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February 10, 2010
A brief history of stupidBy Greyhawk
Here's a good look at Sarah Palin from the left. It's fair and accurate - for the most part because Taylor Marsh doesn't start from the premise that Sarah Palin is stupid.
And that premise is the foundation upon which opposition to Palin is built, and has been since the day John McCain (whose non-stupid identity was well established on a national scene) introduced her to the lower 48. One can, as Ms Marsh does, detect a note of sexism in that (and certainly for many of Palin's detractors it's authentic), but it's also a demonstration of equal opportunity in action. She is being treated exactly as George Bush was for most of his eight years in office, throughout which the foundation of every opposition complaint was that Bush is stupid.
Drop back a few years and you'll recall that the foundation of every opposition attack on Ronald Reagan was Ronald Reagan is stupid. (In his case blamed in part on his advanced years.) The stupid meme skipped his successor (George Bush*, who, in an ironic - because he was anything but - change of pace was derisively labeled a "wimp") but was applied vigorously to his vice president Dan Quayle.
Those my age will recall the knock on Gerald Ford. For you youngsters out there here's the short version: Ford is stupid.
I guess some jokes never get old. (Chase would later explain: "obviously my leanings were Democratic and I wanted [Jimmy] Carter in and I wanted [Ford] out, and I figured look, we're reaching millions of people every weekend, why not do it." And in fairness, Saturday Night Live ridiculed all presidents - here they are making fun of how intelligent, hip, personable and plugged-in - but still a folksy, regular guy - Jimmy Carter was.)
That's all in the past - in our modern, high-speed, cable TV/internet era you can't always wait for Saturday night to get your message out.
While it's before my time, if you want an origin of that stupid label it could be in the realization that identifying the Democrat candidate as the intellectual choice was insufficiently persuasive to voters - a lesson certainly learned in the 1950's when that was the definitive argument presented by Adlai Stevenson in his campaigns against Dwight Eisenhower (a man whose war hero status - even more so than McCain - rendered him stupid-proof). While that "intellectual" persona has never been abandoned by Democrats (it's always rather subtly spun as "gosh, do you think voters will reject Gore/Kerry/Obama because he's so incredibly intelligent?") the lesson learned from that era was that you needed something a bit less subtle to convince (presumably stupid) voters that your opponent was stupid. Labeling your opponent as "stupid" seemed the most effective choice.
So there you have it. With subtle variations on the theme (stupid girl, stupid hick, stupid pretty boy, stupid old man, stupid klutz) "stupid" has been the favored Democratic response to Republicans for nearly four decades now. As the first female to earn that level of attention (and fear) from Democrats, Sarah Palin has broken another glass ceiling.
*Upon further review: it didn't completely skip George Bush - Bill Clinton's "it's the economy, STUPID" may have been one of the most successful campaign themes in history.
Okay kids, one more (this time non-comedy) history video, but then it's nap time.
And remember: when confronted with bardus maximus, primum non bardus is the only response.
Posted by Greyhawk / February 10, 2010 11:37 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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