Stumax 2

Digital Boogaloo

I drafted a post a while ago on this topic, but I’ve never quite finished it. I think the impulse behind it is good, so I submit the idea for your consideration:

Bush has been fond of talking about the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” (You know, in a bad way; he’s against it.) But of course, he takes every opportunity to shed criticism or be held to any standard of accountability.

It’s too late now, alas, but at some point during the debates I wish John Kerry had kind of explicitly called Bush out on this. Like, “I know that you were handed a recession and then 9/11 happened so you lost a million jobs on your watch, but I expect my Presidents to overcome such difficulties and implement effective plans to meet these unexpected challenges. To accept that you shouldn’t have handled the economy any differently would be to engage in the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Or, “You told us that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which there weren’t. You told us that Osama bin Ladena and Sadaam Hussein were in cahoots; they weren’t. You told us that this war would cost $30 billion; it is projected to cost upwards of $200 billion. You told us that Osama bin Laden can run but he can’t hide, yet he is still on the loose. To accept that we shouldn’t have to trust the word of our President would be to engage in the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

You get the idea. I wish Kerry had used that line. I wish he’d reminded us more explicitly that we hold our Presidents to a higher standard. That’s all.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Blame Me for Not Doing More to Fight the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

  1. Graham says:

    I take your point that it would be nice if the master of low expectations (and constant deliverer of worse than expected) could be nailed for it.

    However I submit that almost all debates are fairly useless things. They are won by the person with the best debating skills; truth and commonsense are usually very early casualties. A great deal of ‘discussion’ in this world is designed to apply spin to achieve an objective, not to know. What follows from this is that any nailing attempt will very likely be lost in a spin vortex.

    Personally I find it a bit sad that a great country must make a huge decision armed only with bucketloads of spin. If we opt out of the spin race and try to get just a few facts floating to the surface of this vortex then we contribute more – maybe even enough to make a difference.

  2. Stumax says:

    Graham, you’re too right, of course. Snark doesn’t work too well in most political discourse, debates included; it tends to backfire. Still, one can fantasize…

    You also touch on another pet peeve of mine… post-debate spin. As in, why in the name of all that is holy do the news networks send their correspondents into “Spin Alley” after the debate? What news or enlightenment is going to come out of a place called “Spin Alley?” This is lazy journalism at its worst.

    In fact, can we not hear politicians analyzing other politicians at all on the news? Aren’t there plenty of professors or scientists or — perish the thought — real people with some insight?

    Oh, there I go… fantasizing again. I’ve really gotta stop that!

  3. Graham says:

    > pet peeve of mine… post-debate spin.

    I like occasionally watching Fox News for the frisson of absolute disgust I get, watching them send their rotweiler ‘analysts’ into battle, drool and lies foaming indiscriminately from their mouths…

    I tend to think that useful analysis only comes from places like rhetorica.net. Careful dissection to separate rationality from what might be spin, then let the reader decide after being informed.

    Congressional committee hearings often seem to be dispassionate political bodies – I must confess I am a foreigner, and I don’t actually watch much of congress at all, so I don’t know, but it seems that way, witness the 9/11 commission report, which I understand is highly regarded. Maybe require policitians to make a short statement stating their beliefs and goals at the beginning of a campaign and then be banned from speaking publicly except in response to congressional hearing questions.

    Probably a fantasy too :-)

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