Friday, August 19, 2005

A Nut Job, By Any Other Name, is Still a Nut Job

Now, to the work at hand, it appears some people took offense to the nut-job label I applied to the grieving mother in the comments to that post. Professor Vic had this to say:

“Hatch is showing all of the great people skills exhibited by President Bush by calling a grieving mother a "nut job." It's just plain poor taste on both Bush's and Hatch's part, and it's what has Bush's approval ratings about Iraq in the 30s.

Bush needs to pull a Clinton, invite her in for tea, and tell her he "feels her pain." My own opinions aside, I'm not saying that Bush should change his policies on Iraq based on one angry parent, but neither Bush nor Hatch are doing anything to help the cause in Iraq by ignoring or slandering the victims of the war.”

Professor Vic had me confused at first. When he said Bush should have pulled a Clinton, I thought he meant she should start groping and sexually assaulting the poor woman in her grief, much as Clinton did days after Kathleen Willey’s husband committed suicide. Now that would have been in poor taste.

I must say as well that I was very flattered by the status the Professor implicitly attached to my blog, crediting it along with Bush's behavior for national opinion polls. I can see the NYT headline now: "Obscure Nut Job Blogger with a Dozen Loyal Readers Insults Saint Cindy, Hurts War Effort."

Now, “nut job” is not the most sensitive term for a person who is mentally unstable, I’ll admit, but my presumption that she is mentally ill is the most kind assumption I could make given her behavior. And a nut job, by any other name, is still a nut job. Moreover, in everything I’ve read about this lady that has been critical, each author has felt obliged to spend 2 sentences proving his emotional correctness by saying "I feel bad for her for losing her son, bla bla bla." Who doesn’t? One shouldn’t have to preface criticism of behavior with an excuse for the behavior. She's not the first woman to have a son die in a war, but she is the first to basically say that the President is as responsible for her son's death as he would be if he invited her son into the Oval Office and shot him in cold blood. To me, that is beyond the pale. I suspect the President feels the same, and that Professor Vic would feel the same if someone were blurring moral distinctions in an insane manner intended to say he is no better than a murdering thug.

Bush has met with this woman (as Incredible Dirigible points out), and she had glowing things to say in the aftermath of that meeting. So he obviously hasn't ignored her as a victim of the war. Her tune has obviously changed. Now, she has publicly said he is the biggest terrorist in the world, that our country is not worth dying for, etc. If she was a man it would be excusable for Bush to invite him into the ranch and then kick his ass. He still has the class not to call her a nut job, so he hasn't slandered her at all, which is to his everlasting credit.

As to whether I slandered her or not, let's explore the notion that she is not mentally ill for a moment to see whether I could have described her in kinder terms. If that is the case, than she is either dumb as a post and cannot make simple moral distinctions, or she assumes the worst possible motives inspire a man she does not know - which is rather less charitable than me calling her a nut job. Furthermore, she could be credibly accused of exploiting her own son's death for her own purposes in a rather maudlin and classless display. So if she has her senses together and is not dumb as a post, then she is a colossal b*#@&. Forced to choose between her being a nut job, a simpleton, or a colossal b*#@&, I chose the best of the three much to my credit, principally because I am not a colossal b%$@*^@.

What is noteworthy in all of this is that, if I were running a major news organization, I would have come to these same conclusions on day 1 of her little show. And, understanding that the probabilities are such that at least one slain soldier would have a nut job for a mom, I would not see it as a major priority of the news to show the whole world she's a nut job day after day after day. She has nothing of substance to say and she has already been given what she's asked for. Now, ask yourself this, would she still be there if the cameras never came? My guess is no way, and that to me says a lot about her as a mother. The only people who can help her in her grieving process are the press, who can only do so by ignoring her. But even then she'll still have the rest of the nut-jobs who perpetually protest America lapping up her every word, so she'll always be the most popular patient in that particular traveling psychiatric ward. She'll be a nut job's nut job, so to speak.


Blogger Professor Vic said...

Fair enough criticism of "Saint Cindy," and I tend to agree with much of it. But as Hatch points out, after 1800+ deaths, you are bound to have at least one "nut job" (Hatch's term, not mine obviously) grieving parent. So, knowing you have people like this, and having lost a child in Iraq, "Saint Cindy" speaks with a level of moral authority that 99% of Americans can't muster, how does one properly deal with the criticism?

One can attack like Hatch and kill the messenger. You can ignore like Bush and have "Saint Cindy" become a magnet for all criticism about the war. Or you can pull a Clinton (the "feel you pain" kind, not the "feel your breasts" kind) and visibly show that you respect the sacrifices that some have made.

In a democratic country you lose wars when they become unpopular. Part of the battle, then, is winning the public relations battle as well and the military battle. (Of course, they do, in part, go hand in hand.)

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Jim O said...

If Bush HAS met with her, why is she still being portrayed as wanting only to meet with Bush?

Isn't this story now over?

Or has her mission now morphed into something else? And if she is now saying things like "...Bush is the biggest terrorist...", what makes her different from all of the other protesters?


6:46 AM  
Blogger pbryon said...

Building on Professor Vic's comments about the PR battle, one of the things that makes this so intersting (to me at least), is the current circumstances. We're at war, her son died at war, and the President is on a 5-week vacation. This clearly wouldn't be playing out like this if Bush were in Washington.

And for the record, I belive she has every right to say what she wants, but she's really in danger of losing her message if she aligns herself with groups like MoveOn. For her to be most effective, she needs to be a grieving mother looking for answers, and nothing more.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

I completely agree with PBryon. Her moral authority extends only to the high costs of the war on Iraq. She certainly doesn't have anything to say about Gaza, for example, that is worth reporting on the nightly news.

There is an alarming tendency for people who get the spotlight for one area of expertise to then think they know everything about everything and feel people should listen to them about any subject.

Outside the obvious cases of actors and athletes, several prominent economists who think they know everything about politics as well come to mind (like Paul Krugman, Hatch, and Professor Vic.)

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One comment on pbryon's note that the President is on a 5-week vacation. It's not like a real vacation you know...he isn't hanging out with the Superstar at the beach or renting movies or visiting Mickey Mouse. His vacation is probably alot like our regular work week, but with better food preparation. So in my view that little part doesn't really matter.

9:50 AM  
Blogger pbryon said...

I didn't say it to disparage his working vacation. I just meant to say that if he was in Washington, she would most likely have gotten drowned out by all the other protesters that spend their days in Washington.

I don't think she would have found nearly as much coverage had she been camped out in DC instead of Crawford.

It also leads to the inevitable questions about the President taking a "vacation" when we're at war, even if it isn't a vacation in the traditional sense of the word.

Should Bush people have seen something like this coming? Who knows. But her being there has certainly slowed the distribution of the traditional footage of GWB clearing brush and chopping wood.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Clupbert said...

I thought it was well said. I think she is the colossal bitch option personally. She knows she is being ridiculous and not logical, yet she wants attention or to feel better about herself.

1:40 PM  

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