Irish Diary: Of Playground Politicians and Their Discontents
Referring to Barack Obama's use of the word "stinkburger" at an appearance at the University of Michigan, George Will had a column the other day, "Barack Obama, the adolescent president," in which he made this observation about the current commander-in-chief:
Try to imagine Franklin Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower or John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan talking like that. It is unimaginable that those grown-ups would resort to japes that fourth-graders would not consider sufficiently clever for use on a playground... Anyone who has tried to engage a member of that [adolescent] age cohort in an argument probably recognizes the four basic teenage tropes, which also are the only arrows in Obama’s overrated rhetorical quiver.
Will listed the cheap tricks in the president's repertoire -- straw men, the "you-have-no-argument" assertion, the "everything is just fine" non-argument, and "my opponents are poopy-pantses." Okay, he didn't exactly say that, but Obama's unshakable belief in his own moral and intellectual superiority "is an assertion that has always been an Obama specialty. It is that there cannot be honorable and intelligent disagreement with him."
What Will left off his list -- or perhaps it's simply implicit in everything the campaigner-in-chief says these days -- is mockery. A quick Google search turns up 129,000,000 reference to Obama mocking somebody or other -- Mitt Romney, Republicans, his ideological foes, the Special Olympics, you name it. Lest we forget:
Elsewhere, I've characterized this tendency of Leftists to treat everyone who disagrees with them with contempt as the Lefty Sneer. It's one of their unloveliest traits, and one that goes back as far as I remember, which is to the mid/late sixties. What can't be defeated in honest debate can be dismissed with an insult, which is what passes for cleverness in certain quarters. Did Obama really think his "stinkburger" crack was even worthy of a dorm-room bull session, much less a presidential appearance? Regarding Joe Biden's debate with Paul Ryan in 2012, I wrote at NRO:
In perhaps the most personally disgraceful performance in the history of debates, Joe Biden smirked, mugged, snorted, and sneered his way through 90 minutes of heckling his opponent, Paul Ryan — often aided and abetted by the moderator, Martha Raddatz, who was every bit as bad as we all feared the ex-wife of president Obama’s Harvard Law School classmate, Julius Genachowski, would be.
And the Left loved it. Why? Because in their hearts, they think we deserve it, and have it coming to us for the crime of disagreeing with them. The depths of their animosity danced across Biden’s toothy visage all evening, Ryan’s reasonable arguments, delivered reasonably, being met with sneering condescension and a wonted air of smug moral superiority. For the libs, this was a dream performance, and all the Right could do, like Ryan himself, was grin and bear it.
But don't think such debate tactics are the exclusive province of the Left. Oh, no. Just check out the guy atop the next page.