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August 24, 2008


What a petty complaint. Blow didn't call Obama "swishy". He used that word to describe Obama's comment -- a comment that IMHO deserved criticism.

The level of criticism Obama is taking is nothing like what Republicans have to put up with. A few days ago McCain was compared to Hitler and Robert Mugabe in a speech by Obama supporter Madonna. George Bush is routinely called a chimpanzee ("Bush chimpanzee" gets 797,000 hits in google.) When someone calls Obama a chimpanzee or compares him to Joseph Stalin, I will join Brendan in deploring the outrageous criticism.

David -

A Madonna concert isn't a speech. Apparently she didn't even say a thing - just projected a number of images. Nor do I think she was trying to sway the voters of England...

Even taking the comments of a performer and holding them to some higher standard of neutrality or journalistic professionalism is unreasonable (particularly in our sensationalized world where sound bites and media attention benefit the entertainment personality and the media establishment).

As to saying "George Bush is routinely called a chimpanzee", that doesn't seem self-evident to me. Don't recall seeing that in the New York Times.

Maybe I should do a google search on "Bush chimpanzee"...


About the original post, I'd actually agree with David.

The comment was directed toward Obama's delivery and Blow's opinion of the impression Obama was making. I think Blow overstated the case, but I'd agree with him that Obama doesn't always project the same degree of shallowness and easy self-assurance that McCain can exhibit (which I do mean as a sincere compliment to McCain). Obama could use some coaching in that area.

As to the term "swishy" - it wasn't the best (or most accurate) word to use, but going from there to "homophobia" is a bit of a jump.

Last comment - with respect to the PS - the Right of center folks do the same thing but they do tend to be more instructive (providing more "do's") and less critical (less emphasis on the "don't's").

I did google "Bush chimpanzee". Got 798,000 hits.


Doesn't the fact you have to explain how "swishy" is a slur, undermine your assertion?

In other words, if someone uses a term that their audience does not generally understand to have some undesirable underground meaning (and indeed the speaker may not understand this), is it really slur?

This seems a stretch.

David - I still don't understand your "its not as bad as" argument. If there are 3/4 of a million hits on "Bush chimpanzee" what does that really mean or matter?

Is it that nasty name calling is part of our political landscape so no-one should complain about it?

Or that you are entitled to say nasty things about Obama till they number over 3/4 of a million?

How many of those 3/4 million are people like you, commenting on the phenomenon? Next time you look there will be even more.

How many of those were NY Times Op-ed pieces, or does that not make a difference to you?

How many of those were late-night talk show jokes? Don't you believe talk-show hosts are free from criticism (we can reference your approving citations of John Edwards being ridiculed for his affair on said programs) in this regard?

I'm in agreement with MartyB as well - a term doesn't necessarily have to be defined by it's most extreme (or derogatory) meaning. Calling it a slur is a bit of a reach.

Howard Craft, I do believe that the bar for overly harsh criticism has been set higher for Republican Presidents and Presidential candidates than for Obama. However, I accept your point that I cannot prove my thesis with just a couple of imperfect examples.

David's comments don't seem sincere to me. There's always someone (left or right) online who only fights the hypocrisy on one side of the aisle, and is noticeably silent when their camp does it, too. Saying he will fight against those Republican slurs sounds as if they haven't happened yet.

But they have. Remember the pin sold at the Texas Republican convention that read "If Obama is President will we still call it the White House?". The Obama monkey doll that looks like old school blackface? Tom Sullivan of Fox News who said Obama's Berlin speech reminded him of Hitler?

When someone calls Obama a chimpanzee or compares him to Joseph Stalin, I will join Brendan in deploring the outrageous criticism.

Time to deplore, David. Time to deplore.

I'm pretty sure that every modern president and every party nominee has been compared to Hitler at some point. Certainly Reagan, both Bushes, both Clintons, Carter, and Gore have (Google any of those names and you'll get millions of hits). So have most pro-life and pro-choice groups, pro and anti-war groups, feminists and fundamentalists.

It's the go to insult used by blog commenting hooligans, concert performers, pundits and Congressmen alike and really hard to get upset about anymore.

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