Ugly Party vs. Grown-Up Party

Michael Gerson argues that the source of our polarization isn't the Democrats and the Republicans but the Ugly Party and the Grown-Up Party.

Michael Gerson is catching some predictable flak for his calling out of incivil discourse, particularly online in his column titled “The Ugly Party vs. the Grown-Up Party.”

My political friendships and sympathies are increasingly determined not by ideology but by methodology. One of the most significant divisions in American public life is not between the Democrats and the Republicans; it is between the Ugly Party and the Grown-Up Party.

That’s pretty much how my blog reading has bifurcated over the years.

This distinction came to mind in the case of Washington Post blogger David Weigel, who resigned last week after the leak of messages he wrote disparaging figures he covered. Weigel is, by most accounts, a bright, hardworking young man whose private communications should have been kept private. But the tone of the e-mails he posted on a liberal e-mail list is instructive. When Rush Limbaugh went to the hospital with chest pain, Weigel wrote, “I hope he fails.” Matt Drudge is an “amoral shut-in” who should “set himself on fire.” Opponents are referred to as “ratf — -ers” and “[expletive] moronic.”

This type of discourse is an odd combination between the snideness of the cool, mean kids in high school and the pettiness of Richard Nixon rambling on his tapes. Weigel did not intend his words to be public. But they display the defining characteristic of ugly politics — the dehumanization of political opponents.

While Weigel provides a good “hook” for an otherwise evergreen column, the example is at least a bit unfair.  There is, after all, a different standard for spouting off among friends and public pronouncements.   He goes on to list better examples:

Unlike Weigel, most members of the Ugly Party — liberal and conservative — have little interest in keeping their views private. “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh,” Ann Coulter once said, “is he did not go to the New York Times building.” Radio host Mike Malloy suggested that Glenn Beck “do the honorable thing and blow his brains out.” Conservatives carry signs at Obama rallies: “We Came Unarmed (This Time).” Liberals carried signs at Bush rallies: “Save Mother Earth, Kill Bush.” Says John Avlon, author of “Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America,” “If you only take offense when the president of your party is compared to Hitler, then you’re part of the problem.”

The rhetoric of the Ugly Party shares some common themes: urging the death or sexual humiliation of opponents or comparing a political enemy to vermin or diseases. It is not merely an adolescent form of political discourse; it encourages a certain political philosophy — a belief that rivals are somehow less than human, which undermines the idea of equality and the possibility of common purposes.

Quite. And it doesn’t have to be so blatantly ugly, either. While I was willing to give George Allen the benefit of the doubt on the “macaca” business, the thing that got obscured by the slinging of racial charges was Allen’s obviously canned “real America” business in the same exchange.  While jocular and clean, its spirit is divisive.

Such sentiments have always existed. But the unfiltered media — particularly the Internet — have provided both stage and spotlight. Now everyone can be Richard Nixon, threatening opponents and composing enemies lists.

But the Internet is also a permanent record, as Weigel found. His reaction to exposure was honest and admirable. He admitted to being “cocky” and “needlessly mean” — the kind of introspection that promises future contribution. But when members of the Ugly Party are exposed, generally they respond differently. Obscenity? The real obscenity is an unjust war, or imposing socialism or devotion to Israel. It is an argument that makes any deep policy disagreement an excuse for verbal violence. Or an offense against taste and judgment is dismissed as humor and satire.

More on this in a bit.

The alternative to the Ugly Party is the Grown-Up Party — less edgy and less hip. It is sometimes depicted on the left and on the right as an all-powerful media establishment, stifling creativity, freedom and dissent. The Grown-Up Party, in my experience, is more like a seminar at the Aspen Institute — presentation by David Broder, responses from E.J. Dionne Jr. and David Brooks — on the electoral implications of the energy debate. I am more comfortable in this party for a few reasons: because it is more responsible, more reliable and less likely to wish its opponents would die.

Of course, Broder, Dionne, and Brooks draw scorn from all sides.   Their own partisans consider them milquetoast and they get little credit for civility from their opponents.

Amusingly, Balloon Juice proprietor John Cole and co-blogger DougJ both take on the premise of Gerson’s column and their commenters proceed to demonstrate its veracity.    Doug says:

Supporting torture is fine, as long as it’s done politely at the Aspen Institute. But FSM forbid anyone should make a joke about Matt Drudge in a private email.

John concurs:

Sincere panels about the appropriateness of crushing a child’s testicles are acceptable and serious op-eds about the necessity for torture are welcome, but dropping an f-bomb on a private listserv is simply inexcusable and cause for a serious case of the vapors.

Not shockingly, both comment sections devolve into a string of vulgarity and ad hominem attacks.  I’ll spare you direct quotations.

For their part, John and Doug merely poison the well.  I oppose torture and have since I first gave the matter any significant thought, dating back to my days as a military cadet in the mid-1980s.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue about which one can’t have a serious debate.   And you can’t do that if both sides are merely questioning the decency or patriotism of the other.

Further, Gerson isn’t arguing that mere use of profanity puts one in the Ugly Party.  Instead, he couldn’t be more clear what he’s condemning (“urging the death or sexual humiliation of opponents or comparing a political enemy to vermin or diseases”) or why (“it encourages a certain political philosophy — a belief that rivals are somehow less than human, which undermines the idea of equality and the possibility of common purposes”).

While I’m perfectly happy with the polite blandness of the Broders and Brookses and Daniel Schorrs of the world, it’s possible to be edgy, profane, and even sarcastic without leaving the Grown-Up Party.  Perhaps the best examples going right now are Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who manage to be alternately silly, serious, informative, whimsical, naughty, noble, gracious, and withering.

Despite disagreeing with them more often than agreeing on the politics of the matter, I’m never uncomfortable watching their programs.  They pick targets who are their own size or bigger and poke fun at people’s actions and statements, not their character.  And they’re just as willing to direct their fire at Democrats behaving badly as Republicans.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Media, US Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. PD Shaw says:

    ” it’s possible to be edgy, profane, and even sarcastic without leaving the Grown-Up Party.”

    KEWL!!!

    (He says saracastically wondering why Congress has failed to outlaw waterboarding)

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    This might be a good point at which to trot out my posts on moderation in politics. As observed in Plato’s Republic, moderation is the virtue that makes democratic government possible.

  3. wr says:

    “Instead, he couldn’t be more clear what he’s condemning (“urging the death or sexual humiliation of opponents or comparing a political enemy to vermin or diseases”) or why (“it encourages a certain political philosophy — a belief that rivals are somehow less than human, which undermines the idea of equality and the possibility of common purposes”).”

    Except. of course, when he worked for the Bush administration he did exactly this — only he did it from a position in which it could be put into force. They acted as if their enemies were less than human, and thus felt free to torture and murder them. Gershon has real blood on his hands, but he feels free to castigate those who use harsh words.

    And that fact that torture is now “not an issue on which one can’t have a serious debate” is just evidence of how degraded the Bush adminstration left our national discourse.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Except. of course, when he worked for the Bush administration he did exactly this — only he did it from a position in which it could be put into force. They acted as if their enemies were less than human, and thus felt free to torture and murder them. Gershon has real blood on his hands, but he feels free to castigate those who use harsh words.

    First, that’s ad hominem. Whether he’s personally lived up to the standards he espouses says nothing about the value of those standards.

    Second, most of us recognize a different standard for international war and domestic politics. Killing one’s enemies is permissible in the former but not the latter. And demonization is not only normal it’s arguably necessary in war. And I say these things as someone with significant policy disagreements with Gershon.

  5. c.red says:

    I pretty much agree with everything you’re saying, but I feel the problem isn’t so much the language of attacks, so much as a general willingness to jump to conclusions and to only accept facts that support previously held positions. That is a position that is easy to fall into at anytime even for the most reasonable people.

    There also needs to be a willingness to step back when one crosses the line from disagreement into discourtesy and say “I apologize, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful” that we just don’t see very often.

    I generally doubt it is a new phenomenom rather than one that is much easier to see now that more people have access to wider audiences.

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    He will remain silent to protect those who think they are innocent…….

    Plus, he is having such a good time watching Obama blame others and say their ideas are stupid as the ******* from his city clap and lap it to have much time to ad hominem somebody’s *******.

  7. Sly says:

    “For their part, John and Doug merely poison the well. I oppose torture and have since I first gave the matter any significant thought, dating back to my days as a military cadet in the mid-1980s. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue about which one can’t have a serious debate. And you can’t do that if both sides are merely questioning the decency or patriotism of the other.”

    So if there was a specific organization that questioned the validity of laws against, say, child rape, are we as a society supposed to have a serious debate without questioning the decency of said organization? Or how about the validity of Federal laws against de jure racial segregation? Honor killings? Genocide? At what point does a civilization sufficiently “move on” from some barbaric practice and say to its constituent members, in effect, “No, we’re not having that debate anymore,” or does that simply not happen at all?

    Because a whole lot of people, myself included, thought such a collective decision was made with respect to torture. And I think we can scarcely be disparaged for that, what with such a decision being enshrined in law for centuries. I merely ask because if I now have to caution myself against thinking too badly, or badly at all, about members of NAMBLA or the Aryan Nations, I’d like to know. For civility’s sake, you understand, because I certainly wouldn’t want to be perceived as insufficiently grown-up by my betters.

    “While I’m perfectly happy with the polite blandness of the Broders and Brookses and Daniel Schorrs of the world, it’s possible to be edgy, profane, and even sarcastic without leaving the Grown-Up Party. ”

    If a tour through various media-critical blogs leaves you with the impression that the chief criticism against the Broders and Brookses of the world is that they are insufficiently edgy or sarcastic, I’m afraid you have more reading to do.

  8. quellcrist cavalli-sforza says:

    “it’s possible to be edgy, profane, and even sarcastic without leaving the Grown-Up Party.”
    no its not.
    You aren’t in the Grown-Up Party, you are in the Old People Party.

    You can’t get to cooltown on the conservative express anymore……it only goes to crazitown and the old folks home.

    You see, you seem to think you are making somesort of cognizant manners argument……but all we are hearing is HEY YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!

  9. john personna says:

    If this guy really did defend torture, and now faults bad words, I’d say the irony is running high.

    And it would misuse of the logic and reason to say that “ad hominem” prevents us from observing that irony. “ad hominem” is not meant to be a free pass.

    Indeed the best questions might involve what forms a civilized society: Can it torture? Can it curse? If it could only do one, which would you choose?

  10. john personna says:

    Shorter: Why don’t more people quote Adolf Hitler on Vegetarianism?

    (I mean, it would be “ad hominem” to bring up the whole genocide thing, right?)

  11. Herb says:

    A couple of Balloon Juicers above, I take it?

    At any rate…I’m skeptical of the either/or formulation myself. Grown-up party? Where? Snark is an equal-opportunity employer.

  12. handy says:

    The Grown-Up Party? Really? Is the same the same club as the hippie punchers known as the “Serious People?” Gee, ain’t it too bad that certain colorfol sentiments expressed “from the left” have offended Mr. Gershon’s delicate sensibilities. But I’m sure he’s well aware the stupid and profane runs across the entire political spectrum, and if the principle issue here is rudeness, then indeed we are a rather childish race altogether. But maybe he can champion the cause of another Republican who will domenstrate his compassionate conservativism by invading and occupying more countries that didn’t attack us on 9/11.

  13. quellcrist cavalli-sforza says:

    Well…the integral problem is that conservativism IS an inferiority complex masquerading as political philosophy, like Sanchez explained. So conservatives have to be treated dellllllicately or they won’t play. The truth is, a half century of memetic selection for a low-information base too dim to vote in their own economic self interest, and too undereducated and IQ limited to get ToE and basic cell biology, has resulted in a kind of selection for stupid.
    So yes, conservatives are not as smart…and they know it and it makes them RELLY touchy.
    This rule also applies to conservative pundits, who must be given welfare epics in the form of lower standards, mercy links, and their own private media or they cannot compete.
    🙂

  14. quellcrist cavalli-sforza says:

    A couple of Balloon Juicers above, I take it?

    yes Herb.
    mess with the koolkidz at your peril.

  15. wr says:

    Mr. Joyner — It’s not ad hominem at all. It’s a fact. He advocated for torturers. And I will not be lectured on manners by a man who believes it’s moral to crush a child’s testicles to make his father talk.

    (Granted, that particular incident came specifically from the brilliant legal mind of John Yoo, not Gershon, but it was Gershon’s job to defend the administration’s philosophy, and this was theirs.)

  16. Brummagem Joe says:

    Jim, it might assist your case for more civility if you could at least spell Michael Gerson’s name correctly….personally I think Gerson is a complete ass, a self confessed christian who favors torture a bit like Tomaso Torquemada used to do, provided it was all in good cause of course. There’s always been name calling in American politics but like much zany activity it’s moved from the fringe to the mainstream. Democrats and liberals aren’t without sin but at the end of the day you’d have to say the principal culprits are Republicans and Rupert Murdoch…..do you really see Dean Acheson or John Foster Dulles behaving like this……but they were “statesmen” you say….ok then Scotty Reston or Walter Lippman

  17. steve says:

    “Well…the integral problem is that conservativism IS an inferiority complex masquerading as political philosophy, like Sanchez explained.”

    Just write conservatives suck and skip the big words. You clearly are not interested in exchanging ideas, so keep it simple and short.

    Steve

  18. James Joyner says:

    Mr. Joyner — It’s not ad hominem at all. It’s a fact. He advocated for torturers. And I will not be lectured on manners by a man who believes it’s moral to crush a child’s testicles to make his father talk.

    That’s the very definition of ad hominem.

    Democrats and liberals aren’t without sin but at the end of the day you’d have to say the principal culprits are Republicans and Rupert Murdoch

    Gerson provides examples from both sides of the aisle. Is it more predominant from Republicans at the moment? Maybe. That may just be a function of being the Out party; certainly, we got plenty of the same screeching from the Left when Bush was in office.

  19. john personna says:

    No James. “Ad hominem” is not a get out of jail free card.

    If this guy truly(*) advocates for something abhorrent, and then sets himself up as a arbiter of what makes a civilized society … that is what we call germane.

    * – I don’t actually know the details of his torture position.

  20. G.A.Phillips says:

    Conservatives suck!!! um ah er um eeeeeeeee…….

  21. john personna says:

    Note: The only way I can think to make the torture thing not germane is to say that it is not something by which you judge societies and their sophistication.

  22. Janis Gore says:

    I was beaten up at Ann Althouse’s yesterday by a guy who styles himself “Seven Machos” because I had the temerity to suggest that a local newspaper has more influence than the New York Times or Washington Post on a small town.

    I was called an idiot, ignorant, and warned that I would have to raise my IQ to participate in the forum anymore.

    That’s thuggishness, and it goes on left and right.

    I thought it particularly interesting that Ms. Althouse is trying to do an alternate view of the Tea Party, and one of her commenters thinks so badly of a grassroots organ. But, that’s life in Blogville.

  23. john personna says:

    BTW, to tie back up to my previous (over the top) example: Vegetarianism may be fine, but do you blame me for not wanting to hear it from Hitler?

    I certainly love civil discourse, but I don’t really want to hear it from a torture booster (until such time as he recants and I forgive him).

  24. tom p says:

    ****I oppose torture and have since I first gave the matter any significant thought, dating back to my days as a military cadet in the mid-1980s. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue about which one can’t have a serious debate. ***

    James, just exactly how does one have a “serious debate” about torture? I mean, how do you keep a straight face? I don’t know about you, but every time I hear “ticking time bomb”, I lose it.

  25. Duracomm says:

    I think quellcrist cavalli-sforza is a troll.

    The clever use of misspelling while complaining about conservative stupidity is a subtle but well done tipoff.

  26. Crusty Dem says:

    Gerson’s column is an illogical train wreck. First off, Gerson starts by addressing Weigel, which is not of relevance to anything else in the article, for the obvious reason that without the outing of his private email, Gerson would certainly classify Weigel as part of the “Grown Up Party”. Calling upon Nixon is similarly counter the argument, as his public persona was mild. The distinction between “Grown Up” and “Ugly” outside the public sphere eliminates the usefulness of this distinction, as many public figures appear grown up, only later discovered to be truly, exceedingly ugly; but the distinction cannot be made without information not readily available. Thus, any number of “Grown Ups” could be secret members of the “Ugly”.

    Of course, the better question is why you and Gerson value politeness over content. For example, Matt Yglesias has always been respectful and avoided obscene language and ad hominem attacks, so is he a “grown up”? How about when he suggests displacing the Palestinian people and utilizing Israel’s power to destroy the Arab countries in the Middle East (http://yglesias.blogspot.com/2002_03_31_archive.html#11339052)? I would much rather hear obscene words defending sound ideas than the converse.

  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    Quellcrist is a character from sci fi. Cavalli-Sforza is a somewhat controversial geneticist.

    I think Duracomm’s got it.

  28. quellcrist cavalli-sforza says:

    Dura, i don’t DO spelling….im a math/physics major….and its just the intertubes, lawl.
    im not writing a dissertation…..not that conservatives could understand it.

    Steve, consider me a cognitive anthropologist of the conservative ….erm…..movement.
    That is why Weigel had to go……he hurt conservative fee-fees…he dissed them and he was supposed to be on the payroll.
    Respect is a huge dealio for the conservatives.
    Haven’t you heard?
    Let me lay it down for you…..”we conservatives are just as smart as you snotty scientists and academics and intellectual elites…….we are smart in a different way, a BETTER way!
    We are Godsmart.
    heh.

  29. quellcrist cavalli-sforza says:

    What is your definition of troll, Dura?
    Someone that points out truth?
    Fact– 94% of scientists are NOT republican.
    Fact– 70% of post baccs vote democratic.

  30. Crusty Dem says:

    You really want to call Jon Stewart a member of the grown up party?

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-april-20-2010/bernie-goldberg-fires-back

  31. TangoMan says:

    What is your definition of troll, Dura?
    Someone that points out truth?
    Fact– 94% of scientists are NOT republican.
    Fact– 70% of post baccs vote democratic.

    You’d have to be some variant of idiot to believe that there is causality at work here. Secondly, I know plenty of scientists and I wouldn’t hold up scientists as being the most sensible, well-rounded and informed of our citizens. Nozick explained pretty persuasively why so much of the academy is liberal.

    The last time I looked this was the breakdown. Liberals are a party which combines the a disproportionate share of the sharpest and the dullest knives in the drawer. Notice the 20 percentage point gap in high school drop-outs compared to the 8 percentage point gap in post graduate degree holders. If you’re looking to characterize your party by appealing to Democratic Party dominance over a population segment, then the most fair portrayal would be that the Democrats are the party of the uneducated.

    Exit polls from the 2000 election

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Dems . . . Repub
    * No H.S. Degree – – – – – – – -59% . . . 39%
    * High School Graduate – -48% . . . 49%
    * Some College – – – – – – – – – -45% . . . 51%
    * College Graduate – – – – – -45% . . . 51%
    * Post-Graduate Degree – -52% . . . 44%

  32. James Joyner says:

    John P: No James. “Ad hominem” is not a get out of jail free card.

    If this guy truly(*) advocates for something abhorrent, and then sets himself up as a arbiter of what makes a civilized society … that is what we call germane.

    He’s not making himself the arbiter, he’s drawing distinctions to spark debate. Regardless, leave Gerson aside. I’m making the argument, with some differences noted in the piece, and crediting Gerson for sparking it.

    Tom P: James, just exactly how does one have a “serious debate” about torture? I mean, how do you keep a straight face?

    You start by recognizing that those on the other side of the debate aren’t sadists but rather trying to gain valuable information to protect their fellow citizens from demonstrable harm. You recognize that there are trade-offs and decide whether they are worth it. You discuss evidence as to how well torture actually works. If torture has been shown to work in particular cases, you further differentiate based on technique.

    At the end of all that, you might conclude that — and this is purely hypothetical — say, sleep deprivation up to 3 days or some forms of verbal abuse are acceptable with certain levels of terrorist suspects believed to have certain levels of information but that there are no circumstances under which it is acceptable to crush the testicles of an innocent child to extract information from his father.

    Crusty Dem: The distinction between “Grown Up” and “Ugly” outside the public sphere eliminates the usefulness of this distinction, as many public figures appear grown up, only later discovered to be truly, exceedingly ugly; but the distinction cannot be made without information not readily available.

    I allude to that in my discussion of Weigel and elsewhere above but, yes, that’s precisely right.

  33. quellcrist cavalli-sforza says:

    Orly?
    10 year old data? lawl, tangoman, check the trend.
    heres some 2008 data.
    See a trend?

    “The 1980 figure is extrapolated based on Jimmy Carter’s performance among all college graduates. Carter won only 35 percent of college graduates in 1980, but Democrats have generally performed better among those with postgraduate educations than those with “just” a college degree; we estimate Carter’s share of the postgraduate vote was 40 percent. ”
    scientists don’t count is Tangomans other argument. lol, they do count. who teaches in unis? teaching research scientists and post-baccs.
    Where do young intellectual conservatives come from if academe is painted blue?
    and not just academe…the leading wave of culture.

    Let’s be honest, Mr. Joyner….see the slope of the curve? how do conservatives reverse that?
    they can’t, can they?
    Its the young intelligent party vs the old stupid party, breaking on IQ and age, not politesse and discourse manners..
    That is how you got tagged with the teabagger meme….people in my demographic dont think of Boston and funky hats when we hear the word ‘tea’…..we think of teabagging our fallen comrades in video games.
    Conservatism is a zombie culture that no longer mirrors the electorate..
    Check out Murray’s graphs.
    the intellectual uppers are all liberal.
    “Intellectual Upper: Also at the 95th percentile of income and with a graduate degree, but a lawyer, academic, scientist (hard or soft) outside academia, writer, in the news media, or a creator of entertainment programming (film and television).”
    Who are the culture creators?
    Intellectual uppers.
    Who are culture consumers?
    everyone else.
    The pinnacle of evolution is self deprecating humor….conservatism is bereft of that. That is why Gerson is all butthurt over Weigel, and why people like this aren’t laffed off the public stage.

    Like I said, you can’t get to cooltown on the conservative express anymore….it only goes to crazytown and the old folks home.

  34. john personna says:

    You start by recognizing that those on the other side of the debate aren’t sadists but rather trying to gain valuable information to protect their fellow citizens from demonstrable harm. You recognize that there are trade-offs and decide whether they are worth it. You discuss evidence as to how well torture actually works. If torture has been shown to work in particular cases, you further differentiate based on technique.

    The sad thing there is that it abandons the bright clean line, discards moral abhorrence, and makes torture simply a practical choice of policy. If we discard the xenophobia aspect as well. it draws back up the question of why we don’t allow our police to “get rough?”

    I mean, if it works, and it protects the public … right?

  35. quellcrist cavalli-sforza says:

    Joyner, its all about teh respect isn’t it?
    The pinnacle of evolution is self-deprecating humor.
    Conservatives have none of that.
    That is why the most godawful batshit crazy memes have to be given equal time, like Barber and the birthers.
    The conservative base has been memetically down-selected for 50 years for people too dumb to vote in their own economic self-interest, to be anti-intellectual, anti-science, and anti-education.
    This is the result….the “low-information” base believes crazy stupid stuff. And they think they are ENTITLED to believe it, because their lying manipulative masters (like you) told them they are making commonsense and deserve to have their views heard, no matter how insanely WRONG they are.
    That is why Gerson is all butthurt over Weigel…not because Weigel was “uncivil”—but because Weigel righteously mocked conservatives for being stupid/and/or/crazy. We are all supposed not to notice teh crazypants.
    That is why Palin and Angle, etc. can’t have open pressers……not because the MSM treats them unfairly—but because the MSM treats them like everyone else and calls out the crazy and mocks them.
    It all boils down to conservatives wanting preferential treatment because they aren’t as smart—its like genetic bussing for the IQchallenged, or affirmative action for insane people.

  36. Crusty Dem says:

    Crusty Dem: The distinction between “Grown Up” and “Ugly” outside the public sphere eliminates the usefulness of this distinction, as many public figures appear grown up, only later discovered to be truly, exceedingly ugly; but the distinction cannot be made without information not readily available.

    I allude to that in my discussion of Weigel and elsewhere above but, yes, that’s precisely right.

    Well then, what is the point of wasting time on something absurd? I believe that John and Doug at Balloon Juice have it exactly right and that what you and Gerson are engaging in here is simply large-scale ad hominem against people who use language of which you don’t approve. At least their ad hominem is based on something substantial (advocacy for torture, desire for endless war, etc), rather than “vulgarity”.

  37. James Joyner says:

    Well then, what is the point of wasting time on something absurd?

    Gerson is obviously using the Weigel thing as a hook, because it’s in the news, to make his argument timely. I think it distracts from his better argument, which involve the likes of Coulter, Beck, Olbermann, et.al.

    I believe that John and Doug at Balloon Juice have it exactly right and that what you and Gerson are engaging in here is simply large-scale ad hominem against people who use language of which you don’t approve.

    I don’t understand the fixation on the cursing. The argument is about respectful dialogue, which is only tangentially related to bad language.

  38. quellcrist cavalli-sforza, is that you nishi?

  39. quellcrist cavalli-sforza says:

    Joyner, the whole problem with you and Gerson, is that respectful dialog with crazy, stupid, and/or just evil people is impossible…like Barber, like Beck, like Jonah Goldberg and Andy McCarthy even.
    call it like it is and you can have MY respect.
    keep up the weasel wording and pretending and you are just going to get what you deserve.
    extinction.

  40. quellcrist cavalli-sforza says:

    yes Charles…….but my real name is Legion.
    😉