How I learned to stop worrying about “manufactured” outrage

posted at 10:01 pm on April 25, 2012 by Karl

Or perhaps it is how I learned to start being concerned about “manufactured” outrage. It depends on how you look at it, I suppose.

After all, when I read generally conservative columnists like Matt K. Lewis or John Podhoretz disdaining “manufactured” outrages from different angles — even when the GOP may enjoy some temporary advantage from the kerfuffles of the current campaign — I am not entirely unsympathetic. Indeed, I am already on record arguing that institutionally, the GOP should not engage in these controversies, but note that Democrats have been generating them to distract from the anemic economy and the Obama administration’s record on the issues Americans care most about. I think that’s pretty close to Podhoretz’s position, if I’m reading him correctly.

On the other hand, I recognize at least two problems inherent in the position of disdaining these distractions entirely.

First, there is at least a whiff of condescension involved. I do not think those upset by the Obama administration’s plans to infringe on religious liberty as part of Obamacare are just pretending to be upset. I doubt the progressives who seem so passionate about increasing access to abortion and birth control are playing make-believe (beyond the notion that such access is “free” in terms of money or overall liberty). People who denounce a Democratic honcho who let her mask slip to suggest stay-at-home mothers don’t really work are not entirely engaged in hype. I may think economic growth, exploding public debt and the entirety of Obamacare to be bigger issues, but it would be elitist to deny there are real issues at the heart of most of the supposed sideshows of the campaign so far.

This is even arguably true about this campaign’s dog tales. Admittedly, whether Mitt Romney once transported his family dog atop his car or Obama ate dog as a child in Indonesia (with little apparent regret as an adult) has no direct policy consequences. On the other hand, Podhoretz admits Democrats became interested in the Romney dog tale because of the effect it had on Mitt’s favorability in focus groups. Moreover, the intersection of moral psychology and politics is a hot topic these past months. And in this regard, it is notable that when asked whether it would be wrong for a family to eat the family dog after it was killed by a car, it turns out that the only group that thinks it alright is college-educated liberals. The swingiest of swing voters are almost by definition not particularly moved by policy arguments, or they would be partisans. America is still a free enough country that we get to tell this key bloc that dog tales are unimportant, but they don’t have to listen.

The second major problem with ignoring campaign sideshows is Utopianism. As Podhoretz notes, opposition research is democratized in the Internet Age. And Lewis concedes that ceding the field to Democrats on these issues may be necessary to win elections (and thereby address those “real” issues). There is nothing in American history, let alone the history of the Internet Age, suggesting that a handful of pundits — or even concerted efforts by candidates and their teams — are going to stop these controversies. To rhetorically shovel against this tide is in one sense noble, but also unconservative to the degree that it pretends human nature is so easily molded by the political realm.

In short, while I still think it helps the GOP to use these kerfuffles to say Democrats want to avoid discussing the economy and Obama’s record, there is probably a role for those who want neutralize or reverse their effect.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Look, their side starts with the petty Alinsky attacks, we have to obliterate them. Romney had a great speech last night, and it’s resonating. It’s still the economy, and we’re not stupid.

John the Libertarian on April 25, 2012 at 10:03 PM

when I read generally conservative columnists like Matt K. Lewis or John Podhoretz disdaining “manufactured” outrages from different angles — even when the GOP may enjoy some temporary advantage from the kerfuffles of the current campaign — I am not entirely unsympathetic. Indeed, I am already on record arguing that institutionally, the GOP should not engage in these controversies, but note that Democrats have been generating them to distract from the anemic economy and the Obama administration’s record on the issues Americans care most about. I think that’s pretty close to Podhoretz’s position, if I’m reading him correctly.

On the other hand, I recognize at least two problems inherent in the position of disdaining these distractions entirely.

First, there is at least a whiff of condescension involved. I do not think those upset by the Obama administration’s plans to infringe on religious liberty as part of Obamacare are just pretending to be upset…

You’re right on the points, Karl, on all of the above.

Lourdes on April 25, 2012 at 10:15 PM

It’s the economy, stupid… and we’re not in charge of the economy LIKE OBAMA IS…

ABO… ABO…

Khun Joe on April 25, 2012 at 10:16 PM

PBHO ate dog.

Bishop on April 25, 2012 at 10:19 PM

…there is probably a role for those who want neutralize or reverse their effect.

I wonder: will there ever be a time when one can simply make statements, share opinions or at least speak/write them without this “warfare”-Alinsky plotting and scheming?

I realize it’s necessary in the times when the Left is acutely “practicing Alinsky” but I just wonder if there’ll ever be a time when we can…laugh again, run in a field with Lassie, skip rope, call the dog home and pat him/her on the head and eat a potroast and apple pie from a kitchen table covered in a red-plaid cloth…

Lourdes on April 25, 2012 at 10:20 PM

We are all watching a cosmic play, directed by the father of lies. Everyone’s head is turned to the play (distracting us from what’s really going on). So the scenes play out, the critics on all sides comment, but still we’re left with the play as originally acted, e.g.,
- contraceptives
- dogs on car roofs and on dinner plates
- men acting badly
- full-time moms are lazy bums
- white Hispanics killing innocent black youth
- etc., etc., etc.

in the meantime, the foundation continues to crack.

williampeck1958 on April 25, 2012 at 10:22 PM

it is notable that when asked whether it would be wrong for a family to eat the family dog after it was killed by a car, it turns out that the only group that thinks it alright is college-educated liberals.

PBHO ate dog.

Bishop on April 25, 2012 at 10:19 PM

BO and MO: “Eat your puppies!”

Lourdes on April 25, 2012 at 10:22 PM

John the Libertarian on April 25, 2012 at 10:03 PM

agreed, Mitt did give a great speech, he countered the fairness issue Obama is trying to hang on us,.. and he hit all the right notes of optimism.

I was never passionate about any of them, but Romney in particular left me cold… now, with his speeches getting progressively better, I’m starting to feel good, optimistic about our chances, he is giving us a cause to rally around, a happy warrior.

The outrages, we have to counter, or it just let’s the dems paint us all as crazy right wingers like they do every 4 years..

It’s a plus Mitt is good at counter punching.

mark81150 on April 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM

John the Libertarian on April 25, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Agreed. A few years ago, I would have said to just let it go; stick with our game plan. But this president and these times often call for answering fire with fire. Or, Alinsky with Alinsky.

4Grace on April 25, 2012 at 10:25 PM

How I learned to stop worrying about “manufactured” outrage

………..AND LEARNED TO LOVE THE MSM MANUFACTURED OUTRAGE
INFO BOMB…DrStrangeNewsLove
(snark)

canopfor on April 25, 2012 at 10:28 PM

..just having consumed two three *stiff* Beefeater’s Marti’s (in obeisance to one of my most favorite irreverent bloggers, The Woodsterman), I an barely traverse your dense prose with the minutest degree of comprehension, Karl.

It is not in the least owing to your literate style, but rather the dimmed-down capabilities of an already handicapped cognitive process on my part.

Would I be correct in summarizing the theme of this tome as being, “Obama sucks elephant penises”?

Am I even close? Did I at least get that last round on paper? Anyone happen to have a bottle of olives they can spare?

..anyone? Anyone?

Will QOTD be along soon to rescue me?

The War Planner on April 25, 2012 at 10:30 PM

Or perhaps it is how I learned to start being concerned about “manufactured” outrage. It depends on how you look at it, I suppose
=======

Coming Soon,to a GOP Rally Near You!

ObamaZombieVoterBotOperativeGoons,
**********************************

that will be at GOP Events,and will be
Astro-Turfy,
Seeded
Stacked
and Planted!!

canopfor on April 25, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Dense == substance-laden.

Mean with reverence!

The War Planner on April 25, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Indeed, I am already on record arguing that institutionally, the GOP should not engage in these controversies, but note that Democrats have been generating them to distract from the anemic economy and the Obama administration’s record on the issues Americans care most about.

I’m sure that John McCain would be loathe to engage in these controversies.

Curtiss on April 25, 2012 at 10:33 PM

I’m sure that John McCain would be loathe to engage in these controversies.

Curtiss on April 25, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Exactly my thought. So the answer is to ridicule, don’t ignore, don’t take your own ‘outrage’ seriously…just ridicule

I thought the Obama ate Dog was good response. I think Axe and the left/media were going to use the dog crate business…now they’ll think twice.

The Man bites Dog meme is silly, yes, he was only 7 (or whatever)…we all know that, and no we should not get hysterical about the Man bites Dog story…but we should do a twitter thing. Why not? It helps rally US.

When McCain was ridiculed for not waving his hands above his shoulders did he ridicule barry? Or that he didn’t know how to use email? No…and he lost.

if a pol doesn’t attack he doesn’t look like he wants the job that bad…and that’s what he communicates to his Supporters.

Remember, you can not not communicate

r keller on April 25, 2012 at 10:49 PM

Pray for Bo

pitythefool on April 25, 2012 at 10:52 PM

PBHO ate dog.

Bishop on April 25, 2012 at 10:19 PM

…and are you sure that is gum…he is always chewing?

KOOLAID2 on April 25, 2012 at 10:56 PM

One thing we learned from the Bush-Rove compassionate era and the assaults on Sarah Palin is that our founding fathers is to leave no lie or insult to honor unchallenged. It is not a mark of a civilized society that one keeps silent as Bush did. The mark of a civilized society is that one has the right to say anything, yet considers his words carefully, lest he be held to account. 100 years ago, being held to account could mean forfeiting your life or at least getting a beatdown.

At least Mittness is up to the challenge of hitting back swiftly. Unfortunately, he is also guilty of doing the same against his competition. This is not a mark of an honorable man. Cannot vote for this slimeball.

AH_C on April 25, 2012 at 11:03 PM

Dog-eater created his own outrage by bragging about it in his ghost-written book.

BHO Jonestown on April 25, 2012 at 11:24 PM

Hey there, War Planner.

Count me in!

Beefeater Gin is always my first choice at home for my beloved martinis. This is the perfect drink to go with war planning.

I like 3 blue cheese stuffed olives, (which I consider lunch.)
Cashew nuts on the side.

I always have olives in the ice box, gin in freezer, limes if I make Gimlets.

My other favorite drinks are Sidecars and Navy Grog from Trader Vics.

As you can tell, I love pretty cocktails…it’s so Mad Men.

Typicalwhitewoman on April 25, 2012 at 11:35 PM

OT
Mark Levin took to the airwaves today to defend Governor Palin from recent Republican Establishment attacks on her Vice-Presidential Campaign. He also goes after them for their pathetic attempt to rewrite the history of the 2008 election.

http://conservatives4palin.com/2012/04/mark-levin-defends-governor-palin-from-recent-gop-establishment-attacks.html

“Without Palin, McCain would have lost by 20 points.”

Green eyed Lady on April 26, 2012 at 12:09 AM

Green eyed Lady on April 26, 2012 at 12:09 AM

been a while since I last saw you. Cheers.

AH_C on April 26, 2012 at 12:13 AM

As you can tell, I love pretty cocktails…it’s so Mad Men.

Typicalwhitewoman on April 25, 2012 at 11:35 PM

If you were a typicalwhiteman, I would ask, “Are you sure that’s what it is?”, unfortunately, you’re not.

Oh well.

preallocated on April 26, 2012 at 12:21 AM

Anyway, I’m put back maybe 500ml of Jameson Whiskey with f’n Mt. Dew. Now that’s a perty drink.

preallocated on April 26, 2012 at 12:22 AM

AH_C on April 26, 2012 at 12:13 AM

Cheers to you !

*waves*

Green eyed Lady on April 26, 2012 at 12:29 AM

PBHO ate dog.

Bishop on April 25, 2012 at 10:19 PM

4 letters missing.

S. D. on April 26, 2012 at 2:18 AM

First, there is at least a whiff of condescension involved.

Condescension is certainly part of it, but just as disturbing as the condescension involved is the whiff of cluelessness.

Basically, it’s GOP operatives saying, “The only issues that are issues are the ones that not only do I want to talk about, but which benefit us and play to our electoral strategy. Therefore, I will only discuss the economy, regardless of whatever other legislation comes before Congress and regardless of current events. If it doesn’t fit my preconceived narrative of what I want to talk about, it must be unimportant.”

…So unless there is in fact, only 1 issue of any importance in the entirety of American political discourse, then things like this seem pretty stupid to say.

And Lewis concedes that ceding the field to Democrats on these issues may be necessary to win elections (and thereby address those “real” issues).

Again, this is where the GOP demonstrates utter stupidity. The economy has been improving for awhile, and will likely continue to do so anemically as time goes on. The situation between Israel and Iran is likely to boil over in the meantime, and of course there are always domestic disputes over other issues (e.g. abortion, education, environmental policy, illegal immigration, consumer & worker safety regulations, death penalty, gun control, etc). So while the GOP is “staying on message” the American people begin to say, “Are you just one-trick ponies?” As the answer becomes clearly yes, then anyone with any issue outside of the GOP’s predefined “winning issue” will either not vote for lack of a candidate, or will instead vote for Obama.

Stoic Patriot on April 26, 2012 at 5:15 AM

4 letters missing.

S. D. on April 26, 2012 at 2:18 AM
-
Good morning! :-)

diogenes on April 26, 2012 at 6:12 AM

So the answer is to ridicule, don’t ignore, don’t take your own ‘outrage’ seriously…just ridicule

r keller on April 25, 2012 at 10:49 PM

Right, nothing cuts like humor. #Obamadogrecipes was political gold.

petefrt on April 26, 2012 at 7:52 AM

Don’t overlook the fact that THESE types of issues are the ones that break through to that 10% who don’t pay much attention and yet decide elections.

That is why it is imperative that if they throw a snowball we must throw 10 back, because the snowballs are what catches the eyes of the mushy middle.

Jocon307 on April 26, 2012 at 8:30 AM

I don’t read John Podhoretz much; but I do read Matt Lewis.

And there hasn’t been ANYTHING that Lewis has opined about in the past year that I’ve been reading his blog posts that has had an ounce of credibility.

Matt Lewis is wrong about EVERYTHING.

mountainaires on April 26, 2012 at 8:48 AM

Remember the rules:

5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.

The most important thing when dealing with a manufactured outrage is to remember it is manufactured and laugh at the outrage.

Didn’t Belle Starr say in one movie:

It ain’t [worth it]. You’re both crazy, but you do keep me amused. I am having a *real* good time.

Laurence on April 26, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Republicans are fat cats. Republicans are rich. Republicans hate minorities. Republicans oppose civil rights. Republicans are for stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Republicans want to pollute the air and water. Republicans don’t believe in education. Republicans want all women bare-foot and pregnant. Republicans are red necks. Republicans are uneducated. Republicans are wild-eyed religious fanatics.

The Tea Party are NAZI’s. The Tea Party cut the gas line to a grill at a Democrat Congressman’s brother’s house in Northern VA. The Tea Party are red necks. The Tea Party are violent.

And the President is now saying Republicans are “indecent” so that’s going to become the next fact of life according to John Stewart and Jimmy Fallon. So let it be written. So let it be done.

How do all you deep thinkers think all these truths became truth? We’d better get involved in countering irony with irony and tweets with tweets. We’ve got 90% of what educates the masses–including the public schools–against us. We either fight back at this level or there will reach a new breaking point and we’ll be fighting to keep people with conservative views out of camps. (and please don’t tell me this won’t happen…YOU think very hard about where YOUR line is. What will you take from corupt authority before you begin to fight back?)

Portia46 on April 26, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Manufactured outrage by Democrats is just that — it is intentionally manufactured for one or more reasons.

I would guess the primary reason — i.e., about 40% or more of the time — that reason is distraction. It is a purely defensive tactic, done to steer the public debate off of, or away from a dangerous topic; one that is becoming a focal point. Ignoring it can be beneficial, but ONLY if the intent is to direct the conversation back to the original topic. Otherwise it should NOT be ignored.

A second reason is just to test the waters — Democrats have always liked to start issue fights because they think they are the party of ideas. I would guess that around 35% of instances involving manufactured outrage arise out of a desire to “test” the waters to see if a particular issue could have any traction with the general public in an upcoming campaign — i.e., it has just graduated from “focus group” status, and the time has come to give it a run around the block. If it catches on, they keep pushing it. If it doesn’t catch on, they may try a few different angles before moving on. Ridicule can be very effective in countering this sort of “manufactured outrage.”

A third reason — and I think it may comprise about a quarter of instances — can be chalked up to public displays of desperation or sheer stupidity. It is usually characterized by intentionally trying to provoke a fight with Republicans for no specific reason, other that to have a fight. Former Congressman Alan Greyson (D-FL) may have been the leading practitioner in our lifetime. There are lots of instances of backfire in this category.

Maybe a portion of this category arises out of a sense of general frustration, borne of the feeling among Democrats that they are somehow being bested in the court of public opinion.

My observation has been that the percentage of instances of “just plain stupid” manufactured outrage on their part has grown over time, and will likely continue to grow.

Most political exchanges, however, have elements of two of the above, and can sometimes contain elements of all three categories. A good example of a combined case of manufactured outrage was the hack-job attempt by the members of the Congressional Black Caucus to attribute a tea party member yelling racial epithets at them.

They desperately needed a distraction from the bleeding on the healthcare bill, and their ham-fisted story about the tea partiers yelling racial epithets suddenly emerged.

However, it was quickly put to bed with Breitbart’s monetary challenge for anyone to produce video or audio proof.

I have always been frustrated with the Republican tendency to avoid engaging when it comes to Democrats’ claims of outrage.

Trochilus on April 26, 2012 at 5:23 PM