Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say a lot of silly things for which they are criticized, but it is often missed that they have good reasons for saying things the way they do. Sometimes, statements are made in direct or indirect response to equally silly things that Democrats have said.
The talking points have made the rounds that Barack Obama is a bully and that he bullied a girl while in school. Rightly so, it has been pointed out that Barack did so under duress, that it was not a pattern, but an isolated incident, and that in any case, it was years ago when Barack was still young and it shouldn’t matter now. Reasonable people don’t care about such things. It is truly silly for Obama’s opponents to bring it up; it is a non-issue. The thing is: his opponents weren’t bringing this up until similar charges were brought against Mitt Romney. The Washington Post ran an article in which Romney was accused of being a bully in high school, highlighting an incident that Romney claims not to remember, and for which the only living witness heard about second-hand. Obama has admitted his past bullying, and nobody questions its validity. Those who despise such underhanded tricks are turning the tables and using these same tricks on those initiating the debate to keep things in perspective. It isn’t fair to criticize only Romney for things that Obama has also done.
Many of those who call themselves conservatives, in the name of moving towards a “color-blind” society, and recognizing the scientific consensus that race doesn’t exist (there is more genetic variation within races than between them, and we all have mixed heritage – some just more than others), have bemoaned the continued use of racial categories, especially by the government. Some radio show hosts (I remember this from many years ago, but can't verify it now) have been heard to endorse that everyone born in America should check off the box for “Native American.” Why then, should conservatives be upset when a Democrat follows this advice? The reason is, it exposes the hypocrisy of the Democrats who act as if race matters when one of almost no discernible Amerindian heritage calls herself Native American. Thus, Elizabeth Warren, who is running against Scott Brown for Senator of Massachusetts, has been enduring a firestorm of criticism for her claim to be Native American.
Some people are even now making the claim that the Democrats are waging a “war on women.” Their evidence? In New York, women can’t order more than sixteen ounces of soda (per container) and thus aren’t free to do as they choose with their own bodies (this initiative was actually from an independent, but praised by Democrats), in some states they must face a “waiting period” to buy a gun, and some abortion providers are willing accomplices to sex-selection-abortion that target females for extermination. All this hardly sounds like a war, and to many including myself it seems incredibly silly to make such an accusation. After all, many Democrats are women. However, this phrasing – “war on women” – only began when Democrats accused the GOP of the same thing for not forcing employers to cover the cost of contraceptives for their employees, and many Republicans are women, too. The reason a waiting period to buy a gun is mentioned is because recently Democrats shot down a Republican proposal to require waiting periods to get abortions. Both firearms purchase and pregnancy termination are big decisions and a waiting period sounds reasonable in both cases. In fact, I can see how the two situations are similar. The waiting period and the soda regulation are both criticized by claiming women have a “right to their bodies,” which is the same language used by Democrats who support abortion rights. The implicit message is: “two can play at this game.” Republicans don’t necessarily believe the Democrats are truly waging a “war on women.”
When you live in glass houses, you shouldn’t throw stones. To bring up that Obama once ate dog is to bring up a non-issue, except that it was done in response to Democrats pointing out that Romney once made his dog ride on the roof of his vehicle (Romney claims he likes it up there). To bring up that Obama’s father was married to three women at once is to bring up a non-issue, except that it was done in response to Democrats bringing up that Romney’s grandfather had multiple wives. Soon after Obama began to attack Romney’s record at Bain Capital, Obama’s opponents fired back that Obama had both donors and people on his campaign that had worked at Bain and other private equity firms with far worse records than Romney and soon after pundits began looking into how Mormon teachings might have influenced Romney, Obama’s opponents stepped up their efforts to tie Obama to Reverend Jeremiah Wright (Obama’s opponents were already doing this, which may have triggered the digging into Romney’s religious influences, showing how these things tend to cycle out of control).
Remember, the next time you hear a ridiculous attack from any side, ask yourself if it might simply be a response to another ridiculous attack meant to keep things in perspective. Two can play at this game.
P.S. I once read a very interesting book, Mapping Human History by Steve Olson, which outlines the scientific arguments for why race categories are illusive. So by all means, call yourself whatever you want, Mrs. Warren.
Hi, I'm Dan. I like chocolate, hiking, and politics.