Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Ethics, Politics — Rick Moran @ 3:12 am

In case you haven’t noticed, public discourse in America has taken a decidedly loutish turn in recent years. Now there’s a fabulous English word, “lout” meaning “…an awkward, stupid person; clumsy, ill-mannered boor; oaf.” It apparently has Scandinavian or “Old Norse” origins - a Viking insult no doubt.

And it fits Alan Grayson to a “T”:

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) warned Americans that “Republicans want you to die quickly” during an after-hours House floor speech Tuesday night.

His remarks, which drew angry and immediate calls for an apology from Republicans, were highlighted by a sign reading “The Republican Health Care Plan: Die Quickly.”

Grayson won’t apologize and has taken the attitude, “In for a penny, in for a pound:”

This afternoon, Grayson came back to the House floor to say he had no intentions of backing down from his comments:

“I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner to end this holocaust in America,” Grayson said.

He also referred to health care reform opponents as “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals” - almost the exact language I have used to describe some conservatives on the far right but I’m a blogger and he’s a Congressman and obviously, he should be held to a higher standard, right Speaker Pelosi?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says there’s no reason for Rep. Alan Grayson to apologize for his “Die quickly” remark, since Republicans have made statements just as outrageous as his.

“If anybody’s going apologize, everybody should apologize,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference. “We are holding Democrats to a higher standard than their own members.”

She deemed the flap over Grayson’s remarks a distraction from the healthcare debate.

“Typically, Republicans would like to use this as distraction because they have no plan,” Pelosi said.

Such courage should ordinarily be recognized; except that’s not exactly the attitude Pelosi had a few weeks ago:

A communique from the conscience of our nation, who was so troubled by Joe Wilson’s outburst that she not only made sure he was censured — after he apologized to Obama — but then proceeded to tear up publicly over the state of political discourse in America, just to let you know how much she cares.


I’d call her a hypocrite and a disgrace but, let’s face it, those ships sailed long ago. Meanwhile, here’s a snippet of Teacups on CNN last night, clearly relishing his new role as lunkheaded lightning rod. He’s all about working together, don’t you know, even though (a) according to Cantor, the GOP leadership hasn’t been invited to the White House to talk health care since May and (b) calling your opponents “neanderthals” is, at best, a mighty roundabout way of getting to the road to bipartisanship. Exit schadenfreude: As of today, his House seat’s been downgraded from “leans Democratic” to “toss up.” Keep talking, Grayson.

Is Joe Wilson calling Obama a “Liar” and Grayson calling his opponents “Neanderthals” the same thing?

Why no. No its not. That’s because Wilson called Obama a liar and Grayson called his opponents Neanderthals.

Is it the same as GOP members accusing Obamacare of eventually killing people?

Why no. No its not. Grayson called his opponents Neanderthals while the GOP said Obamacare would end up killing people.

I am on the cusp of an enormously important truth here. Trying to weight loutish behavior and language is stupid. No, not just run of the mill, dunce cap type stupid. I mean cosmically clueless. I mean stupendously simpleminded. Mindlessly moronic. Idiotically insensate.

Either you’re an ill mannered boor or, you’re not. Trying to draw equivalency, or even more imbecilically, actually believe you can place two different oafish utterances side by side and judge which is worse is gobsmackingly moronic.

There is no “special context” that one can weigh the relative lunacy of a Wilson or a Grayson insult. Whether directed at a president or the guy who swabs the floors of the washroom, it is equally wrong. The calumny is not due to what was said, or who it was directed towards, but rather the wholesale violation of one of our most precious, and important societal strictures; the empathetic give and take represented by simple, common manners.

Manners are a convention invented by civilized society to make discourse pleasant, and smooth the rough spots that naturally occur when strangers meet for the first time. Violate the convention and whether King or commoner, you are marked as a boor.

Is one ethnic or racial slur worse than another? Of course not. And trying to parse the kind of idiocy uttered by Grayson, Wilson, and any other politician from either party reveals a pathological devotion to small minded sophistry (not to mention partisan gamesmanship).

Why must everything one side says or does find some counterpart on the other? We all play the game but it is really starting to bug me. Reminds me of the lady at the candy store in my youth who used to take 10 minutes to dole out a quarter pound of jawbreakers because she would put one piece of candy on the scale at a time, trying to get the balance indicator to rest precisely in the middle, thus exactly countering the quarter pound weight she had on the other side. It was maddening. I wanted to scream “Gimme the goddamn candy and be done with it, lady!”

I’m getting to be that way over these tete a tetes which attempt to one up the other side by triumphantly proclaiming, “Your lout is more loutish than our lout, SO THERE!” Yeah, I’m guilty as charged on occasion but Jesus people, I halfway agree with Pelosi; this is a distraction. Haven’t we got anything better to do?

I’ll probably play this game again next week but right now, it sickens me. I am really going to try to be cognizant of the bottom line in these things from now on, although living in the blogosphere, it is probably unavoidable to some degree.

In the meantime, let’s agree that anyone who violates strictures against public discourse should be called out, regardless of party. This is such a simple thing, and it might improve the national conversation a little.


  1. I was fully expecting this post to turn into “Repubs are good, Dems are bad” . . . and I was wrong. You hit the problem on the head — courtesy. And it is a problem that knows no Party loyalty.

    “Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together.
    Often the very young, the untraveled, the naïve, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as ‘empty,’ ‘meaningless,’ or ‘dishonest,’ and scorn to use them. No matter how ‘pure’ their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.”
    – Robert Heinlein

    Comment by busboy33 — 10/2/2009 @ 3:53 am

  2. Rick, I have to tell you that I have just stumbled on to this blog, but so far have nothing but respect for your attitudes and approach to the completely dysfunctional political environment we have found ourselves in. I was a republican who was pushed from the party by W, and even moreso by the anti-intellectualism, pro-religion, governmental expansionism that gripped the party after 9/11. Unfortunately, the democrats don’t seem to be any better at this than the republicans. As far as I can tell, the only thing that the 2 parties have demonstrated is that they are completely corrupt and incompetent.

    My fundamental question is this - how is it possible that a viable 3rd-party has not emerged? How much longer will this country tolerate these parties? Have we truly become so lazy in this country that the most we are willing to do is scream and yell, but not willing to pick up the mantle of change and revolution anymore?

    The game is well and truly rigged against any 3rd party emerging. Ballot access is the number one control used by both parties but beyond that, the media is a huge problem as well. Since they refuse to recognize any third parties as viable, they are dismissed.

    The institutional barriers are formidable. Organizational problems abound (look at Perot’s 3rd party that fell apart after he left). No viable 3rd party can truly emerge and if it tries, it is usually viable for only an election cycle or two before it is absorbed into one or the other party. That’s the history. I have no idea how to change it.


    Comment by Dave — 10/2/2009 @ 7:35 am

  3. agreed, and agreed. well said.

    Comment by brooks — 10/2/2009 @ 9:34 am

  4. They are all trifling little people! A pox upon them and all their works!

    Comment by Gayle Miller — 10/2/2009 @ 10:43 am

  5. “In the meantime, let’s agree that anyone who violates strictures against public discourse should be called out, regardless of party.” I agree but I’m not holding my breath. Self-promoting opportunists like Wilson and Grayson can always count on being celebrated by their supporters.

    Were so polarized, the Middle has practically disappeared.

    Comment by Doug King — 10/2/2009 @ 12:24 pm

  6. They are like children in a school yard. No one will listen if you are denigrating and yelling at them. I do find it interesting that the liberals call for punishment of anybody who violates the civility standards but then as pelosi says, oh they started it.

    Comment by RodZ — 10/2/2009 @ 1:55 pm

  7. Comity and courtesy are excellent calls to be heeded by all–no argument.

    Of course, it takes two to tango here, and I find some encounters with the other persuasion impossible to keep within reasonable bounds, simply because really filthy, in-your-face motor-mouths override everything else, including my feeble attempts at being polite. It seems that some leftwingers have developed the “skill” to shout their opinions at full volume without taking pause for a breath, and they do not listen to your side on principle. Try calling these louts out!

    In calling out people for being rude louts, you may achieve a bit of startled quiet for a short time, but on the rebound, louts will be louts. Activist louts of either political persuasion are professional at it, and will see being called out to be a goad to ever nastier invective and higher volume. Some of these professional louts are paid agitators in the first place.

    If you can control the venue, control the audience or membership, and have the right and capability to gavel down or even expel the louts, you may be able to maintain comity. Otherwise, you are in for more and more loutish behavior.

    Comment by Mannning — 10/2/2009 @ 11:02 pm

  8. The GOP has at least three healthcare reform bills in the hopper. Somewhere I’ve got the bill numbers. Like most minority bills, the chances of these things seeing daylight on the floor before the next GOP majority is almost nil. Their existence gives the lie to Democrat claims that the GOP has no plan.

    It would be fair to mock the GOP plans, oppose the GOP plans, use those plans in the next election in vulnerable districts, but it is not fair and goes beyond loutishness to say that they don’t exist. You don’t get to airbrush submitted legislation that has had its first reading and been sent to committee even if it is a foregone conclusion that the Democrat chairman is going to bury the bill and never bring it up for debate and markup.

    The problem isn’t the neanderthal comment. That’s uncivil but certainly in bounds in the rough and tumble world of politics. What’s out of bounds is to say that the GOP wants you, yes you, to die and die quickly if you get sick.

    There is no reasonable policy hook to attach to this “wants you to die” meme. It is not hyperbole but a flat out lie and it is a dehumanizing lie meant to shame people into not associating with the GOP. It was done from the well of the House. That’s not acceptable in normal political discourse but to Nancy Pelosi it is acceptable.

    I hope it stops here with Grayson and Schultz (who said it first and on MSNBC). If it spreads, the republic is in serious trouble.

    Comment by TMLutas — 10/3/2009 @ 11:59 pm

  9. “Sarah Palin Hob Nobs with Racists”

    This is being spread by the Left as their most recent attack on Palin. Apparently it is about her ghostwriter’s relationship with American Spectator writer Robert McCain.

    I wonder, where does he fall on your continuum? Is he someone we would rather not have in the movement or someone you approve of?

    Comment by jespo — 10/4/2009 @ 11:25 am

  10. All of this mess needs to end. Even more than the childish Senators and Reps, I blame the media. These are the people who get the press while respectful members who present intelligent arguments get a teeny tiny blurb in the local news if they’re lucky. Grayson was out of line (and I wrote to him and told him so), but he’s doing it to make this very point (i.e., the method to the madness/poor behavior). We’re all talking about him and his views now, are we not? Let’s face it, Americans love rudeness and outlandishness and scandal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That development has been among the most painful for me over the 4+ decades I’ve been around, and I think it’s eating our country alive.

    Comment by Todd — 10/4/2009 @ 7:41 pm

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