Unexamined Premises

'You Can't Possibly Mean That'

A bad case of the vapors

A bad case of the vapors

Like the battle of Gettysburg, the fight over Duck Dynasty seems to have erupted partly by accident, and was occasioned by the Left’s outrunning its own supply lines in an attempt to take out a strategic Rightist redoubt — thus getting their heads handed to them. And over what?

Words.  Words uttered in the course of an interview — but because they touched on a Taboo Topic (raised by interviewer himself), have been used a pretext for a bad case of the “bigotry” vapors, and the attempted banishment of one of pop culture’s most beloved figures to outer purdah.

So perhaps these words, from the book Rules for Radical Conservatives, might be timely. Because this — written in its own voice by “David Kahane” — is how the Left thinks. From Rule No. 2: Become What You Behold:


As I’ve noted, if you guys are going to be able to fight us effectively, you have to know not only the territory, like Prof. Harold Hill in The Music Man, but the lingo as well.  And I’m not just talking about words like “swell,” and “gee whiz” and “so’s your old man.”  I’m talking about being able to pass for one of us until we’ve got our guard down and then – whammo!

To that end, I’ve assembled a list of handy phrases, which you’re going to have to learn to deliver with a straight face, like Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs, practicing his cover story in front of a men’s room mirror, with the requisite raised eyebrow and our patented Lefty Sneer ™ dropped in at key junctures.  You’re deep in enemy territory now, so pay attention:

1) You can’t possibly mean that.   This is our way of saying you’re full if it, but it goes beyond simple disagreement.  It means that whatever it was that you just said, it has put you beyond the pale of polite discussion; it also very likely means you’re a racist, a bigot, a homophobe and/or a practicing Roman Catholic.  All of which are, among our crowd, grounds for instant expulsion from polite society.  You can’t possibly mean that means that whatever you just said has wounded us grievously, has challenged some fundamental core belief of our Weltanschauung and struck at the very heart of the fantasy world we mostly live in.  It may be something as complex as a point-by-point refutation of An Inconvenient Truth, the truth about which we most definitely do not want to hear, or a minor statement of personal or political belief, such as, “I’m not really comfortable with the idea of gay marriage,” or “I think we ought to cut taxes to encourage private investment,” or, “you know, Michael Jackson really sucked.”

In short, just about anything you can say that goes against our herd-like instinct to always be on the politically correct side of every issue will elicit this rejoinder.  Which is why, when you hear one of us utter one of our usual ex cathedra-like pronunciamentos, just respond with You can’t possibly mean that and watch the fur fly!

You know, those Tea Party types look mighty dangerous to me.  Why, there could be another Tim McVeigh or Lee Harvey Oswald lurking among them.  Whereas the G-12 protesters and the Cinco de Mayo crowd are the very models of engaged political theater.

You can’t possibly mean that!

As far as we’re concerned, the Christian Right and the midwestern militias are by far the greatest threat to the Republic, much worse than the Muslims.

You can’t possibly mean that!

If only the Catholic Church would allow its priests to marry, we wouldn’t have all these pedophiles running around, preying on altar boys.

You can’t possibly mean that!

Or better yet, wield this handy phrase preemptively, as we especially like to do. When we’re prattling on about one bit of Received Wisdom or another, cut in with your own verbal karate chop to the jugular, whether it addresses the immediate point we’re making or not. The point is to stop the argument in its tracks, to assert your higher reality:  You can’t possibly mean that you support what’s going on in Washington!  You can’t possibly mean that you support forcing people into unions! You can’t possibly mean that you want to flush our children down the drain for the sake of the corrupt educational establishment!  You can’t possibly mean that you think the Great Society was a good thing! You can’t possibly mean that you want to go to the Post Office to see your doctor!

You get the picture.

More important tips after the page break…

That last thing I want to do is hurt your tender feelings

That last thing I want to do is hurt your tender feelings

2) Everyone knows that.  Another all-purpose put-down, signifying that you’re a complete idiot.  It’s a riff on the old Soviet “as is well known…” boilerplate, which pretty much signaled that whatever statement came next was a complete and utter lie, although we preferred to use the term “higher truth.”

Everyone knows that Al Gore really won the 2000 election; that John Kerry really was a war hero, even though he only spent 16 weeks in Vietnam and yet won more medals-per-minute than Audie Murphy; that Teddy Kennedy was the Lion of the Senate instead of the Swimmer of Chappaquiddick; that Jimmy Carter was a misunderstood president; and that Alger Hiss and the other Soviet spies were really innocent (of course they’re innocent, in our mind!).  Gainsay any of these theses and we’ll nail you to the door of that church in Wittenberg, just like Martin Luther King did.

Still, you ought to give it a try and watch what happens.  WARNING: be prepared for some exploding heads.

Everyone knows that the Democrats are the party of slavery, segregation, secularism and sedition.

You can’t possibly mean that!

Everyone knows that Avatar sucked.

 You can’t possibly mean that!

Everyone knows that global warming is a complete crock, that a bunch of crooked scientists faked the data in order to siphon even more tax money out of our pockets, and that the polar bears are friskier than ever.

You can’t possibly mean that!

Everyone knows that you never want to live in a red state next to a blue state, because as blue states like Massachusetts, California, New York and Illinois die, hordes of Democrats stream out of them, fleeing high crimes and the even higher taxes they just voted.  Like locusts, they move into an adjoining state, such as New Hampshire or Oregon or Indiana, beg for asylum – and then set about destroying it as well.

You can’t possibly mean that!

But, of course, you do.

How to utterly confound the Left after the page break…

Gets ’em every time

3) You’re not really still a… This one’s meant to indicate that the person you’re speaking with is little better than a troglodyte, a superstitious moron whose walnut-sized brain is probably stuffed with religious “dogma,” and which is profoundly disinterested in all the Major Important Truths discovered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Marx, Engels, Lenin, the Frankfurt School, Herbert Marcuse and Oprah Winfrey.  Categories include practicing Catholic, orthodox Jew, Republican, conservative, resident of flyover country, gun owner, heterosexual, member of a two-parent family and a driver of a 1984 Chrysler LeBaron.

Time to turn the tables.  Come on, this one’s easy – you can do it:

You’re not really still a Democrat, are you?  Everyone knows that all right-thinking people were switching to Independent, and not moving in lockstep with the neo-Stalinists.

You’re not really still an atheist, are you?  Everyone knows there’s no upside.

You’re not really still going to stop at one kid, are you?  Small families are so anti-social.  Besides, everyone know that we need lots and lots of kids to support the Social Security system.

You’re not really going to drive that piece of hybrid crap, are you?  Because everyone knows that they run up everybody’s electricity bill, cause more polluting coal-fired electrical plants to come on line to meet demand – unless you want to build a few nukes – and endanger your own and your kid’s life!

To which, of course, we will answer:

You can’t possibly mean that!

You can buy the Kindle version of Rules for Radical Conservatives here; the audio book, read by John Allen Nelson, can be found here.

For the truth about “David Kahane,” click here.

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