The politics of whining.

I’ve often heard it said that it is our ability to communicate through spoken language that proves our superiority to the rest of the animal kingdom.

When I read stuff like this I have to doubt that.

For the click-challenged, I shall summarize. Barack Obama, known far and wide to be both articulate and black, apologised for saying this:

“We now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.”

Now he’s apologising for offending the soldiers and their families. And I think that’s just plain fucking stupid.

I think it’s stupid because he doesn’t owe them an apology. He doesn’t owe them an apology because he didn’t say anything against them. He says he “misspoke”, but that’s just pandering to a bunch of whining pussies that needed someone to feel sorry for them for the first time since last week. I know that’s a harsh assessment, but just look at the sentence in quotes above.

It is obvious to anyone who can read at a fifth grade level that he is not criticising the soldiers. It is painfully obvious that he is not saying that the soldiers themselves wasted their lives by joining the military. He called them “the bravest young Americans”, for crying out loud. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can tell that he’s talking about an administration that has squandered our money and our people’s lives on a useless, senseless war. You don’t even need the context for that. But just like last week, we have a society that lives to be apologised and pandered to, and any fucking excuse to be a victim of offense that someone can cook up has to be treated as if it is real just because someone went to the trouble of whining like a little lost puppy about it.

This reminds me of a similar situation with John Kerry, but is different in one key way. Kerry said something, in a foiled attempt to make a joke, that could be misconstrued. No one with any reasonable mastery of English could mistake what Barack Obama said unless they WANTED to. Why would they want to? To smear an increasingly popular candidate, mayhap? There is no obligation to pretend that the war is worthwhile just because people have died in it. Everyone wants these lives to be lost in a good cause, but that just isn’t the reality of the situation. We can best honor those lives lost by refusing to throw more lives away, not by pretending that this was all a good idea in the first place.

Well, I haven’t seen it shouted from the mountaintops, so perhaps a lot of people are seeing it for what it is and letting it drift away. Obama has lost a little presidential coin, though, at least with me. I don’t like the fact that he apologised.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want another President like Bush who is so arrogantly stubborn that he cannot even conceive of the notion that he might have done something wrong, despite the long string of failures that define his professional life. We’ve had enough of that for this century already.

I also don’t want a President that is so milquetoast that he backs down the first time someone says “Boo!” in his direction. He didn’t do anything wrong, and I’d have liked him to stand up for himself. If he had just said “I didn’t mean that, I meant this, and I thought I made it pretty clear. Which part befuddled you all?” I would have gained respect for him.

Now he’s just another panderer. And panderers don’t do much of value in the office he wants to fill.

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18 Comments

  1. With you 100%.

  2. Disagree about “wasted.” He should have found another way to say it. A candidate for POTUS should know better than that. I have zero tolerance for inept political speakers now. This is the ONE THING they should get 100% fucking right. As far as the apology? Totally meaningless, like the rest of ’em. Agree there.

  3. Why do you say that, Paula? I do believe that every soldier’s and civilian’s death in Iraq has been a waste. It hasn’t been a gain for anyone here except the Haliburton execs, we aren’t any safer than we were, and Iraq is just a bigger graveyard than it ever was. What word do you think describes it better than “waste”?

  4. A political candidate just can’t say it, as it’s too hurtful to the families–and too demoralizing to the troops still out there. Obama should have known that.

  5. I’m afraid I have to disagree. The truth may be unpleasant, but more people need to stare it in the face. If they’re that easy to hurt, I have to wonder why they’re in the military instead of a bakery or somesuch. We can’t keep giving lip service to bad policy just because some people don’t like the way the facts stack up.

    Besides, it wasn’t the military people he was criticizing, it was the administration who squandered their good will. They should be the most incensed at Bush’s policies that got their children killed for lies, not clutching at straws for the hope that this might turn out to mean something.

    Those deaths were meaningful in the sense that these people were willing to give their lives for their country, for something bigger than themselves. They are heroes for that. But that, to me, makes the decision to manufacture intelligence to go to war that much more criminal, as well as the decision to not equip them properly once they were sent there. And, of course, the decision to DO IT AGAIN. Can you tel me what the Bush administration has done for the military and their families that warrants their continued support?

    The military families have a right to gripe- they are, after all, the only ones in America to make a sacrifice for this war. They are picking the wrong gripe, though. They should not, IMO, be insisting that we compliment the Emperor’s new clothes. They should be nailing the naked son of a bitch to the wall. How many of their neighbor’s kids have to die before they can see that?

  6. Those deaths were meaningful in the sense that these people were willing to give their lives for their country, for something bigger than themselves. They are heroes for that. But that, to me, makes the decision to manufacture intelligence to go to war that much more criminal, as well as the decision to not equip them properly once they were sent there. And, of course, the decision to DO IT AGAIN. Can you tel me what the Bush administration has done for the military and their families that warrants their continued support?

    Now THAT is what he should have said!!

  7. Well, some people have a way with words, and others……. ummm……….

  8. I heard the comment and didn’t think twice. Then all the brouhaha. So I found it and read it again. Oh, okay, I see…I guess…but not really. Then again, I don’t have any family serving in Iraq. I can see how those who do would rightfully be hypersensitive to any comment on the war, and would take it personally.

    But it’s being taken of context and turned into a sound bite, and I hope the military families see that. It’s clear if you listen to the entire speech that he was criticizing the administration and NOT the soldiers, whom he calls brave and heroic.

    That said, I was pleased to see him respond to the critics who blasted him on the word choice, because he did it so quickly and in such a classy manner (so “un-politician-like”). But now he’s apologized too many times, and even while he keeps saying this is an example of the trivialization in politics (“it’s all about who makes a gaffe”). He’s right, so it makes me want to scream, “Just stop taking the media bait then and get back on the issues!”

    I would like to know how those serving in Iraq took the speech.

  9. I don’t know anything about the whole Obama thing except that he does seem increasingly popular so this sounds like a desperate reach for a stick to hit him with. Branding someone unpatriotic seems big business there.

  10. Agree Joe. What’s with everyone having to apologise all the time anyway…

  11. Paula wrote: “A political candidate just can’t say it, as it’s too hurtful to the families–and too demoralizing to the troops still out there.

    What about if a columnist says it?

    I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq.

    But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you’re not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you’re willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it’s Vietnam.

    An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying.

  12. I completely agree with the author and find it very interesting that Paula wrote “I have zero tolerance for inept political speakers now “. I think after 6 years of Bush … everyone in the world feels that way ! Or at least I hope thats how she felt. This guys is the greatest thing for America, for foreign policy and for American Security. I only hope that Americans can look past this obvious attempt to belittle him and make the right choice in 08.

  13. I’m totally not surprised by this at all. Wait, don’t all politicians pander? Isn’t it expected? It’s the only way to get votes, don’t ya know!

  14. O’Tim: totally fine if a columnist says it.
    Kaz: Yep, Dubya’s continual stupid gaffes have convinced me that we should be really careful not to elect another inept speaker. If a candidate can’t speak perfectly during a campaign, when presumably he or she is constantly practicing, thinking about words and have hired peeps to help, then fuck ’em!

  15. Paula wrote: O’Tim: totally fine if a columnist says it.

    The columnist was Joel Stein, BTW.

  16. He said what he should have said — their lives have been wasted. It is an unjust war that was started under false pretenses and the troops were taken into that war by being led to believe they were defending their country, which is why they chose to serve in the first place. And you’re right, Obama wasn’t insulting them or their military service, he was saying it’s a tragedy that they had to die for this particular cause. As for him apologizing, I wish he hadn’t too, but I think no matter what he had said to try and clarify, the pummeling and word twisting would have continued to get worse. I believe he chose the only route he felt he could take under the circumstances … which is why I have no idea why anyone ever goes into politics.

  17. “The columnist was Joel Stein, BTW.”

    He’s still not funny. 🙂

  18. awww, give him another chance, Joe. 🙂


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