Throwing Sister Souljah Under the Bus
Publius thinks it’s time to ban the phrase “Sister Souljah” moment, not just because it’s hackneyed but because it has been misused.
The more benign interpretation is that a Sister Souljah moment occurs when a candidate criticizes some group or idea nominally aligned with that candidate. In short, it’s criticizing your own coalition — or some idea valued by your coalition — to show independence and courage, etc.
The less benign interpretation is that “Sister Souljah” means distancing oneself from black people. When used in this sense, the Sister Souljah label masks an uglier, racial dimension lurking below the conceptual surface.
Let’s have a little straight talk — Clinton’s original Sister Souljah moment falls squarely within the latter sense. His statement got publicity not because he was speaking out against some interest group or idea, but because he spoke out against a black rapper.
John Cole, independently, agrees. He goes much further, though, listing 21 shopworn phrases he’d like to see banned from punditry and “challenge[s] anyone out there to find ten minutes of any of the various shows with the idiot talking heads without multiple infractions from the list.” Among his pet peeves are “flip-flop,” “Middle America,” “rock star,” and the “-gate” suffix.
Many of these are indeed verbal ticks. Still, they’re intellectual shorthand, which serve a useful function of condensing complex ideas into instantly understood phrases. Conversely, they can also hide a lack of insight or candor, as empty rhetoric that sounds, at first blush, like substantive analysis. Recall this classic scene from Bull Durham:
Crash Davis: You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: “We gotta play it one day at a time.”
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: Got to play… it’s pretty boring.
Crash Davis: ‘Course it’s boring, that’s the point. Write it down.
Distinguishing legitimate shorthand from obfuscation can be tricky.
One begins to suspect that there’s an element of discomfort with the context such phrases originated in, being a part of the political lexicon. Given the center-left angle on things at the blog, Publis’ complaint is fairly predictable. In the case of Publius’s Sister Souljah comments, the obvious reference is an infamous screwup of Bill Clinton’s making. Gee, no doubt why THAT’s an issue. Who wants to be reminded of such embarassments, and who particularly wants it to be engrained in the political lexicon forever?
Cole’s angle on this stuff is fairly predictable, too… each one of the phrases he finds issue with are ones that are most often used when discussing leftist candidates. Same comment, here.
Afterthough; Why no complaints from either of them about *gate being used that way? Perhaps because the original context of that phrase is a Republican Scandal?
Bithead, you look at the world through an interesting prism, because I fail to see how the list of hackneyed phrases apply mainly to “leftist” candidates. A review of the list, now up to 24:
Of those, I would submit that only #7 applies mainly to “leftist”candidates (and has since Dukakis). The rest, to include “Sister Souljah,” are used for pretty much everyone. Maybe you don’t remember Bush in 2000 and the commander in chief threshold and gravitas nonsense. I do. Many on the list, if anything, apply to things said about Republican candidates- see Maverick, my friends, comfortable in his own skin, would like to have a beer with, etc.
If you can show me how the rest of these are overused only in reference to “leftist” candidates, as opposed to all candidates from both parties, I would love it.
Additionally, “-gate” is #18.
Bit, you lost me on this:
What screwup are you talking about, since the “moment” is generally believed to have been a plus for Clinton?
John, if you don’t think flip flop, for example, applies to what the Democrats have been doing, it’s you, sir, who views the world through a prism.
A few others; Under the bus is a phrase that defines the Obama campaign, until recently. Each of those ‘under the bus’ exampels could be described as “Sister Souljah’ moments, given the about face on his core in each of the cases in question. References to Middle America are usually couched in statements about how Democrarts are disconnected from Middle America. Elitist is a label hung almost exclusively on Democrats. Homeland of course makes Demorats uncomfortable, because it implies borders language culture and the need to defend these. The current situation with Iraq is also a sticking point here.
And your point about 18 is well taken; I missed that. My bad.
Sam, I guess that depends on your angle. It was a plus in some ways, and hurt him with core groups. While Clinton’s statement about the recording was correct, in the end, it certainly was an about face. It also left a lot of blacks… the usual race pimps like Jesse Jackson, feeling stabbed in the back. (Oops, sorry, Cole)
As for “gravitas” wasn’t that bloody lightweight, Cuomo, to blame for that one? Irony abounds.
McCain and under the bus
Romney Middle America
Huckabee Middle America
McCain Middle America
Maybe on the websites you read and on Fox news, where you no doubt get your information, these terms only apply to Obama, but for the rest of us, these terms are overused for pretty much everyone. Do yourself a favor and look up selective exposure and selective perception.
Hell, you could write an entire Maureen Dowd column using the list I have provided above, and all you would need to do is add a few verbs and Sex in the City references.
Well, I suppose it did hurt him since he only got 83% of the black vote in the ’92 election.
True, that was a drop on the order of around 5% from what Dukakis got, in terms of percentage of the black vote.
I guess you could then say McCain’s throwing conservatives under the bus was a Sister Soulja moment.
I have another for that anti-intellectual thinking list, I’d like to hear less of. That is “Comprehensive immigration reform.” Until it’s defined with specifics, it still means “amnesty.”
Actually, a more reality based explanation is that this expression kind of rings of “fatherland” or “motherland”, expressions used by totalitarian regimes to whip up patriotic fervor and keep the sheep in line.
As for Democrats being prepared to defend our country, do you mean Democrats like Max Clelland? How many body parts have you lost fighting for your country bit? Do hangnails acquired by the fighting 101st keyboarders count?
Are you really an idiot? Or do you just play one on a blog?
Tell me Bit, do you Bushies ever get tired of trashing those who actually have served?
* Rick Noriega, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Texas — joined the U.S. Army in 1979; currently Lt. Colonel in Texas Army National Guard, served in Afghanistan. (1)
* Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) — rifle platoon and company commander with the Fifth Marine Regiment in the An Hoa Basin west of Danang; was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. (1)
* Representative Tim Walz, D-MN – Twenty-four years of service in the Army National Guard, retiring in 2005.
* Representative Joe Sestak, D-PA – 31 years of service in the Navy, rising to the rank of Vice Admiral.
* Representative Chris Carney, D-PA – Lieutenant Commander in the United States Naval Reserve, Carney served multiple tours overseas and was activated for Operation Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle, and Southern Watch.
* Representative Patrick Murphy, D-PA – extensive career in the U.S. Army from 1993-2004; earned Bronze Star and Presidential Unit Citation.
* Representative Phil Hare, D-IL – Served in the United States Army Reserve for six years.
* Representative Jack Murtha (D-PA) – distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, retired from the Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel in 1990. (1)
* Former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt – Missouri Air National Guard, 1965-71. (1, 2)
* Representative David Bonior – Staff Sgt., United States Air Force 1968-72 (1, 2)
* Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle – 1st Lt., U.S. Air Force SAC 1969-72 (1, 2)
* Former Vice President Al Gore – enlisted August 1969; sent to Vietnam January 1971 as an army journalist, assigned to the 20th Engineer Brigade headquartered at Bien Hoa, an airbase twenty miles northeast of Saigon. More facts about Gore’s Service
* Former Senator Bob Kerrey… Democrat… Lt. j.g., U.S. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam (1, 2)
* Senator Daniel Inouye, US Army 1943-’47; Medal of Honor, World War Two (1, 2)
* Senator John Kerry, Lt., U.S. Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three awards of the Purple Heart for his service in combat (1)
* Representative Charles Rangel, Staff Sgt., U.S. Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea (1, 2)
* Former Senator Max Cleland, Captain, U.S. Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam (1, 2)
* Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) – U.S. Army Reserve, 1968-1975.
* Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) – U.S. Army, 1951-1953. (1)
* Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) – Lt., U.S. Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74. (1, 2)
* Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) – U.S. Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91 (1)
* Former Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) – served as a U.S. Army officer in World War II, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons. (1)
* Representative Leonard Boswell (D-IA) – Lt. Col., U.S. Army 1956-76; two tours in Vietnam, two Distinguished Flying Crosses as a helicopter pilot, two Bronze Stars, and the Soldier’s Medal. (1, 2)
* Former Representative “Pete” Peterson, Air Force Captain, POW, Ambassador to Viet Nam, and recipient of the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit. (1, 2)
* Rep. Mike Thompson, D-CA: Staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, U.S. Army; was wounded and received a Purple Heart. (1, 2)
* Bill McBride, Democratic Candidate for Florida Governor – volunteered and served as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam; awarded Bronze Star with a combat “V.” (1)
* Gray Davis, former California Governor, Army Captain in Vietnam; received Bronze Star. (1)
* Pete Stark, D-CA, served in the Air Force 1955-57
* Wesley Clark, Democratic Presidential Candidate – 38-year career of public service in the Army, culminating as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.
* Representative Patrick McHenry, R-NC – did not serve.
* Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY – did not serve (1)
* Senate Assistant Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-MI – avoided the draft, did not serve.
* Senate Republican Conference Chairman Jon Kyl, R-AZ – did not serve.
* Senate Republican Conference Vice Chair John Cornyn, R-TX – did not serve.
* National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Ensign, R-NV – did not serve.
* House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-OH – did not serve.
* House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-MO – did not serve.
* House Republican Conerence Chair Adam Putnam, R-FL – did not serve.
* House Republican Policy Committee Thaddeus McCotter, R-MI – did not serve.
* National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Cole, R-OK – did not serve.
* Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani – did not serve.
* Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney – did not serve in the military but did serve the Mormon Church on a 30-month mission to France.
* Former Senator Fred Thompson – did not serve.
* Senator John McCain – McCain’s naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. Why did the Bush campaign smear him so in 2000? At least Senators Cleland (D-GA), Kerry (D-MA), Kerrey (D-NE), Robb (D-VA) and Hagel (R-NE) defended him.
* Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert – avoided the draft, did not serve.
* Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey – avoided the draft, did not serve.
* Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay – avoided the draft, did not serve (1).
* Former House Majority Whip Roy Blunt – did not serve
* Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist – did not serve.
* Rick Santorum, R-PA, formerly third ranking Republican in the Senate – did not serve. (1)
* George Felix Allen, former Republican Senator from Virginia – a supporter of Nixon and the Vietnam war, did not serve. (1)
True, to a point. First understand I’m not a big fan of McCain’s. With that in mind, the ‘to a point’ caveat is that I wonder if conservatives ever WERE his core.
It’s not their service at issue for the most part…(With the eception of people like Kerry, for example)
Are you just pulling a chimp-like tossing feces hoping something sticks?
Actually, none. But then again, neither did Clelland. He was in a rear areawhen he got hurt and essentially fell on his own ordinance while going for a beer. Or, did you forget that part?
Should he be honored for his service? No question, and I’ll be the first to say that. But forgive me if I don’t ascribe heroic status to his injury given how it was received. And I certainly hold no respect whatever for what he’s done to the country since then.
If you look at the history of words and language, you will find it is common for a buzzword or slang to lose it original meaning and evolve to something totally different. What is ironic is that there have been many words which end up taking on a completely different meaning because the people using it didn’t have a clue what it meant but it sounded nice.
One of my interests is finding the origination of words. Of course I can’t ignore the modern definition of words but does give insight in there meaning. The problem with words is they can take on many different meaning according to the person using them. That is one reason communication break down so often.
Look bit, just fill us in on your combat service and we can put the issue to rest. Until that happens, I want to know why you are trashing the millions of troops who have served our country and happen to be Democrats. Of course, you refer to them as “rats”.
Support the troops folks. Talk tough and wear a lapel pin.
And before the exriment storm starts, my statements are based on Clelland own words in the matter:
That’s why he never got a purple heart for his injury. I get more than a little tired of leftists like Anjin playing up the situaton, over-glorifying the story beyond even what Clelland himself would have you understand. All for their own political agendae.
Now, back to the subject at hand, shall we?
A good friend of mine used to say, “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” Think about that for a while.
Sure Bit, Just tell me how Silver Star combat vet Jim Webb is a “rat”, who is uncomfortable with the concept of defending America. Did you know Webb’s family has a history of service going back to the revolution? Or Bill McBride, who enlisted in the Marines, served in combat and wad awarded Bronze Star with a combat “V.”
Please explain to us how these men are “rats”…
If you don’t want to eat you words dude, engage your brain before you start typing.
Oh, and here is Webb’s Navy Cross citation if you want to read about how the folks who actually do fight for our country do it (as opposed to simply running ones mouth about it)
Webb received the Navy Cross for actions on July 10, 1969. The citation read:
“The Navy Cross is presented to James H. Webb, Jr., First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company D, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam.
On 10 July 1969, while participating in a company-sized search and destroy operation deep in hostile territory, First Lieutenant Webb’s platoon discovered a well-camouflaged bunker complex that appeared to be unoccupied. Deploying his men into defensive positions, First Lieutenant Webb was advancing to the first bunker when three enemy soldiers armed with hand grenades jumped out. Reacting instantly, he grabbed the closest man and, brandishing his .45 caliber pistol at the others, apprehended all three of the soldiers. Accompanied by one of his men, he then approached the second bunker and called for the enemy to surrender.
When the hostile soldiers failed to answer him and threw a grenade that detonated dangerously close to him, First Lieutenant Webb detonated a claymore mine in the bunker aperture, accounting for two enemy casualties and disclosing the entrance to a tunnel. Despite the smoke and debris from the explosion and the possibility of enemy soldiers hiding in the tunnel, he then conducted a thorough search that yielded several items of equipment and numerous documents containing valuable intelligence data. Continuing the assault, he approached a third bunker and was preparing to fire into it when the enemy threw another grenade. Observing the grenade land dangerously close to his companion, First Lieutenant Webb simultaneously fired his weapon at the enemy, pushed the Marine away from the grenade, and shielded him from the explosion with his own body. Although sustaining painful fragmentation wounds from the explosion, he managed to throw a grenade into the aperture and completely destroy the remaining bunker. By his courage, aggressive leadership, and selfless devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Webb upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
…of course if you would rather continue to talk about chimp poop, well, that is probably something you are qualified to discuss. Cause clearly fighting for your country and showing proper respect for the men who have done so is not a subject you are familiar with.
But what do I know? I am just a “leftist”…
And apparently incapable of reading. Again, It’s not their service at issue for the most part…(With the eception of people like Kerry, for example) It’s what they did after.
Get it, now?
There service is damn well at issue. Because they did serve, and you are disrespecting that service.
Your own words pal. Democrats are “rats” who are uncomfortable with the idea of defending our borders, culture and language. Please explain how Jim Webb is a “rat” and what he has done to show his discomfort with the idea of defending America.
Clearly the above statements, both made by you, do not reconcile…
What they did after? You mean like Webb serving as Secretary of the Navy under Reagan?
Ok I’ll bite. I am not sure of your point you meant to make. We use to have a saying in the military that say when in doubt kill the enemy, which was use basically to help someone from getting too confuse and to remember your ultimate goal .
Like in baseball one has to keep in mind the ultimate goals but to play the game at a high level, one has to know more than just the basics. There is much more to baseball than what you said. However any great athlete will tell you if you don’t pay attention to the basics and do them well, the rest won’t do you a lick of good.
Yes, they do. What you miss is that their actions afterward are not consistant with their service. And Webb, since you insist on bringing him up, is a fair enough example of what happens when political need over-rides and obliterates the motivations and understandings that caused them to put on the uniform.
Right, and you are the judge of this. Not the men who actually put their butts on the line. You.
Tell me bit, why do you live here? It is pretty clear that you despise the concepts of democracy, free thought, and respect for the opinions and beliefs of others.
Let’s talk about political action and need. Why is the Bush administration fighting to deny mental health benefits to Iraq and Afghanistan vets? This despite soaring numbers of mental health problems (such as suicide) among the very troops who are serving. Do you armchair tough guys just write this off to “this is war, men die in war”?
Way to support the troops fellas.
Got to to. I will leave you and the rest of the hot air brigade to watch to borders for a few hours…
Ok I’ll bite. I am not sure of your point you meant to make.
You might try Googling the quotation in my last post. It would clear up a lot.
My point, to the extent that I have one, is about clichÃ©s and kibuki theater. Divining the details is left as an exercise for the reader.
Yes! Me! Along with everybody else, of course. That’s what happens when you enter politics and ask for people to vote for you; such jusdgements get made… at least they get made by folks who want to use their vote wisely.
Tell me; why should I respect them any more than you respect mine?
Along the line of vague philosopher sayings who purpose is to stimulate thought process than actual wisdom. One of the points I drew from the article is people use them for the purpose of making themselves look wise when in fact they are clueless about what they are saying.
You throw a quote from a movie up and said think about it. OK you could be trying to make some of many different possible points from it or you could be one of those smug people who blow smoke in an attempt to look smart. Sound familiar? So I thought I would attempt to see if you have a clue of what your post. Saying research it yourself makes it sound like you are spewing BS and really didn’t have a point just trying to look smart. Article again.
Well, if you’d care to make a cogent case for something, I’d be more than happy to respect it. Instead, it seems that with you, everything is about insulting liberals and Democrats at every opportunity.
For example, Stephen Bainbridge has posted a number of articles that are critical of Obama, yet I continue to read his blog, and obviously respect his thoughts. Why? Because he treats his readers and political opponents as reasonably intelligent people, and doesn’t go out of his way to hurl petty insults at every opportunity.
Similarly with the Volokh Conspiracy.
Because I do not use moronic terms equvilant to “Demorats” or “Democrat” Party when I am referring to the GOP, perhaps?
Though I do not care for what the GOP has become during the era of the Bushes (the reason I left it), I do not question someones patriotism simply because they belong to the opposing party. I acknowlege that there are many fine people, such as Chuck Hegel (my first choice for president), in the GOP.
As for respecting your views? Really dude, how could anyone with a half-functioning brain do that? You don’t have any ideas, you just puke up warmed over dogma from Ann Coulter and the like…
OMG….Are you telling me that your all fired up over a TYPO? You gotta be kidding.
Good God, kid… drink a beer, walk around a little, huh? Go outside and see what the roses are doing.
When you get it working that well let me know.
You throw a quote from a movie up and said think about it.
Actually, I only did the first part. The entire post is in italics because the entire post is a quotation from the movie.
If it helps, just look upon my use of the quotation as (somewhat) snarky commentary on the tangent this thread went off on.
Of course thats a typo bit, thats why we see you use it in dozens of your posts.
A liar too. A real Bush man you are pal.
Lets see. We exchanged about a dozen posts yesterday relating to “how is it Democrats are rats”
If its a typo, why did you not simply say “that was a typo dude” instead of engaging in a series of posting that ran for half a day?
Did the dog eat your homework too, junior?
Well, I wondered where you were getting that from.
They ARE rats of course, but I hadn’t said it, far as I knew. I simply assumed you were making stuff up as you went along, just as usual.
Right. You exchanged all those posts and never said “what the hell is this stuff about rats”?
Thats a bit like Fox news going “oh gee, did we call Obama Osama? Oops!
So that leaves the equally infantile “democrat party” is that another typo, or are you just marching in lockstep?
WHen in discussion with someone who is foaming at the mouth, discussion of minutiae is seldom productive.
Oh, that’s no typo, nor is is infantile. Are you really having that much trouble getting your arms around it?
End of discussion.
Gosh. Are you going to hold your breath till you turn blue?
Interesting that you regard my position “combat vets should be treated with respect even if we don’t care for their political views” to be “foaming at the mouth”. Quite telling, in fact. But then we already knew that “support the troops” is just a slogan to your crowd.
You mean that you have all the maturity of a 13 year old? Nope, I see that.
Generally, among adults, we refer to people as they wish to be referred to. Its called having class.
If one of your co-workers wanted to be called “Smitty” and you constantly referred to him as “Twitty”, why you would probably get a poke in the nose eventually. But then we also know how very brave some guys are when they are hiding behind a computer 🙂
Now thats the end of the discussion…