Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hissy Fits

We all remember the time that Move-On ran an ad directed at General David Petraeus asking him to not "betray us" when he testified to Congress about the surge in Iraq. The GOP disingenuously interpreted that as an accusation of the General as being a potential traitor to the country. Oh, the hue and cry that went up, and the Democrats in Congress who were trying to stop war funding disavowed and condemned the antiwar group as being beyond the limits of decent Americans.

Some commentators, especially Digby at Hullabaloo, called the GOP response a "hissy fit." Manufacturing outrage at deliberately misinterpreted comments to change the subject of debate.

I think that what I call the Candidates Covenant for a Kum-ba-Ya Campaign provided the cover and context for a whole bunch of hissy fits, from the Morales campaign. People will want examples, and frankly, it is too tiresome to get down into the weeds of the particularities (which is the point of the tactic -- to bog debate down into these kind of detailed reconstructions of the precise wording of this or that statement.), so I will just ask you to recognize the tactic when you see it.


3 comments:

Chalicechick said...

Do hissy fits happen?

Sure.

At the same time, I can see how "Don't Betray Us" would have a far nastier and more extreme sound to a military man than it might to the very civilian MoveOn and I think some of the criticisms of that ad were quite justified.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

I tend to agree with CC here Tom. I actually remember that particular MoveOn ad and the controversy surrounding it. The ad bordered on "name-calling" in that it made the rather questionable, and I believe quite insulting, wordplay on General Petraeus' family name -

GENERAL PETRAEUS OR GENERAL BETRAY US?

I am not convinced that the GOP was all that disingenuous in interpreting the ad as suggesting that General Petraeus as being a potential traitor to the country. Or that the GOP was guilty of manufacturing outrage at deliberately misinterpreted comments. In fact the ad copy strongly suggests that General Petraeus *is* betraying "us" whoever "us" is, presumably the people of the U.S.A. There's little room for any "misinterpretation" there, deliberate or otherwise.

I expect that plenty of U*Us would have a severe "hissy fit" if someone ran an attack ad in the Boston Globe asking -

PRESIDENT SINKFORD OR PRESIDENT STINK FRAUD?

or

PRESIDENT PETER MORALES OR PRESIDENT DETER MORALS?

There is no question that such "in your face" attack ads would be considered to be highly questionable insulting and possibly even defamatory personal attacks on either or both UUA Presidents.

That being said, I do of course recognize the tactic that you speak of here, I just don't see that the questionable Petraeus ad serves as an example of that tactic. I am not convinced that much of the recent outrage expressed in the post-election U*U World is all that "manufactured" and/or "disingenuous" and/or resulting from deliberate misinterpretation of comments. There may indeed be some misinterpretation of certain questionable statements made by some people but I expect that most such misinterpretations and misunderstandings may be arrived at honestly. For example I doubt that those U*Us who interpreted UUA Trustee Rev. Will Saunders' assertion that "The president's vision is irrelevant unless it is also the board's vision," as suggesting that President Morales should "sit down and shut up" deliberately misinterpreted it, if they misinterpreted it at all. . . In light of the foregoing perhaps you should provide a few examples of specific statements that you believe have been "deliberately misinterpreted" by Morales supporters in a disingenuous manner in order to "manufacture outrage" and "change the subject of debate."

Chalicechick said...

But getting back to your point, I do agree that the candidates covenant left things confusing, particularly since a campaign can have no control over its supporters and every hissy fit I saw was because of actions of supporters who had nothing to do with a covenant and might not have known about it.

CC