

  49. 49
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mumphrey: That Outside The Beltway chump.
    Meh.

  50. 50
    catclub says:

    @Mike G:
    ‘A hereditary member of the ruling aristocracy.’

    This is also the primary difference between how Palin and Bush are treated by the powers that be.

  51. 51
    Chris says:

    Gerson thinks his side is:

    “less likely to wish its opponents would die.”

    Which is funny, because it’s his side that endorses policy outcomes that lead to greater numbers of dead people as a direct fucking result.

    Which, I suppose I should clarify, is not “ha-ha funny,” but “You stupid motherfucker, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, and the people you despise for the reasons you claim deserve it less on either count than you and your own goddamn heroes” funny.

    But Gerson worked for George W. Bush, so not only is he a veritable authority on maximizing morality and moral outcomes in society, but he also gets to crow about how fucking superior he and his friends are, in the Washington Post.

  52. 52
    barkleyg says:

    @Mike G:
    ‘A hereditary member of the ruling aristocracy.’

    Is that the “aristocracy” that George W(WORST AMERICAN EVERRR) Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a member of?

    Quoting WIKIPEDIA: “Bush was one of seven directors of the Union Banking Corporation, an investment bank controlled by the Thyssen family,<strong which was seized in October 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act as being owned by "enemy aliens." The assets were held by the government for the duration of the war, then returned afterward.

    So, what do the Catholic Church and Prescott Bush have in common? NAZI BANKERS during WWII

  53. 53
    barkleyg says:

    barkleyg@52

    “Quoting WIKIPEDIA: “Bush was one of seven directors of the Union Banking Corporation, an investment bank controlled by the Thyssen family,The assets were held by the government for the duration of the war, then returned afterward.”

    This paragraph should have read:Bush was one of seven directors of the Union Banking Corporation, an investment bank controlled by the Thyssen family, which was seized in October 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act as being owned by “enemy aliens.” The assets were held by the government for the duration of the war, then returned afterward.

  54. 54

    @Jay S: Have you ever read Drudge, Erick son of Erick, et. al? What Weigel said is tame compared to what they’ve said. So, why don’t they get ignored? Because they are Republicans. So, your statement is only half-true–only one side has to be on its best behavior, and even then, it’s not taken seriously. The other side gets to say whatever they want, however they want, and they suffer no repercussions for it.

    @Wile E. Quixote: Or what you said.

    And, to quote Jon Stewart, I say to Gerson, go fuck yourself.

  55. 55
    drkrick says:

    I’ll be ready to take Gerson’s argument seriously when people like Lee Atwater protege Karl Rove and Saxby “my triple amputee war wounded veteran opponent is an unpatriotic terrorist lover” Chambliss get frozen out the way Weigel was for calling an asshole an asshole. I don’t expect to ever have to take it seriously.

    The person upthread who described this as tribal is exactly right. The problem is that tribes weren’t trying to operate the complex and dangerous systems these primates are trying to run.

  56. 56
    John Bird says:

    That’s how informed commentary works, folks. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrong, or right, or whether you participated in the drive to war by parroting deceptive government propaganda for years at a time. What matters is if you’re a grown-up, that is, whether you’re genteel enough to know the right people within the media, and participate in the right established forms of media, and not say bad things about either of them.

    Eventually, you see, this system will arrive at a lust for truth over back-slapping, as trust and good feelings build warmly between each individual print “journalist”, forcing them to unite in common cause to do the jobs they were paid truckloads of cash to do in the first place. It’s much the same as how reporters have drunken slumber parties at politician’s houses, because how else would they gain the access needed to eventually – when the time is right! – ask those hard-hitting questions about Iraq, or perhaps propose marriage to the politician’s daughter.

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