How I learned to stop worrying and love the f-bomb

posted at 4:08 pm on March 9, 2009 by Jeff Goldstein

(Ed. note: Guest post by Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom and Hot Air original video contributor)

Let me begin by noting that this post is not about Rush Limbaugh.

You’re welcome.

Now, just to be clear, Mr Limbaugh will appear in the post — and as a character he will be prominently featured — but this post is no more about Rush than, say, Moby Dick is “about” cetology, or “The Jeffersons” is “about” a string of dry cleaning stores.

I offer that disclaimer because what seems to have gotten lost in the late unpleasantness between those who have supported Mr Limbaugh for his comments, offered in response to a specifc (and leading) prompt about the trajectory of an Obama presidency (with supporters having been called, alternately, “cultists,” “denialists,” “extremists,” or “idealists,” depending on who is doing the describing) and those who have been more critical of Mr Limbaugh for what they argue was either the provocative nature of his formulation or the lack of precision with which it was delivered, is the reason why any of this is at all important to begin with: namely, because where you stand on the issue provides insight into how you think language works — or should work — something that, protestations by a few prominent right wing pundits to the contrary, is not only not trivial or “fundamentally unserious” but is in fact crucial, I’d argue, to any understanding of how and why the conservative movement finds itself out in the political wilderness.

But before I elaborate, allow me to do what so few commentators have done: provide the full context for Rush Limbaugh’s “I hope he fails” soundbite:

I got a request here from a major American print publication. “Dear Rush: For the Obama [Immaculate] Inauguration we are asking a handful of very prominent politicians, statesmen, scholars, businessmen, commentators, and economists to write 400 words on their hope for the Obama presidency. We would love to include you. If you could send us 400 words on your hope for the Obama presidency, we need it by Monday night, that would be ideal.” Now, we’re caught in this trap again. The premise is, what is your “hope.” My hope, and please understand me when I say this. I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, “Well, I hope he succeeds. We’ve got to give him a chance.” Why? They didn’t give Bush a chance in 2000. Before he was inaugurated the search-and-destroy mission had begun. I’m not talking about search-and-destroy, but I’ve been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don’t want them to succeed.

If I wanted Obama to succeed, I’d be happy the Republicans have laid down. And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him. Look, what he’s talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don’t want this to work. So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.” (interruption) What are you laughing at? See, here’s the point. Everybody thinks it’s outrageous to say. Look, even my staff, “Oh, you can’t do that.” Why not? Why is it any different, what’s new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it? I don’t care what the Drive-By story is. I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.

From the context, it is clear what Limbaugh is on about, specifically, Obama’s “plans [...] “as he stated them,” and his desire to see those plans fail.

That Rush made the statement on January 16th, in advance of any of these plans going into effect, makes hypothetical questions (and unscientific polls dedicated to interpreting them) about whether or not Mr Limbaugh wants to see the economy tank and America disintegrate into socialist hell if indeed those plans go into effect moot; Limbaugh speaks on air fifteen hours a week and would almost certainly have something specific to say about what he hopes to happen going forward. Which is why the trick by those in the media — and the cause of the failing of those on the right who have been critical of Rush’s supposed ambiguity — is the idea that Limbaugh’s initial statement is somehow frozen in time, like some verbal mosquito caught in amber. But in truth, his statement is not some fixed artifact incapable of clarification or amplification as new realities arise — and in fact Limbaugh has been at pains to reiterate exactly what he meant on a number of occasions now.

So why worry about those four words — and not address the context in which they were uttered and framed?

One answer we’re hearing from many political pragmatists and conservative realists is that those four words are what most people will hear, given that the media has seized on that formulation and built around it a narrative — at various times both implied and explicit — that Rush Limbaugh wants to see the President fail regardless of what Obama does while in office. ABC News, in fact, cut together a video in which they juxtaposed Rush uttering the words — again, removed from their context — with additional video clips that added a racial dimension to Limbaugh’s statement, a dimension since seized upon by “conservatives” like David Frum but which appear nowhere in Limbaugh’s statements.

The argument by these political realists or “pragmatists” goes something like this: people don’t bother to explore the news past soundbites and headlines, so all they are likely to take away from the media’s reporting on Limbaugh’s statement is that, as George Stephanopoulos among others have framed it, Rush “hopes the President fails,” the suggestion being that Limbaugh is hoping the country fails. And such a statement, in addition to being needlessly provocative, the realists tell us, also suffers from being less clear than it may otherwise have been.

Leaving aside for the moment the impossibly high standard that comes with demanding that a man who speaks mostly extemporaneously for fifteen hours a week need be so careful with his phrasings that they cannot be removed from their context and made to mean what they clearly weren’t intended to mean, except by great effort on the part of those whose aim it is to misrepresent intent, the subtext of such an argument is twofold: 1) by being more judicious with our words, we are providing those who are out to misrepresent us with a smaller target; and 2) that something less provocative will not alienate us with those we are hoping to win over to conservatism by appearing to them ugly or hostile — that as a strategy, being more solicitous about how we phrase things will help make conservatism more appealing, or at least, less revolting to those who remain undecided about their political allegiances.

And in fact, this is precisely the argument Patterico makes in his column here yesterday when he writes:

Some say: conservatives can’t worry about how they say things. They know their arguments will be distorted anyway, so they shouldn’t worry about being misinterpreted. I completely disagree with this argument. I say: when you know people will distort your meaning, you have to be extra careful to express yourself clearly.

Naturally, if what you are after is clarity, there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself in terms that make it difficult to take you out of context. And if we think back, we can remember that Bill Bennett tried that exact thing several years ago, only to have his statement shortened in such a way that the disclaimers he took pains to add were simply excised.

At the time — just as with Limbaugh — several conservative realists chided Bennett, not for being racist (the charge most frequently leveled at him), but rather for being impolitic.

Here’s what I wrote at the time, which applies equally to the Limbaugh dustup:

First, [certain conservatives are making the claim] that it is standard business and political doctrine that communicators be aware of how they are likely to be interpreted, which conflates the idea of practice with rectitude. And the fact is, being aware of how your utterances may be interpreted by those who are looking to maliciously misrepresent them in a soundbite culture is a fool’s errand—one that is shown up by the very issue at hand: Bennett was careful to note that the hypothetical in question was morally reprehensible—and in fact used it to argue against utilitarian rationalizations for moral problems (a stand that implicitly rejects statistics-based racialist arguments)—but that important qualification was left out of many media representations of his quote, which allowed those who wished to embarrass Bennett to call him out. In this case, Bennett clearly was aware of how his words might be used, but that awareness could not prevent misuse. For Bennett to have avoided the “major failing” [some conservatives identified] he would have had to avoid the subject altogether. And to do so is to trade intellectualism for the kind of circumspection that has the practical effect of chilling free speech.

Linguistically speaking, we have but two choices: either insist language be ground in the intentions of its utterers, or else conclude that we must each be responsible, in perpetuity, for whatever might be done with our utterance once it leaves our control. [Some conservatives] it seems to me, [are] choosing the latter—an unfortunate choice, in that it will forever codify a use of language that demands of its users the kind of overly-self-conscious self-censorship that is anathema to the free exchange of ideas. And if our goal is to hash out policy or to discuss potentially controversial issues, we simply must be able to do so without worry that parties invested in maintaining the status quo are allowed to silence us by assuming control over the terms of debate.

[The political pragmatists'] thesis here is straightforward—and it matches the theses of many of those (including the White House and the Corner’s Ramesh Ponnuru) who’ve taken Bennett to task for his “impolitic” remarks. Bennett, the argument goes, is a seasoned political operative and a professional communicator, and so he should have known that certain people—from the perpetually aggrieved to those in whose interests it is to try to smear what they take it he represents—would use his remarks against him. Which is certainly true.

But why must an awareness of such dictate a surrender to it?

Descriptions about how communication can be made to function are no substitute for the insistence that it be made to function as it should—in a linguistically coherent way that is dependent on appeals to the utterer’s intent, and so therefore refuses to give equal weight to the whims and motivations of interpreters who wish to use their interpretations as a rhetorical cudgel (in this case, quite disingenously) against the utterer. Each time a conservative makes such excuses for linguistic surrender in the guise of world weary linguistic pragmatism (which it is not; it is a feint toward relativism and certain pernicious post-modern ideas of language that undercut its moorings), they cede a bit more control over future debates to their opponents.

I refuse to do so. And while I can understand why many on the left wish me to be cowed by their linguistic presumptuousness, what I can’t understand is why so many on the right allow them to get away with it.

All of which brings us back to those conservative political realists and pragmatists now criticizing Rush over his impolitic (or unclear) remarks: their desire for Limbaugh to be more careful with his phrasings as a way to avoid being misrepresented in a soundbite culture is, frankly, a fool’s game — and, even more frankly, it is indicative of a political strategy that amounts to conceding loss, with the concomitant hope that perhaps we’ll lose more slowly.

– Which is not to say this is a conscious part of the strategy of the realists, just that it is the inevitable effect of backing such a strategy. Because even were Republicans to begin winning elections based on their newly found ability to negotiate a hostile media bent on misrepresenting them, they’d be compelled to maintain the practice of carefully parsing their words, which means they’d always be at the mercy of those looking to attack and discredit. And such has the effect both of chilling speech and of determining in what way a message must necessarily be delivered.

And when your opponents are making the rules, you are necessarily playing their game.

To put it more forcefully, it is a fact of language that once you surrender the grounds for meaning to those who would presume to determine your meaning for you, you are at their mercy. Nowhere is this more clear than with Britain’s new definition of racism, whereby racism is determined not by the actions of those purported to cause it, but rather by the feelings of the person who claims to be its victim. Frighteningly, such is a formulation Ms. Obama seems to share. And this is not a road we should be heading down, because at the end of that road lies meaning as determined by “interpretive communities,” which in political terms equates to particular interest groups. And that way lies totalitarianism and, to borrow from both G.B. Shaw and Jonah Goldberg, “liberal fascism.”

Patterico, in response to the linguistic aspect of my arguments, has offered his own idea about how interpretation should work, namely, that “words should be interpreted the way a reasonable person would interpret them.” But what Patterico doesn’t seem to understand is that a “reasonable” person might “reasonably” interpret, for instance, Curious George in a “reasonable” way, arriving at the conclusion that what we have is a post-colonial text: the man in the big yellow hat captures the native, brings him home and hopes to civilize him, at which point the reluctant captive’s essential Otherness rubs against the conventions of the culture into which he was forcibly assimilated. And mayhem ensues.

Or perhaps the story is homoerotic, with the cute, furry monkey spending time in the pajamas of the man in the big yellow (conical) hat, who by all appearances is a bachelor and someone who likes to spend a lot of time in a long overcoat.

Reasonable, certainly. And in fact, this is what literary critics do all the time. But what we need to do is ask ourselves, if what we are claiming to do is “interpret,” what is it that we think the author(s) were trying to say? What did they mean?

And it is at that point most of us recognize that what they meant to do was write a children’s story about the exploits of a curious monkey.

To say that “words should be interpreted the way a reasonable person would interpret them” is to open texts up to whatever people can reasonably do with an authors marks, which, while this can prove enjoyable and even useful or enlightening in some way, has the dangerous effect of conflating the intentions of those doing the decoding with the intentions of those who did the original encoding. And if what we are trying to do is communicate — to understand a message as it proceeds along the interpretive chain — it is imperative that we work to uncover the meaning as it was designed to be received.

But back to politics: if, as I’ve argued, political realism as a strategy is doomed — not because we can’t be more careful with our words, but rather because it is not always rhetorically effective to do so, nor does such care prevent us from being misrepresented, no matter how precise we try to be — what is the alternative? As many pundits will patiently explain to you, ideological purity and idealism doesn’t win elections, so if not pragmatism, what?

To which I reply, pragmatism is fine. But why not use our idealism pragmatically — which is to say, why not make it our strategy to use idealism as our cudgel against the media and the left in such a way that their tactic of misrepresentation and outrage no longer pays dividends? Why not make it our strategy to destroy their tactics — and in so doing, reaffirm the very principles at the heart of classical liberalism?

The fact of the matter is, for all of Limbaugh’s provocation, his statement, having been carefully and purposely misrepresented by the media as a way to demonize him and drive a divide between conservatives and more moderates within the party, has had the rather happy effect of getting us talking and arguing about what we as a movement should do next. And it was precisely his choice of language that baited the press and the left (and, more frightening even, the White House) to engage him, and to force the ideas of conservatism center stage.

That we are having this debate about how to proceed as a movement is a step in the right direction, I think — and it is a debate I don’t think we’d be having were it not for Rush’s choice of language. And so arguments that more clarity and less provocation are the proper way for conservatives to communicate in the current media culture must be tempered by the realization that sometimes the best defense is a good offense — and that what Rush has done is perhaps fire us up and get us angry enough finally to push back against a dishonest media. And a vital tool for doing so is language — more specifically, by refusing to spend any more time on the defensive, withering prey to a tactic the left has used so successfully to provide the very parameters for acceptable conservative speech.

Now, if only we can convince our elected officials to follow suit, we might be on to something.

Rush Limbaugh speaks for Rush Limbaugh. Which is why the next reporter who asks a prominent Republican figure whether or not he or she agrees with Limbaugh’s “hope” that “the President fails” should be met with a firm reminder that the reporter has left out an important part of the context, one that effectively alters the suggestiveness of the question, and that aside from such fundamental dishonesty, Rush Limbaugh is not the head of the party, nor is he an elected leader, so why on earth would I presume to answer for something he said?

If we are worried about “undecided voters” who get nothing but soundbite news, we must work to change the culture of how news is delivered. For my part, I don’t want to have to measure every word I say with the thought in mind that somebody is going to take me out of context. Instead, I’d like to be free to say what I mean, and when my meaning is obvious, I would like to know that honest people have my back — and will tell dishonest people to stop being dishonest, and uninformed people that they need to smarten up before they presume to join the conversation.

Oh. And OUTLAW!


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Because I think capitalism gives the most people the best chance to be happy, me included.

petunia on March 9, 2009 at 4:59 PM

And wealthy. I wish I had the source handy but the average poor person in the USA has an approximation of an apartment or house to live in, two TVs, a car and an income (and a cell phone camera, I guess). Compared to the typical third world poor person, they live like kings.

What provides that relatively high standard of living for our poor? Capitalism.

Poverty is the default condition of humanity. Capitalism is the best proven system to alleviate that condition.

Greg Toombs on March 9, 2009 at 5:09 PM

That fella sure knows allot of big words…

repvoter on March 9, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Let’s be clear here. The left made it practically a policy that they wanted Bush to fail throughout his terms. Based on the election results of 2006 and 2008, they feel it was a successful strategy, and want to preclude it as a GOP strategy. As a backstop, they will use this as a deflection in the very likely event that the policies being enacted will not enable a recovery. This way, they can try and prevent republicans from using their old strategy, and blame republicans if they fail. It is a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ proposition. I say, call for failure proudly.

Vashta.Nerada on March 9, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Yours is a perfect example of the post. I clearly state what I mean, and you act as if it’s unclear, or has multiple meanings.

You’re the enemy of clear thought Jim. Clear enough?

JiangxiDad on March 9, 2009 at 5:04 PM

I haven’t acted as if it’s unclear. It’s perfectly clear clear. You stated that any discussion at this point is a waste of time. The valuable contribution of “That was long. In any case, Obama sucks. I hope he fails.” in response to an excellent, well reasoned post which adds a valuable new take on the discussion *clearly* showed that so you didn’t even need to explicitly stated it later in the thread.

Jim on March 9, 2009 at 5:12 PM

Jeff is presenting a very imporant point. Do not left the left, Democrats, the MSM, David Frum, Kathleen Parker or David Brooks define what we are and are not.

Not everyone has to agree with Rush Limbaugh or mimic his style, but we all have a duty to call BS on those misrepresenting what he said. Rush was right on this issuen and that got lost in the dispute.

Mr. Joe on March 9, 2009 at 5:12 PM

That was long. In any case, Obama sucks. I hope he fails.

JiangxiDad on March 9, 2009 at 4:12 PM

CORRECT.
Obama and his liberal welfare tax and spend policies,along with his Carteresque forign policy of being a wimp NEED to fail,to protect what is left of the United States of America, and the Constitution that he was SWORN to uphold, not change to his whim.

UNREPENTANT CONSERVATIVE CAPITOLIST on March 9, 2009 at 5:12 PM

And when your opponents are making the rules, you are necessarily playing their game.

To put it more forcefully, it is a fact of language that once you surrender the grounds for meaning to those who would presume to determine your meaning for you, you are at their mercy.

Here, here, Jeff. Spot-on. Spot-f***ing-on. I have been getting sick and tired of the passive crap from Ace, Gabriel Malor and AllahPundit and this was an absolutely brilliant piece. Let’s hope these passive “pragmatists” get their heads out of their asses and understand this simple point that we have to stop playing the game by the rules of our enemies. Because in case these geniuses haven’t been paying attention, as soon as we prostrate ourselves and figure out the rules, the enemy changes the rules and f***s us all over again, even worse.

It’s well past time to stop this passive, victim sh*t and go on the offense against these lying, corrupt bastards and not apologize for anything.

Michael in MI on March 9, 2009 at 5:13 PM

Hear, hear! Yes, it is submission they are after, and they’ll take it first by our language, because our freedoms will surely follow. Who among us hasn’t said something in a social/political debate only to be met with “That sounds racist”? The intent, of course, is to silence. (Incidentally, I typically reply to such queries with a full-on, full-throated, profanity-laced fit of righteous indignation that fairly assures the inquisitor will never again take that particular tack when I’ve scored an ideological point — and I’ve always wondered why our Conservative politicians don’t do the same. Throw the table over, man! Stand up! Get pissed! Make ‘em regret it! Make. Them. APOLOGIZE!)

This, though, goes to my biggest gripe of the Conservative movement — an inability to find a narrative and stay on it, ad nauseum, so the prissy leftist reporters will stop asking the stupid questions altogether. If every Conservative and Republican answered every reporter’s questions about Limbaugh in precisely the way Goldstein has suggested here, they would stop asking it. But instead, these cowardly, weak, limp, effeminate girly men bend over backwards to assure the aforementioned snot-nosed reporters that they do, in fact, want the president “to succeed.” They are, in a word, hopeless. The truth is, most of today’s Republican “leaders” have fully adopted the lexicon of the left. They ceded the linguistic ground a long time ago, and they aren’t likely to turn back now for fear that someone will point a fascist finger their way and mutter “That sounds racist…” Oh, the very idea makes them tremble something fierce — and the leftists know it.

Rational Thought on March 9, 2009 at 5:13 PM

If we are worried about “undecided voters” who get nothing but soundbite news, we must work to change the culture of how news is delivered.

One thing that I told my father after the election when we were discussing the race was that the MSM has passed through a one-way door with Obama. By covering for him they have bet that he will be successful. If he isn’t the American public will be looking for who sold them this person Obama and if they trace it back to the MSM there will be hell for them to pay. What does that mean? It means we can expect the kind of drive-by anaylsis that was done to Rush to cover their backsides and no amount of parsing words carefully is going to keep the MSM from seeking demons to ground the live wire of public dissatisfaction. I agree with the author. No amount of Rush parsing his words was going to stop the democratic plan to make Rush a pariah.

The author is right they want conservatives to keep quite and any other way to look at this as avoidable is not facing reality.

Conan on March 9, 2009 at 5:14 PM

JiangxiDad, you have been let down by a failed American Public School system education. But trust us when we say Jeff Goldstein good, Rush Limbaugh good, David Frum wrong, Democrats bad, MSM bad.

Mr. Joe on March 9, 2009 at 5:14 PM

For those of you interested, I discussed this a bit more on Breitbart TV today. The replay of the B-Cast will be up later. I was on in the first hour.

Jeff G on March 9, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Next time put an executive summary at the top and then you can paste all the gory detail behind.

The Principal Chair on March 9, 2009 at 5:02 PM

I believe the thesis of this verbose piece finally appeared in the last paragraph:

If we are worried about “undecided voters” who get nothing but soundbite news, we must work to change the culture of how news is delivered.

Unfortunately, it took a long time to get there and no solutions actually toward this end were offered.

This was a theoretical, academic piece of no practical use in the context in which it appeared.

BigD on March 9, 2009 at 5:16 PM

I hope he fails, too.

patriette on March 9, 2009 at 5:17 PM

I agree with Jeff and Patterico, and AP, and Ed, and Michelle and Insty … Riehl, CY, Ace (why is he back here), McQ, Maguire … can I do that? Have I gotten to 50 leaders yet? I haven’t doubled up in any state have I?

We need to push back in the middle AND on the flanks and to do so requires many leaders willing to reinforce each other when our opponents attack.

Dusty on March 9, 2009 at 5:19 PM

I fully agree that Obama is terrible for this country however “Obama is bad” doesn’t make for a very compelling argument. A bit of a problem arises when most of those running around claiming that the time for talking and thinking is over, screaming “Obama bad!” can’t answer the simple question of “why?”

It’s not about nuance, it’s about being able to support your position.

Jim on March 9, 2009 at 4:58 PM

I don’t know who the hell you are, but pull your head out of your arse and look around. The stock market tanks every time Obama opens his mouth or gives us a ‘solution’ to the economny, people’s retirements are in the toilet, we have a ‘stimulus’ package that is a complete joke and will only stimulate the government, we are giving jobs to illegal aliens in the construction industry because the democrats and rinos in congress don’t want to support the American citizens because of the ‘minority’ vote, the World is laughing at us because of the asshat in the White House, what more do you need? Open your eyes.
BTW, most people here UNDERSTAND exactly what is going on and don’t need things EXPLAINED to them.

HornetSting on March 9, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Outstanding intellectual argument by Goldstein. You can tell a lot of careful thought was put into this and I appreciate it. (I Admit had to read over it twice). A lot of us here share the position Jeff takes, and I hope other members of the conservative intelligentsia take note. Thanks for having Rush’s back. It’s downright despicable what we allow the Lib msm to get away with unchecked time after time. Re this:

As many pundits will patiently explain to you, ideological purity and idealism doesn’t win elections, so if not pragmatism, what? To which I reply, pragmatism is fine. But why not use our idealism pragmatically — which is to say, why not make it our strategy to use idealism as our cudgel against the media and the left in such a way that their tactic of misrepresentation and outrage no longer pays dividends? Why not make it our strategy to destroy their tactics — and in so doing, reaffirm the very principles at the heart of classical liberalism?

Someone please explain this to me. Jeff are you in the building? How do we get these bastards at their own game, especially when we have our own cannibalizing us and a powerful media set on mass manipulation?

RepubChica on March 9, 2009 at 5:20 PM

The valuable contribution of “That was long. In any case, Obama sucks. I hope he fails.” in response to an excellent, well reasoned post which adds a valuable new take on the discussion *clearly* showed that so you didn’t even need to explicitly stated it later in the thread.

Jim on March 9, 2009 at 5:12 PM

You’re still yacking away, Jim. Why not send your complaints about me, my opinion, and anything else you want, to anyone you requests a copy.

One other thing:

Obama sucks. I hope he fails.

JiangxiDad on March 9, 2009 at 5:22 PM

Mr. Joe on March 9, 2009 at 5:14 PM

OK.

JiangxiDad on March 9, 2009 at 5:23 PM

So yeah, I’m all for doing something more than talking, and the ball is already rolling on that. Beyond that, what should I be doing that doesn’t involve “talk” — putting together a “classical liberals against the misuse of language” celebrity soft ball team?

Jeff G on March 9, 2009 at 5:08 PM

To be sure, Mr. Goldstein, you lead by example. The rest of us need to get off of our derrières and organize something.

Entelechy on March 9, 2009 at 5:23 PM

Wait a sec! A take-off on Dr. Strangelove and not even a picture of Slim Pickens riding the bomb? What gives?

NTropy on March 9, 2009 at 5:23 PM

You’re still yacking away, Jim. Why not send your complaints about me, my opinion, and anything else you want, to anyone you requests a copy.

One other thing:

Obama sucks. I hope he fails.

JiangxiDad on March 9, 2009 at 5:22 PM

Seconded.
Obama Sux. Read it and weep, Teleprompter Boy.

HornetSting on March 9, 2009 at 5:25 PM

Leftists believe in doing anything–anything–to get what they want. Included under the heading of anything: twisting their opponents’ words in a manner which achieves the goals of the Left.

Those words can be anything from “I hope Obama fails” to “Good morning.”

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 5:27 PM

JiangxiDad, you have been let down by a failed American Public School system education. But trust us when we say Jeff Goldstein good, Rush Limbaugh good, David Frum wrong, Democrats bad, MSM bad.

Mr. Joe on March 9, 2009 at 5:14 PM

I hope Obama fails.

Din’t have none o that fancy skooling what Obmama an u did.

JiangxiDad on March 9, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Unfortunately, it took a long time to get there and no solutions actually toward this end were offered.

This was a theoretical, academic piece of no practical use in the context in which it appeared.

BigD on March 9, 2009 at 5:16 PM

It’s okay if you didn’t understand this relatively linear piece. Just be honest about it.

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Hear, Hear Mr. Goldstein !

runner on March 9, 2009 at 5:32 PM

It’s okay if you didn’t understand this relatively linear piece. Just be honest about it.

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 5:30 PM

I have a degree in speech and rhetoric and have worked in the field for over 20 years. I have friends who are college professors in communication. They would find this interesting; I found it pretty useless.

You can either do it in the real world or you can’t.

BigD on March 9, 2009 at 5:33 PM

I have a degree in speech and rhetoric and have worked in the field for over 20 years. I have friends who are college professors in communication. They would find this interesting; I found it pretty useless.

You can either do it in the real world or you can’t.

BigD on March 9, 2009 at 5:33 PM

What’d you want, a 12 step program? If you can’t figure out how to respond to the ideas presented here well … it’s a pity about that degree. Too late to get your money back?

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2009 at 5:35 PM

OUTLAW!

Well done Jeff. More of this please.

Tman on March 9, 2009 at 5:36 PM

You can either do it in the real world or you can’t.

You missed a bit.

Instead, I’d like to be free to say what I mean, and when my meaning is obvious, I would like to know that honest people have my back — and will tell dishonest people to stop being dishonest, and uninformed people that they need to smarten up before they presume to join the conversation.

Can you do it?

Pablo on March 9, 2009 at 5:36 PM

“Kids, this thread is exactly what I didn’t want our tent to be” ~ ~ RR

Entelechy on March 9, 2009 at 5:39 PM

I have a degree in speech and rhetoric and have worked in the field for over 20 years. I have friends who are college professors in communication. They would find this interesting; I found it pretty useless.

You can either do it in the real world or you can’t.

BigD on March 9, 2009 at 5:33 PM

I grew up in South Central Los Angeles and am a retired USAF NCO. I graduated from the basic and intermediate German course and the basic Russian course at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. I have written many intelligence analyses, after-action reports, Enlisted Performance Reports, Decoration Recommendations, etc. I have an Associates degree in Liberal Arts.

I’m thinking that we have two different ideas of what the real world is. In any case, I gently suggest that you try again.

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 5:42 PM

methinks he doth protest keypunch too much

Mark30339 on March 9, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Instead, I’d like to be free to say what I mean, and when my meaning is obvious, I would like to know that honest people have my back — and will tell dishonest people to stop being dishonest, and uninformed people that they need to smarten up before they presume to join the conversation.

Can you do it?

Pablo on March 9, 2009 at 5:36 PM

Can you? This war’s going to be fought on many fronts. Talk is only one of them. Maybe BigD is good with a gun, or a knife. Any problem with that?

JiangxiDad on March 9, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Good job BigD.

Obama sucks. Hope he fails.

Go Rush.

JiangxiDad on March 9, 2009 at 5:44 PM

baldi, fuer dich

Most favorite verse on complex topics like this one

Da streiten sich die Leut herum
Oft um den Wert des Glücks,
Der eine heißt den andern dumm,
Am End’ weiß keiner nix.

–Ferdinand Raimund (Hobellied)

And so the people fight and fight
Often about luck’s worth
The one the other dumb derides
And in the end, none anything knows

Entelechy on March 9, 2009 at 5:45 PM

Ich hasse Gedichte!

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 5:48 PM

It was rude for Jeff not to make a bumper sticker to go with this post so BigD could play too.

happyfeet on March 9, 2009 at 5:48 PM

:)

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 5:48 PM

Well said Jeff. Frum’s an idiot publicity-hound, and I don’t get Patterico’s point AT ALL – why should WE alter our words to suit THEIR wishes?

Martin on March 9, 2009 at 5:51 PM

Trying to reckon where I read this much handwringing from the left about the way they treated Shrubya HitlerMonkey in 2001 and thereafter. Oh yeah, I didnt read any coz there wuddnt none.

Folks are hella free to do what they want, and I guess GOPhers are free to engage in endless navel-gazing about the hidden evil racist meaning in the comments of a radio entertainer.

But at a certain point its time to shite or get off ze crappa. Either we praise Rush or we bury him. But to inveigh without letup about one aspect or another of what he said or didnt say, what he meant or didnt mean, is vital time taken away from galvanizing a national awakening geard at tossing Southside Jesus and his Lady MacBeth out of the WH four years hence.

Aloha.

Mike D. on March 9, 2009 at 5:51 PM

Those words can be anything from “I hope Obama fails” to “Good morning.”

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 5:27 PM

Clearly, by saying “Good morning.”, you’re implying that other day-parts are less good, if not downright “bad”. “Good” itself is a form of the Anglo-Saxon “God”, which is just what we’d expect from a Christer!

And of course, morning represents the time when sunlight dominates the darkness of night. Therefore, you’re expressing a Sunlight Supremacist position, which advocates white light against darkness, itself a clear allegory for Caucasian triumph over Darkies.

And don’t try to get around it by reminding us you’re black, because that just makes you a self-hating black woman, which we already knew since you’re a RethugliKKKan.


How’d I do?

The Monster on March 9, 2009 at 5:52 PM

Brilliantly written and true.

Though Rush makes me cringe.

Hochmeister on March 9, 2009 at 5:54 PM

How’d I do?

The Monster on March 9, 2009 at 5:52 PM

I am in awe.

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 5:54 PM

If you don’t hate that white honky crakkka Rush then you are a racist.

jukin on March 9, 2009 at 5:56 PM

Clear and exhaustive. If you are willing to think. Now, may we dispense with the garbage calling people “cultists for Limbaugh” who merely want to engage the verbal battle that the Frums of the world want to concede at the outset? It’s about our very language, people. And words are the only materiel we have in this war. We’re not shutting up, Frum, et al. We’re not going away.

George Orwell on March 9, 2009 at 5:57 PM

“Shhh. There’s a fascist in the house!

klickink.wordpress.com on March 9, 2009 at 4:59 PM

Now listen, you queer: stop calling me a fascist, or I’ll sock you in your goddamned face and you’ll stay plastered.

MadisonConservative on March 9, 2009 at 5:07 PM”

You know, by law when specific act of violence is threatened it is a chargeable offense.

That being said, not on your most sober day could you kick my ass. Book a flight to Tyler, Texas, I’ll show ya’.

klickink.wordpress.com on March 9, 2009 at 6:02 PM

Someone please explain this to me. Jeff are you in the building? How do we get these bastards at their own game, especially when we have our own cannibalizing us and a powerful media set on mass manipulation?

One way is to learn how interpretation works, and learn how it is the left and progressives, following from Said and others, pretend it works.

Then use that knowledge to refuse to let them frame your meaning for you. Refuse to go on the defensive, but instead turn it back on them. When Think Progress went after Tony Snow for using the term “tar baby,” they admitted they didn’t think he was using it in any way the was racist. What they were “concerned” about, they said, was that “someone” might take it wrong, and that therefore Snow should perhaps apologize.

The correct answer to which should have been, “Find me someone who thinks what I said was racist, and I’ll happily tell that person the he or she is not only wrong, but should probably ask why that remark would suggest racism to them in the first place.”

Jeff G on March 9, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Jeff G on March 9, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Shorter Jeff: don’t be afraid.

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 6:06 PM

klickink.wordpress.com on March 9, 2009 at 6:02 PM

I see someone isn’t up on their William F. Buckley quotes.

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM

why should WE alter our words to suit THEIR wishes?

It’s not “WE.” You, Allahpundit & Jeff G can all voice your opinions as you see fit. You’re stuck in internet obscurity. But Rush Limbaugh has a megaphone that reaches millions of people — and he is considered to be a leader in conservative thought. As such, the media will always try to misconstrue his words.

Patterico’s point — and Ace’s, mind you — is that he should be aware of that and perhaps exercise a little caution. I think that’s some darn good advice.

HebrewToYou on March 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Let me be perfectly clear is the biggest lie of all I think.

happyfeet on March 9, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Naturally, if what you are after is clarity, there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself in terms that make it difficult to take you out of context.

Plucked that out especially for HebrewToYou.

There’s more that addresses your concern — including a discussion on whether or not it’s always better to avoid confrontation — but, well, the post is kinda longish.

Jeff G on March 9, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Rush only gets covered in the wider media if he says something “outrageous”. The trick is to say something the media thinks is outrageous but isn’t to most people. Then he can get the media to unwittingly amplify his message.

Ann Coulter is best at this.

zmdavid on March 9, 2009 at 6:14 PM

“As many pundits will patiently explain to you, ideological purity and idealism doesn’t win elections, so if not pragmatism, what? To which I reply, pragmatism is fine. But why not use our idealism pragmatically — which is to say, why not make it our strategy to use idealism as our cudgel against the media and the left in such a way that their tactic of misrepresentation and outrage no longer pays dividends? Why not make it our strategy to destroy their tactics — and in so doing, reaffirm the very principles at the heart of classical liberalism?

Someone please explain this to me. Jeff are you in the building? How do we get these bastards at their own game, especially when we have our own cannibalizing us and a powerful media set on mass manipulation?

RepubChica on March 9, 2009 at 5:20 PM”

The media is the problem. Right now the only media on the Right is through radio.

We need to do what the dem/coms did – take over the school and take over the media. Conservatives with money need to buy up all the media they can (papers are failing like crazy, conservative entrepuenuers can sop these up and convert them to internet businesses – and maybe target just one TV network).

Those of us without can put bodies on the ground by getting teacher certifications and running for school district seats and start getting back to classical Western Civilization education.

Back only the state reps that flaunt their conservativeness.

Control the air all you want you still have to have bodies on the ground to take the land itself.

I recently earned my teacher certification and believe me when I say my students get both sides of the story – like, just WHY does an English Lit book have an environmentally friendly story in it? Think someone’s sending a subliminal message than what makes a good story?

Kids aren’t stupid – not even the ones that think they are.

Get to work, people. The Founding Fathers didn’t do it alone, either.

klickink.wordpress.com on March 9, 2009 at 6:15 PM

It looks longer than it is cause of the text part is narrower here than on blogs where the text part isn’t so narrow. Some people get intimidated by size though. It’s too big is what they think. They just have to sort of work through that.

happyfeet on March 9, 2009 at 6:16 PM

Naturally, if what you are after is clarity, there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself in terms that make it difficult to take you out of context.

It’s not just taking something out of context, Jeff G. It’s about exercising better judgement to avoid situations like these. The media has twisted even the most benign conservative speech into horrid invectives — I believe you even documented some examples — so why should we applaud someone for making it even easier for them?

There’s always going to be a double-standard in the Mainstream Media, so conservatives need to be mindful of that. For every Limbaugh we need a Goldwater. What we don’t need are thousands of Limbaughs.

HebrewToYou on March 9, 2009 at 6:17 PM

“klickink.wordpress.com on March 9, 2009 at 6:02 PM

I see someone isn’t up on their William F. Buckley quotes.

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM”

Gonna’ repeat somethin’ someone else said then someone better be ready to back it up.

I’m sure Bill would’ve. He’s been in the ring. Me too, but not for a story.

You dumbsh*t you.

klickink.wordpress.com on March 9, 2009 at 6:18 PM

Probably the best strategy is to expose the game as much as possible with a good cop/bad cop setup. By shaming the media and political groups by highlighting these moments of mistrust and characterizing them as repeat offenders and thus discredit them. This is what certain blogs, such as this one, and the Media Malpractice movie are already doing. If you know someone is lying to you, you’ll take much less stock in what they say, whatever they say. However, that strategy needs to be seen by more eyes and heard by more ears.

On the other end, the good cop would extoll the positive virtues of conservatism and concentrate on that. Too many times, I hear it stated in negative terms, as being against something, like government, instead of being for freedom.

threeCents on March 9, 2009 at 6:19 PM

This was a theoretical, academic piece of no practical use in the context in which it appeared.

BigD on March 9, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Unfortunately, I agree. As much as I concede that Goldstein had some great points to make, they were lost in a jumble of run-on sentences and overly long support to his subject sentences. Bullet points around a main theme of “tell it like it is” boldly and without fear might have been much more effective. I’m never impressed when my students try to impress me with their vocabulary or rhetorical dexterity if they can’t make their point in a concise manner.

The upshot of it is that we need to be as on message and vocally vociferous as the libs have managed to be. We hold the rhetorical high ground, but we’re afraid to use it. We need to unite around a common theme and stay on it until there is no room to misinterpret our meaning, one way or the other.

College Prof on March 9, 2009 at 6:19 PM

Kudos, Jeff.

irongrampa on March 9, 2009 at 6:20 PM

You dumbsh*t you.

klickink.wordpress.com on March 9, 2009 at 6:18 PM

My dear, I have flushed terrible looking things I’d rather not conjure again which are smarter than you. End of comms.

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 6:21 PM

You dumbsh*t you.

klickink.wordpress.com on March 9, 2009 at 6:18 PM

Winning friends and influencing people, I see.

genso on March 9, 2009 at 6:22 PM

My open question is whether Obama’s domestic policies** or Rush Limbaugh’s “failure” rhetoric has worked better?

Rush has called attention to Obama’s agenda and stalled it. Obama has spend a good deal of his political capital fighting Limbaugh and only has a $1 trillion “stimulus” package to show for it and a budget filled with 8,500 earmarks stalled in Congress.

Before his 100 days honeymoon passes, labor groups will push Obama to pass card check, environmentalists will push him to pass a cap and trade/carbon tax, and all while health care reform is sitting on cinder blocks because the U.S. banking system and economy is, in Buffett’s words, in “shambles.”

Who is the happy warrior today, Rush or Obama?

Oh, Dear Lord, I WISH Rush was the leader of the Republican Party.

Angry Dumbo on March 9, 2009 at 6:22 PM

**(let us forget the uber foreign diplomatic insult of our President giving the British PM a collection of DVDs)

Sorry for the oversight.

Angry Dumbo on March 9, 2009 at 6:23 PM

College Prof on March 9, 2009 at 6:19 PM

perhaps you can start a blog where you can “tell it like it is” boldly and with appropriate bullet points, staying vocally vociferous while holding a rhetorical high ground.

runner on March 9, 2009 at 6:23 PM

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Careful, baldi….(whispering)he and Bill are like this you know.

genso on March 9, 2009 at 6:24 PM

Careful, baldi….(whispering)he and Bill are like this you know.

genso on March 9, 2009 at 6:24 PM

Buckley? Well that explains a lot.

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 6:25 PM

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 6:25 PM

LOL I wondered what got JiangxiDad so riled, which is hard to do, BTW.

genso on March 9, 2009 at 6:27 PM

TLDR. Limbaugh is a fat womanizing druggy. Did I mention he was fat?

– David Frum

spmat on March 9, 2009 at 6:30 PM

For those of you out of the PW loop, let me give you shorthand: say what you mean, and when someone twists what you mean let them know they are being a slimy b*stard.

Words DO have meanings, the meaning of intent, and when others spin it, they need to be called on it.

E.G. – When Senator Sumrepub is asked,”Did Rush say he stopped beating his wife,” in some sort of gotcha question, rather than attempting to explain, merely say, “Why should I answer you, you mangy twit? If you don’t understand what he said, why should I allow you to interpret what I said?”

Oh, and…

Outlaw!

mugged by squirrels on March 9, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Patterico’s point — and Ace’s, mind you — is that he should be aware of that and perhaps exercise a little caution. I think that’s some darn good advice.

HebrewToYou on March 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM

and that is why you are not making $400million have 20 million people listening to you and making your views front and center in the political debate. We are at war. a war of ideads. Each and every time we cede language or a phrase or a word to the enemy we have one less weapon to use. It would be like if Germany objected to us using planes to bomb them so we stopped using planes. Then they objected to us using tanks so we got rid of them also and so on until we are left with nothing to fight.

I HOPE the left is offended by our language. I HOPE they go into the vapors everytime Rush speaks. You want to hit your enemy when you are in a war. Not kiss them.

unseen on March 9, 2009 at 6:31 PM

College Prof I piss on you head. Who cares what impresses a professor nobody that’s who. I’m so not uniting around a common theme with you cause I will be over here uniting around the we are not douchebag wankers theme.

happyfeet on March 9, 2009 at 6:31 PM

It’s not just taking something out of context, Jeff G. It’s about exercising better judgement to avoid situations like these.

Wasn’t one of the points of Jeff’s piece is that there really is NO WAY to avoid situations like this?

And since you can’t, then don’t self-censor yourself in an attempt to please people who can’t be pleased…

…or will only be pleased when the rest of us shut up, give in and give up?

Religious_Zealot on March 9, 2009 at 6:32 PM

The media has twisted even the most benign conservative speech into horrid invectives — I believe you even documented some examples — so why should we applaud someone for making it even easier for them?

I’m pretty sure that’s the question the piece answers.

It’s in there somewhere. I can’t remember where, because I was looking to impress college prof, but forgot where I laid my bullet points.

Incidentally, I don’t trust anyone who calls long-sentences “run-on” sentences. Having taught college myself in the very field where such things are taught, I recognize the difference.

Times were different then, though. We frowned on students writing papers in the style of memos and PowerPoint presentations.

I’m OLD SCHOOL, baby!

Jeff G on March 9, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Fewer dashes and more periods, but this is pretty much what I’ve been saying and why I’ve been here less frequently. Too many have fallen into the trap set by the other side. I’m not playing.

Connie on March 9, 2009 at 6:34 PM

For those of you out of the PW loop, let me give you shorthand: say what you mean, and when someone twists what you mean let them know they are being a slimy b*stard.

mugged by squirrels on March 9, 2009 at 6:31 PM

I concur.

I think that everytime someone hints that our words may be racist or homophobic or some other kind of -ic or -ist…

…we should reply something along the lines of “only a real racist (homophobe, sexist, etc) would think that.”

Religious_Zealot on March 9, 2009 at 6:36 PM

* College Prof is a whiny stupidhead.

* BigD also is a whiny stupidhead.

* baldilocks is cooler than you.

You want I can make a graph.

happyfeet on March 9, 2009 at 6:36 PM

There’s always going to be a double-standard in the Mainstream Media, so conservatives need to be mindful of that. For every Limbaugh we need a Goldwater. What we don’t need are thousands of Limbaughs.

What we need is what we can get. Mainly, what we need is people reacting on what might be termed the “retail level” — do not allow the b*ds to do it to you! And at this point there is literally nothing we can do wrong. The Leftoids and MSM are going to turn anything into nastiness, including (as brilliantly illustrated, above) “Good Morning.” What we need to realize is that that’s not a restriction, it’s total freedom. Be as nasty as you like. You won’t manage anything as nasty as what the NYT will turn the most conciliatory remarks into.

College Prof is partially right. Analyses like Jeff’s are needed because they’re inclusive — but we also need shorter versions, all the way down to sloganeering.

But more than anything else, we need to wrest the responses away from the inside-the-beltway appeasers. The Left’s tactics are specifically designed to take advantage of the tendency to be fair and complete in argument; the one real criticism of long pieces is that it gives them more chances to pick and choose which phrase they’ll amplify into what they declare the “meaning” to be.

Regards,
Ric

warlocketx on March 9, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Limbaugh said:

Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here.

Really. So it was the liberal policies of George W. Bush and the Republican-led House and Senate that got us where we are.

Come on. Let’s try to be a little more honest here.

orange on March 9, 2009 at 6:37 PM

I also think we should laugh derisively at anyone who tries to use the word ‘homophobe’ and tell them we won’t respond to them until they stop using made-up words that don’t mean anything.

Religious_Zealot on March 9, 2009 at 6:38 PM

baldilocks on March 9, 2009 at 6:21 PM

My turn to be in awe.

The Monster on March 9, 2009 at 6:41 PM

orange on March 9, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Try 50 years of liberalism. Not 8.

Connie on March 9, 2009 at 6:41 PM

Incidentally, I don’t trust anyone who calls long-sentences “run-on” sentences. Having taught college myself in the very field where such things are taught, I recognize the difference.

Such is why I would never criticize your actual writing, Jeff G, as you’re an especially cunning linguist. But, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t see an answer in that piece.

You raised a number of good points as you always do, but I simply don’t see where you and those on the opposite side of the debate (Patterico and Ace, for instance) actually conflict. We need people like you in the conservative movement; we need people like Limbaugh; and we also need people like Krauthammer. We certainly DON’T need the Frum’s, but that’s neither here nor there.

The battle over the meaning of the English language has been lost for conservatives and until we forcefully retake the public airwaves being controlled by CBS, NBC and ABC that isn’t going to change. I certainly appreciate your passion on this issue, but I think that deep-down nothing is going to come of it.

I hope I’m wrong.

HebrewToYou on March 9, 2009 at 6:42 PM

The left has been raised on the mother’s milk of confrontation, grievance theater, agit-prop.

Conservatives generally not.

I remember Buckley when asked why he chooses to use big words (no doubt by a jealous lib) said simply that those were the words that came to him, so he didn’t self-censor.

Our “leaders” need to take fewer “charm school” classes and start de-constructing the media types during interviews.

Challenge their premises, their outlook, their goals. The media see themselves influencing opinion leaders as in the two-step model of mass comm.

Rush is another influencer. But traditional models of mass comm. suggest that opinion is lead by the fashionable, the “thought leaders”, the early adopters.

Our re-framing job is big. The early adopters must be seen as the ones who reject the path to socialism. The status quo must be redefined as that path. ACORN is the status quo, tired policies that leave cities in ruin must be identified as the status quo.

r keller on March 9, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Thank God that Rush has got us talking about what conservatism is. It brings out all of the rats and fakers.

Good post Jeff!

Vince on March 9, 2009 at 6:46 PM

Come on. Let’s try to be a little more honest here.

F* you, orange. It’s trying to be honest, fair, and conciliatory against opponents who consider those qualities weaknesses to be taken advantage of that’s got us where we are now.

Regards,
Ric

warlocketx on March 9, 2009 at 6:47 PM

Well, nothing is going to come of it if we don’t start educating people on how it works and why it works and how to stop it.

That much I grant.

Jeff G on March 9, 2009 at 6:47 PM

Well, nothing is going to come of it if we don’t start educating people on how it works and why it works and how to stop it.

Any ideas on how to inspire conservatives to teach public school? Because that’s where this crap starts.

HebrewToYou on March 9, 2009 at 6:49 PM

Great post, Jeff, as always. I’ve bookmarked.

HebrewToYou on March 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Patterico’s point — and Ace’s, mind you — is that he should be aware of that and perhaps exercise a little caution. I think that’s some darn good advice.

I think that’s lousy advice, HTY. Why should Rush be forced to coddle every word out of his mouth, to measure every sentence?

Rush is doing just fine, and shouldn’t change a thing.

There’s an energized base of haters who spend hours listening to his every show, who pick over every single possible word or line that they can misconstrue and if they find anything, they will run shouting to their friends in the drive-by media who will give them airtime.

Also, you would have Rush parse each utterance to ‘acceptable’ levels, to whose levels would you have him parse to? A Democratic party-issued political correctness playbook? And if he did filter and nuance to those levels, who would want to listen to him?

We cannot tippy-toe carefully at all times, mindful of every un-nuanced word or misplaced apostrophe, worried about lefty-placed landmines just waiting to asplode in our politics. We should never have allowed those landmines to be placed in the first place, and they are getting more numerous every year. We can’t allow Rush to be silenced, because then the placing of those politically correct landmines is affirmed.

Rush is a big guy. He makes for a fantastic minesweeper. Great post, Jeff.

Oh, and OUTLAW!

Serr8d on March 9, 2009 at 6:53 PM

Let me make myself as clear as I possibly can on this thread. Under no condition do I wish my country to fail. I wish it to be the most free, powerful and wealthiest country on the planet. May it stand as a beacon of liberty, freedom and totally devoid of any world order philosophy and crapola dumped on it. For these reasons stated, and because I know the people I am about to name are against what I hope, may President-fraud Barack Obama, Pelosi, Frank,Reid, Dodd, T.Kennedy fail in all they do to create the socialistic Marxist state they strive to create. They must fail to save our great country and have it succeed.

What part of this, liberals, don’t you understand?….. your parsing and segmenting of statements is over….. from now on. Shut your pieholes!

MNDavenotPC on March 9, 2009 at 6:56 PM

This is not a conservative issue exclusively. Believe me, there are many non-progressives on the Dem side who would howl at having their meaning taken from them. And they would likely be happier with a media that isn’t so lazy and, lately, outwardly activist.

The current paradigm for interpretation is really not that old. And the one I argue for has the luxury of being intuitive.

The media is not some unyielding force of nature. It can be battled. The goal is to make the tactic troublesome for them to use. Simply telling them that you reject the premises is one way. Refusing to do their shows and interviews unless they change is another.

Voters might actually find it curious that the networks are only representing one political side and begin to ask questions.

There are other ways to fight back, I’m sure, but my purpose here is not to provide an exhaustive list.

Instead, it was to probe this issue from a different perspective in order to make clear the importance of what it is we think we’re doing when we claim to be “interpreting.”

Jeff G on March 9, 2009 at 6:58 PM

Really. So it was the liberal policies of George W. Bush and the Republican-led House and Senate that got us where we are.

Come on. Let’s try to be a little more honest here.

orange on March 9, 2009 at 6:37 PM

No it was the liberal Policies of FDR. FDIC is the reason we are here to a large extent. It changed the fundementals of banks from one of securing your money to one of giving you the highest interest. With FDIC we no longer have to worry about if our money is safe therefore humans then went after higher interest. Higher interest means higher risk which meant for banks to compete for deposits they had to constanly increase the risk of their loans. Add in the liberal policy of no money down loans, loans for the poor, the non working etc and you have a crisis 70 years in the making.

Same case can be made for SS. Before people had to be careful with their money to save for retirement. they did not tak on addtional risk until their retirements were secure. No house flipping, no stock trading etc. Once SS can along people no longer had to worry about their end years and starting spending instead of saving, started to take on risk. doing stupid things with their money.

If you had to worry every day if your money was safe in your bank and you had enough to retire on people would treat, spend and save money very differently.

The fact that liberals allow us to be free of those worries is a net negative for us and ours in the LONG RUN both as individuals and as a nation

unseen on March 9, 2009 at 6:59 PM

Jeff Goldstein

My vote for new moderator.

The article says it all. We can surrender, and in my opinion anyone with true conservative principles and sensibilities would not, or we can refuse to play a rigged game. Mike Pence answered the question exactly as Jeff suggested and they didn’t ask him again. If all who were asked the question were conservatives, and they answered as Rep. Pence did, this would have died on the vine immediately. Thank you Jeff, for stating the obvious so suucinctly.

peacenprosperity on March 9, 2009 at 6:59 PM

MNDavenotPC on March 9, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Let me be perfectly clear if my country turns into a twisted step child of the Soviet Union I not only hope it fails I will actively help it on its way to that failure

unseen on March 9, 2009 at 7:02 PM

Amazing article Jeff. Words have meaning. Speakers determine them, listeners attempt to understand them. Listeners do not dictate the meaning of the message. A is A.

blankminde on March 9, 2009 at 7:03 PM

Oh My God, Jeff, This was outstanding. I’m still reading ti but i had to vent!!!…
back later..

Loved this though….I was writing about this last week by saying we, WE need to frame the debate and NOT dance to the tune of the those that spin the debate. Call the pundits out and correct them on the spot. Take charge of the conversation rather then fitting into the confines of the interviewer’s spin.

it is a fact of language that once you surrender the grounds for meaning to those who would presume to determine your meaning for you, you are at their mercy.

katy on March 9, 2009 at 7:12 PM

I know how to stop it. I will tell you how to stop it. It’s like those battles in those wars what they made movies about where you send a wave of soldiers out of the trenches and they all get shot. So then they send another wave of soldiers after those ones and they all get shot. And then they send another wave of soldiers and they all get shot so then they have to retreat and no one wants to write the report cause it’s such an obviously fubar kind of dealio.

So you shouldn’t send your soldiers in the first place. What kind of dumbass thinks they can get a fair interview on NPR or MSNBC? Even if you get one the pieces preceding and following will give the issue a nice and proper dirty socialist frame. Ask Michelle Bachmann. Yes she’s something of a retard herself but even she’s probably dimly aware that there’s not much to gain from going on these shows.

Stop feeding them. Have the balls to make a judgment. That venue is not fair. I will not go there. My message is less important than not supporting these dirty socialist wankers. I know who they are. They are dirty socialists what hate my little country. Let them interview John McCain and his little dog Lindsay about everything. But me, I will exhibit a modicum of self-respect I think and not go on these shows. That is what you should say when they call you.

Even my favoritest people in the world, when I hear them on the NPR I mostly just don’t say anything or I say oh that was great but inside I’m cringing and hoping it doesn’t become a habit or anything.

happyfeet on March 9, 2009 at 7:12 PM

happyfeet on March 9, 2009 at 7:12 PM

I like that. Who can say their game is the only one in town. Have principle, live them, speak them, don’t apologize for them. Also, stop trying to out think the other side. How the hell can you get a clear message out if it is worded not to offend anyone? I remember from my childhood being told, “If you try to please everyone, you wind up pleasing no one.” People will respond to a clear honest message. If your message doesn’t attract them, then you have to compromise your principles, but then you have no principles.

genso on March 9, 2009 at 7:19 PM

Why should Rush be forced to coddle every word out of his mouth, to measure every sentence?

Because it seems like he wants to be the voice of conservatism in America. If he simply wants to grow his audience, by all means he should keep doing what he’s doing. But he’s not going to be our candidate and we have to remember that.

HebrewToYou on March 9, 2009 at 7:20 PM

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