Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Just Kidding
Jeff Greenfield is getting prickly about being called out for his piece on Obama's clothes. His argument is that it was all a joke, all in good fun and that bloggers have "hair triggers" when it comes to being politically correct.

First of all Jeff, nobody said it wasn't a joke. I know it was a joke. The problem is that they never seem to "joke" about conservatives. And when they do, the joke is all to obviously entering the area of jokedom.

On the other hand, conservatives have become so ridculously nutbar that Greefields "joke" is not far enough outside the conservatives talking points as to be obviously funny. And like it or not, people like Greenfield and CNN have played a part in giving these nutbars a big stage such that it's hard to tell the difference between those who joke and those who are serious.

Update: Digby on Greefield:
What I criticized was the sub-text of such remarks and how these remarks are common right wing tools used to slander, demean and trivialize their opponents. The fact that Jeanne Moos [CNN] also did a "funny" riff that day on Obama's middle name "Hussein" (that was far more revealing of people's bigotry than anything else) what you saw was this subtle theme emerging that implies both that Obama is superficial on the one hand (look at his GQ clothes!) and also somewhat exotic and foreign --- not to be trusted. Enough "jokes" like this and over time people will develop an uncomfortable feeling about Obama's "style" and his exotic name without even knowing that they have it or where it came from. That's how these subtle themes work.


Is it a sin, in and of itself, that Greenfield trivialized Barack Obama for his wardrobe and compared him to a holocaust denying psychopath? Not really. Is it a major goof for Jeanne Moos to simultaneously go out on the street and ask people if they think his "weird" middle name means that he can't be elected? Probably not.

But you'll have to excuse us hotheads for reacting strongly when we see these things because the last time the media decided to have "fun" and tell "jokes," this way, enough people believed them that it ended up changing the world in the most dramatic and violent way possible. We are in this mess today at least partly because these people failed to do their duty and approached their jobs as if it were a seventh grade slumber party instead of the serious business of the most powerful nation on earth.

I don't know what is wrong with them and their social construct that makes them so susceptible to this, or why they fail to see how this bias toward phony Republican machismo distorts political reporting, but it's a big problem for this country. Whatever their psychological or political motivations, we cannot take the chance that these narratives will go unchallenged again. Bad things happen. Wars. Torture. Dead people.