A writer at Daily Dish replies:
Here’s a short clip that includes the Willie Horton and Revolving Door ads. Its critics object that it subtly played on the racism and racial anxiety of Americans – its tone isn’t self-righteous or bile-filled, however contemptible it is.[……]
I did not claim that lies don’t work in political advertising, or that it is always ineffective to play on the fears and prejudices of voters. What I said is that angry, self-righteous bile spewing isn’t effective – that is why you don’t see politicians engage in it very often.
Whether he admits it or not, part of this unnamed Daily Dish writer’s argument is that yelling is immoral and therefore ineffective; subtly playing on racist fears is more moral and thus more effective. It’s not surprising to hear this on a blog founded by a guy who once called political opponents “fifth columnists” and now hands out Moore, Hewitt, and Malkin booby prizes to bloggers who use too much rough language.
Now, as I said earlier, I don’t dispute that this politics business requires a certain amount of finesse, that politicians will often leave the over-the-top stuff to surrogates. They certainly don’t take steps to get too far away from the vitriol, though: I don’t need to remind you how many Republican candidates are on Fox News (they don’t get tough with anybody, their network-mates do). And more than a few candidates for important positions spewed plenty of bile in ads that ran under their own names in the last election cycle. I suppose one could argue that the ambient vitriol is named at the evil “base”, not at the thoughtful, centrist people whose minds are still open to argument.
A lot of politics is aimed at the base and when I tried to think of large-scale, truly mind-changing political movements in recent American history, the first that came to mind was the migration of southern whites from the Democratic party to the Republican party. This wasn’t accomplished over mint juleps with Johnny Mercer tinkeling in the background. George Wallace:
You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.
Who knows, though, maybe Wallace talked “about niggers” in a very polite voice.
Update. Also too, I wonder if critics of this ad from Diaper Dan Vitter object that it subtly played on the racism.
You’ve got to take a look at “The Race Card” by Tali Mendelberg, which is just on this topic — how American politicians went from overtly racist appeals to subtle ones and how effective they still can be.
Forget it, Johnny; it’s Polynesiantown.
The racial coding thing isn’t really the issue, it’s the elastic as its needed to be concept of “civility” that allows young Connor to excuse Willie Horton tv while castigating DougJ the Unnamed, not for saying “fuck” on the internet, but for suggesting that people saying “fuck” on the internet isn’t really the problem.
A less verbose and circumspect man than Doug might have simply said “get the fuck off your fainting couch, you goddamn pussy”, but apparently such rhetoric is ineffective. Unless is isn’t. Which is usually when the one using the rhetoric was a Republican trying to win an election.
I’m waiting for the wingnut outrage when they find out that a former journalist is the new press secretary for the White House. Liberal media! Liberal media!
Tony Snow? Whozzat? He must have worked for Clinton or something.
Some Balloon Juice Commenter FKA Jim, Foolish Literalist
I wonder what this writer thinks about an unnamed Speaker of the House and a certain media partner of Elliot Spitzer pimping the new Limbaugh/Palin spew
that Democrats are unpatrioticI mean of course that the Left, including an unnamed President, doesn’t believe in American Exceptionalism
Can we add “accomplishments over mint juleps with Johnny Mercer tinkeling in the background” to the rotating banner?
Why do posts keep appearing and disappearing? Are you playing with our minds?
This just underscores the basic immorality of a certain type of conservative. If the style of speech is genteel enough, it doesn’t matter how barbaric and vile the actual substance of it is. True civility has nothing to do with pleasing manners or lack thereof; it has to do with a genuine respect for an opponent’s humanity. This is something you learn from your parents if you’re lucky. I’m sorry the prep school crew at The Atlantic weren’t raised in good, moral homes, but it is never too late to learn these things.
History is full of very bad people who were also excruciatingly polite who stand in contrast with a fair smattering of foul-mouthed saints.
Again, I find myself bitterly humored that this asshat is chiding about how useless venom and bile are just after an election where the GOP basically built their successes on precisely that.
Oh. And Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Careers built on it and parlayed into excessive, unproportional political influence over the whole political structure. What fucking fantasy world is he living in?
I haven’t read a bio of Wallace … I’d like to. That quote makes me wonder if he felt that he’d allowed his life to become something that made him sick to think about.
1. The party who supports and benefits the power structure and the status quo will always call for calm behavior and polite discourse while they’re cutting your funds, stealing your money, and kicking the shit out of you. See, for example: Movement, Civil Rights.
2. Why would anyone want to listen to Johnny Mercer taking a piss?
Since my original comment is in moderation hell, let me restate:
The racial coding thing isn’t really the issue, it’s the elastic as its needed to be concept of “civility” which is the problem. This club coveneiently allows young Connor to excuse Willie Horton tv while castigating DougJ the Unnamed, not for saying “fvck” on the internet, but for suggesting that people saying “fuck” on the internet isn’t really the problem, given the apparently jusfitfiability or at least lack of total unacceptability for Willie Horton ads.
@Jim, Once: He’s a really interesting guy. Wasn’t a dyed in the wool racist, but went back and forth. I didn’t say he was a nice man or to be forgiven, just interesting.
Nice job, A Writer.
It really is rather amazing to claim that, say, the “black hands” ad isn’t self-righteous, full of bile, or angry. Only someone who has painted himself into a rhetorical corner would pretend that just because there isn’t yelling, crumpling a paper with a voiceover of racist grievance-mongering isn’t “angry” in tone.
One possible explanation might be a bug with the rebuilt site, such that “balloon-juice.com” shows a time-delayed version of “www.balloon-juice.com” (sometimes an hour or more delayed, I think). So if you’ve recently visited “www.balloon-juice.com” and then you visit “balloon-juice.com” you might see that the most recent post or posts have disappeared, and the numbers of comments with each post have also shrunk.
@Mnemosyne: If they want to argue that Tony Snow wasn’t a journalist, I couldn’t disagree. But I doubt they’ll take that tack.
A Writer At Balloon-Juice
John and I posted at the exact same time, then decided to space things.
I give you this: http://videogum.com/266712/why-we-need-a-christian-dictator/politics/
@A Writer At Balloon-Juice:
Well, posts disappearing might also account for his belief that posts are disappearing.
@BGinCHI: According to the people he served with in the armed forces, he was known as a fair-minded person; especially for someone from a small Southern town.
But people who knew him in grade school describe him as “insanely ambitious” and “a born politician.”
In a small Northern town, it might have been different.
If it wouldn’t land me in BJ commenter jail, I’d change my commenter name to A Balloon Juice Commenter. Nothing to meta for me to love. So, nice FTW, A Writer.
I like this new front pager, “A Writer at Balloon-Juice .”
He’s like DougJ but without the annoying fanboy attachment to that shitty NE football team.
Some Balloon Juice Commenter FKA arguingwithsignposts
This is too delicious. I believe some writer at the Atlantic also once announced his tremendous respect for Jonah Goldberg as a writer and a thinker. Yes, I’m going to keep bringing it up, because it just shows how inane his mind is.
h/t Jim for the nym change
I’d also like to say that The Dream Academy song “Life in a Northern Town” is pretty excellent.
I changed mine for one comment, just for teh lulz.
ETA: it’s in moderation, though.
Of course, now that you’ve gone and changed your handle, anyone clicking over from a writer at the Atlantic’s post will think that he cited “A writer at Balloon Juice” because that’s what the byline says.
Personally, I thought the entire 2004 Republican National Convention was one big display of angry, self-righteous bile. Seemed to work out ok well for W that year. I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
Excuse me while I don my purple heart bandaid and go pal around with some terrorists.
A Writer At Balloon-Juice
Is that real?
I’m thinking maybe every commenter here could name themselves A Writer, followed by a number or consecutive alphabetic. Balloon Juice is big enough now that it could really drill into the brains of other sites in a way that could be fun to watch.
Enough with The Atlantic obsession. If you have to read The Atlantic, can’t you just read Ta Nehisi Coates or something? And where the heck is Sullivan? Didn’t he just take a vacation recently? Why is CF polluting the blogosphere again?
And in the current circumstances, it’s that they’ve once again convinced the Village to substitute “more civility” for “calls for violence are unacceptable.”
The reason we’re having this discussion again now is that right-wing hatemongers repeatedly promoted and fantasized violence against their political opponents on-air. Since they were losing that argument, they switched to talking about “civility” and pretending that it was exactly the same thing, knowing that the Village would play along and that civility will never happen before the Village loses interest again. The deliberate result is that someone on the right pulls a gun, they can point to someone on the left who cussed or took a well-justified angry “tone” and therefore both sides are equally “uncivil.”
Anyone who thinks “tone” is worth focusing on now is part of the problem, or a sucker who has taken the bait.
@BGinCHI: Ooh, me too. That was the only thing not to like about DougJ, son of DougJ.
@Jim, Once: I’m hoping that was a video of Jesus’s General/Patriotboy but it was probably your average Glenn Beck wannabe judging by the liberal use of air quotes.
Excuse me… correction replete with irony: A Writer at Balloon-Juice (#/letter).
So .. did you watch? It was something. I actually stopped one of the frames and saw it was from a Catholic website.
@BGinCHI: This is true.
@A Writer At Balloon-Juice:
I think so … see my comment to Beltane. Commenters on Wonkette thought it was satire. Speaking as a former Catholic … maybe not.
Precisely. Because if you abstract far enough, spin around 3 ties and close one eye, DougJWriter saying “fuck” and S-Pa distributing google earth screen caps with surveryor’s marks are EXACTLY the same. BOTH SIDES DO IT ZOMG.
And it’s not just limited to the issue of violence. This is s fairly similar dynamic to when Taibbi called Goldmach Sachs “vampire squids” and the CNBC crowd went apeshit about his potty mouth while never really even attempting to contest (and in fact usually agreeing) with the facts he presented against GS. We definitely live in the age of the “ooh, look, SHINY!” defense.
Well, this Daily Dish writer did work with Reihan Salam, Graeme Wood, Megan McArdle, Matt Yglesias, and Ross Douthat, and plus he reads a lot of James Fallows so obviously he knows something about something. Have you worked with Douthat, DougJ? Yeah, I thought not.
@Jim, Once: I watched about 3/4 of it before I had enough. It did seem more Catholic than evangelical with its misplaced emphasis on the common good and its condemnation of supposed selfishness. The evangelicals hate the common good and think that selfishness is the path to salvation.
That will get you a Moore Award nomination for sure.
When TNC went on vacation, he had Michael freaking Chabon as a guest blogger. I can’t believe that Andrew-bragging-about-how-my-blog-has-the-highest-traffic-among-the-Atlantic-bloggers-Sullivan don’t have better contacts than TNC that he had to settle for this Connor clown.
@arguingwithsignposts: I tried to become Your Galtian Overlord (or something like that) and it got placed in moderation hell until the joke wasn’t funny anymore. I know your pain. Ah well. I am happy to adopt a number as Jim, Once suggests, however. As long as it’s #6 and I can repeatedly say “I am not a number!”
I’m just amused at an ad for Diaper Dave featuring a big blinking “Enter Here” sign.
@Ija: Chuck Conners would have been better.
A Writer At Balloon-Juice
What was Chabon like as a blogger?
I concur with the gentlewriter from The Atlantic that as long as the words are genteel, the comments themselves are not ugly or self-righteous or bile-filled. That is why I gently suggest that aforementioned gentlewriter skewer himself slowly on my rust-tinged pitchfork, right up his anal cavity. He cannot take issue with my comment, can he, as my tone is utterly civil.
@A Writer At Balloon-Juice: I did not care for him, but I also do not care for his writing. I thought he was stiff, condescending, and not very thought-provoking.
A Midnight Marauder At Balloon-Juice
And this is central to my point.
@asiangrrlMN: Yiddish Policeman’s Union is an excellent novel.
@asiangrrlMN: Your tone is great, but you might be too explicit. Conor seems to think as long as you’ve got your vicious fear mongering in coded images, that makes it less hateful. It’s a moronic view, but it seems to be what he’s saying. as near as I can tell.
I’m still pissed that between the mentions at the Daily Dish and hit & run, their vast multitude of viewers crashed the servers before I could get a DEA rubber duck, complete with hat and chest badge. I really, really, really wanted a DEA duck. Actually, I wanted 10, as they’d make fab gifts.
How dare the Reich wing slander and swiftboat Willie Horton who was released by Michael Dukakis when it was discovered he was wrongly convicted by Scott Harshbarger before the true culprit Gerald Amirault was discovered Fells Acres Day Care Center preschool case.
I’ve been trying to respond to this (over and over), but it’s breathtaking how many times it’s been distorted/blocked/whatever. Anyway…this quote reminded me of my fundie SIL, who, when I asked about our duty to help the poor, said, “Pf. The poor you always have with you. I will never help the poor.”
@Bella Q: Hm. I fear you might be right. My strong images might give the gentlewriter from The Atlantic the vapors. I would not want to induce pearl-clutching, now would I?
And, DEA rubber ducky? I like.
@A Writer At Balloon-Juice:
He was good. Although his posts seem more like essays than blog posts. I can’t really explain it, but there’s something different about the two. My favorite post was the one about the Huck Finn controversy. But he did cause quite a controversy with his post on Obama’s speech on the shooting in Arizona. There was a bit of that “why are people cheering and hollering like it’s a rally” thing, which, really, Chabon, have you been hanging out at right wing blogs lately or something?
OMG don’t we all wish The Daily Dish had comments. I know I’ve e-mailed Sully a few times when I couldn’t take something or other he had written. To his credit he has answered me back a couple times. But Comments…there is a reason he won’t put ’em in there & it’s because too many people would be calling him out on the bs he puts on from time to time.
@I think it’s the real deal. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. Because of my family, I’m a little more in tune with the loony side of Catholicism. This idiotic site will give you some idea of how loony they are. It’s almost fun to read how ballistic they go whenever the Pope meets with a leader of another faith.
It’s almost fun. It’s mostly just painful.
@A Writer At Balloon-Juice:
So we’re talking Cavalier and Klay Michael Chabon?
Just so it can go on record that the concern has been noted, Young Connor’s main point can isn’t so much the style-versus-substance. No, it’s actually a weaker one than that. It’s nothing more than that KO was doing it wrong being a meanie who made fun of people and gave them condescending nicknames. Because apparently that was his job, winning people over to the progressive side. In a complete vacuum, maybe an argument like this makes sense. But we live in a world with Faux News and Rush Limbaugh and this line of reasoning is preposterous and hypocritical, to say the least.
What Connor is doing is nothing more than concern trolling. We hear it time and again from these Beltway media types, how the DFH’s are so unserious and so mean, and if only they reached across the aisle then maybe they could totally get people to dig their vibe man. Ignoring that Republicans play to win and are out for blood. And for all my issues with the guy, KO was never the analog of Limbaugh and Beck the way prima donnas like CF want to argue.
@Jim, Once: Yes. Him.
Yiddish Policemen’s Union. Loved it. Kavalier and Clay, not. I was required to teach the latter. Managed to beg out of it..
Thank you. BTW- I like you so much more when you are not civil. Please practice metaphors and descriptive language relating to hand tools and genitalia.
@Jim, Once: Agree he’s inconsistent.
I saw the Atlantic writer as suggesting that guile was more effective than bile. In other words, following a Miss Manners style guide can be more effective in promoting any ideology, no matter how vile, than making shrill arguments, no matter how true. Of course he didn’t talk in terms of truth or falsity of the argument, merely their form.
I didn’t see him arguing morality. It seemed to be a thoroughly amoral argument.
Ignoring the morality of the argument and focusing on efficacy, I’m not sure he’s wrong.
“Illegals keep coming and coming and coming.”
Wingnuts just have this obsession with sex with dirty, lank haired, dark men don’t they?
conor needs to read himself some eugene o’neill, for chrissake. the genius in capturing the honey drenched knife in the back. a southern specialty, right up there with the gentility.
did i miss something? didn’t this whole debate actually start because of his astonishingly blinkered perspective on the KO thing? how did he shift it to what politicians say?
oh, right; he was losing the debate.
That weren’t genteel.
A Writer At Balloon-Juice
I think he’s trying to have it both ways, a cynical take on guile versus bile plus some wide-eyed Jack Johnson musings about the awesomeness of civility.
@Tattoosydney: It was! I didn’t raise my tone or curse or tell him to DIAF! What more could he want? How you be, hon?
And there would be s***ring and p*****ity.
ETA: And r**e w***s.
Took a look around at that site… this was fun.
I’m well. A quite day at home editing and playing with the dog. You?
@Tattoosydney: WTF is that? I can’t figure it out. I’m blogging about The Grifter Jr., did some work for my bro, and will do some editing after I finish up the blog post. I just listened to Tom talk. I liked what he had to say about guns and going green.
I should eat lunch.
Oh, shit. This is exactly what I grew up with, and what my sisters still mouth at me. You just can’t TALK like that … I’m just not going to listen to what you say because it’s just painful for your grandmother/grandfather/mother/father, etc., etc. And I want to say, Miss Manners, this country is dying. You don’t want to talk about it … just go in a corner somewhere and explore yourself.
“Swearing”, “Profanity” and “Rude Words”.
TA: In other words, a decent night out.
And you know what else? I love Jack Johnson
And Mary Gauthier, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5MG1ZfFiZ8
@Jim, Once: Oh! Good to know. I couldn’t get through the comic-style book. I thought it tedious.
I like being uncivil, too, but I’m practicing in case I’m ever invited onto MSNBC or something.
@Tattoosydney: Ah. Thanks. You can’t just r*****ly take out letters and expect me to know w*** t** f*** you’re talking about.
Did Johnny Mercer tinkle? Like little crystal chimes? How odd.
“Whether he admits it or not, part of this unnamed Daily Dish writer’s argument is that yelling is immoral and therefore ineffective”
Whether he admits it or not = “I’m going to make uo an argument and attribute it to my opponent.”
You’re an idiot.
A Writer At Balloon-Juice
What is uo?
@A Writer At Balloon-Juice: I’m not familiar with Jack Johnson, but the writer was definitely playing coy. People are often uncivil without “harsh words”, but it still seems to be more socially acceptable than being blunt.
Focusing on the “harsh words” is a bit of misdirection, but it happens to work. Whether by the listeners reaction or by some writer clutching pearls and pointing. You talk about the words and not the underlying idea.
@A Writer At Balloon-Juice:
I suspect ou=up.
The tremendously amusing thing is that Conor works for Andrew Sullivan, a man whose “uncivility” to all female politicians not named Thatcher is legendary. Back in 2008 Sully pulled out every stop he could think of to throw shit at HRC and basically won every single one of his own damn blog awards doing so. He initially poured the same undying hatred of 1000 suns at Palin, but has gradually pulled back and is playing a long game with Palin, probably figuring her supernova of political career will soon fade.
But lefty bloggers use snark and are vile and mean spirited and don’t lovingly link to each other for pageviews and give bad copy to our op-eds pondering the wisdom of expanding American bases into Bunglefvckistan, Asia or questioning the wisdom of giving healthcare to the undeserving. So ignore ’em!
@Jay S: On the other hand, I’m not sure I heard correctly, due to all the bile.
ETA WP ate my angle bracketed “Clutching Pearls” :)
Jesus. They’re moving the goalposts over there.
Conor originally argued that angry ranting was unpersuasive. True as far as it goes, if not all that important an observation.
In the Daily Wrap, though, they paraphrase him as arguing that “vile rhetoric” doesn’t work, which is quite obviously untrue.
Vile rhetoric works a treat, so long as it’s hidden behind a veneer of faux civility.
Conor is approximately the most thin-skinned person that you will ever find on the internet. I called him a hack in a post on my tiny crappy blog (<100 views on a decent day) and he wrote a comment to defend his honor. Naturally enough he was condescending while doing it.
Maybe he Google himself and “hack” on a regular basis.
This spat is interesting to read, because I think it goes to something bigger.
DougJ is saying “people sometimes win dirty”. CF is saying “no, ultimately, they don’t”.
So, I think DougJ read him correctly. His is a moral argument. I too think people sometimes win dirty. I know they do. I know the best man (or better argument) doesn’t always win.
I think it’s really, really important to conservative ideology that they continue to believe the “best man wins”, because if he doesn’t, that rattles and shakes up their whole theory on merit-based success.
I suspect that’s why conservative bloggers have been so incoherent and stupidly stubborn on the connection between violent rhetoric aimed at individuals and violence aimed at those same individuals. Liberals are essentially saying “you won, but you won dirty”. Tea Partiers and those allied with Tea Partiers object to that. They want to think they won on superior ideas, or “merit”.
If the winner isn’t “better”, merit-based success is thrown into question, and they can’t deal with that.
Whether he admits it or not, part of this unnamed Daily Dish writer’s argument is that yelling is immoral and therefore ineffective
High level of argumentation here. If only it were possible to claim that part of someone’s argument is something they didn’t say, mention, or even suggest and remain a respected voice within the blogging community.
@kay: One of the main reasons I get such a bang out of this blog is because analysis like this turns up on it. That’s a fascinating point.
And yet you’d think that libertarians of all people would be able to grapple with the concept of “the best ideas don’t always win” better than most folks. Since they think they have the best ideas and yet they’re usually the first to claim that folks are too stupid to actually try to make their ideas work.
The cognitive dissonance necessary to be a libertarian and yet also claim that ideas always win on the merits just boggles my mind. None of the libertarians I ever ran around with in college would have believed such a thing.
That’s what I saw. I don’t really think Conor is unconditionally right, either. On television commercials that play to the unengaged and low-information person, yes, and there are a lot of those people. When speaking to activists with a lot of emotional skin in the game, open anger works just fine.
Conor’s point is two things – first, that Keith Olbermann’s communication style is ineffective at his own goals, which may or may not be true, depending on where the goalposts are and what you think could have been achieved otherwise; and second, basically, that shouty, openly vicious people are an unpleasant drain on the discourse. It’s the classic argument of libertarians and commies alike that you can make bad behavior go away by socially disapproving of it enough instead of using legal or other coercion.
Nobody really thinks he’s wrong, either. Fox News isn’t infamous just for being wrong a lot or skewed to the right wing, but for using inflammatory language, villification, and shouting matches. Most people hate cable news for the shouting, far more people than actually watch it.
I don’t think Conor has a lot of luck getting people to stop being jerks via civil discourse about it, but, as usual, DougJ is being a dick. This post is actually a classic example of what some here would call MeganMcardle fail. Doug is actually backtracking from his original point, conceeding that Conor is right to some extent, but his attitude remains along the lines of “look, I’m demeaning myself by acknowledging this evil douchebag”. I don’t see it.
It’s not the world’s most important problem, but we’re not obligated to deal with the world’s most important problems all the time. It’s not a bad thing to want people to generally be nicer to each other; it’s not neccessary to constantly shit on people for wanting that, and it is possible to be an advocate for the right team without being a dick. The attitude here on this reminds me of the whole Beltway Church of the Savvy.
I love this place overall, but some people demonstrate a complete inability differentiate between benign meta, navel gazing, or pursuit of a personal attempt to grapple with the problems of being a blogger without being a complete douchebag, and taking a Villager approach to, you know, actual policy issues of the moment. I think Conor generally writes sincerely and fairly, with a tolerable level of stupidity, while DougJ basically reminds me of a blogger from Protein Wisdom with an interminable and boring grudge.
Um, by which I mean that nobody thinks he’s wrong about loud, rude, insulting, obnoxious, and hateful behavior being widely disliked and not enjoyable, all things considered. When it does or does not work to promote your goal is a messy sociological question with a lot of contradictory evidence.
That is utter bullshit.
Saying hateful things is not the same as saying things hatefully;
The horrors of eugenics and what that led to were always couched in polite bland bureaucratic language, yet contained some of the most hateful and evil thoughts imaginable.
There is truth in the notion that wild and hateful invective can weaken an argument; But only in the same way that a wildly thrown punch that misses is a poor boxing strategy.
Ridicule, mockery and even cruel and hurtful language are very effective tools in political struggles- look at political cartoons- they rely almost entirely on caricature and hyperbole.
Conor has to deny that this type of communicating is effective because he has to deny that it exists. Remember, for the above the fray non-ideologue who merely calls em as he sees em, examples of self-righteous bile spewing will be limited to only those things which both sides do.
@liberty60: Ultimately, tone trolls can fuck themselves with a cactus for all we care.