Words I'm Bored with Include…

Obamaniac

Billary

Snobama

Elephascist

McSame

etc.

If you have a good argument, then make it. These phrases just make you seem juvenile.

Frankly, I feel the same way about illustrating negative comment on a candidate with the most unflattering picture you can find. Don’t we generally complain that too MUCH emphasis is placed on candidate’s appearances and irrelevant characteristics? Running a picture of a sneering McCain or Hilary with a distorted expression is the equivalent of running a long series of footage about Bush looking cowboyish on the ranch. It’s a non-sequiteur, designed to appeal to visceral likes or dislikes apart from the actual substance of the quote you’re criticizing (or, in the case of the cowboy footage, the masculinity narrative you’re underlining).

If that’s actually what you want to do — just produce propaganda to make people’s visceral reactions more distinct, and allow that level of discourse to take a prominent role in your blog or debate — then I guess that’s fine to an extent. It’s not a good argument, but sometimes debates are won by bad arguments, and if you feel it’s totally necessary, then I guess I can swing with that.

But I hope you realize that’s what you’re doing. And also that it seriously undermines your ability to be outraged when it turns out that the media and your opponents use visual images in the same way.

(Places I feel do this include — but are not limited to — Pandagon (usually Pam) and Shakesville (often Melissa). I like both blogs a lot, but this use of visual imagery nettles me.)

UPDATE: I also see the use of derisive nicknames in comments at both Pandagon and Shakesville. It irritates me a lot. I see from the comment thread that inspired me to make this post that it’s not thrilling Portly Dyke either. She writes in response to a commenter who repeatedly refers to Snobama:

IBW — I’ve defended you on this thread, and sided with you many times — but I’d really appreciate it if you cut out the “Snobama” thing. I don’t like it when people call Clinton “Billary”, and I don’t like it when people think up cutesy, derisive names for Obama either. I know that you can do as you wish in this regard, but I notice that it’s been grating on me a bit in this thread.

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28 Responses to Words I'm Bored with Include…

  1. Thank you for saying this. I must admit to some culpability on at least the gestalt level myself because I, too, at one time was all too willing and eager to pick up on these names.

    And maybe it would be different if the use of them would actually stimulate thought and discussion. Since thought and discussion have largely passed out of fashion, though, they simply become about as shallow as a bumper sticker, and become these little flags people fly to indicated how steeped in the clever they are these days.

    I’ve tried to reform myself a bit … it’s hard not to think of McCain as “McSame”, because the name does indeed encapsulate what a McCain presidency would mean to this country. But “Billary?” … no point in that one. That was new in … what, 1992? Using the name “Billary” indicates that you need to work harder to keep up.

    Anyway, I seem to be digressing here. Suffice it to say that I agree with you, and I find it grating too.

  2. 2
    Myca says:

    Completely leaving aside any political implications, and just judging these words on their aesthetic merits, I totally totally totally agree.

    —Myca

  3. 3
    Daran says:

    The first place I saw three of these words was in this post. I’m already bored with them.

    In other news, it looks like the right-wing has decided that Obama has already won the Democratic nomination.

  4. 4
    Crys T says:

    I agree that all the name-calling was tedious months ago. But I have to admit that when I saw the term “Hilbama” it did make me laugh.

    But then again, I still don’t get why anyone feels that either Obama or Clinton is worth getting excited over.

  5. 5
    FurryCatHerder says:

    My favorite word that I’m not at all bored with is “Obamanos”.

    Says at all. I want me one.

  6. 6
    Daran says:

    I still don’t get why anyone feels that either Obama or Clinton is worth getting excited over.

    They’re not McCain.

  7. They’re not McCain.

    Yeah. Works for me.

    That we hang our hopes on such … that’s life, mah peoples.

  8. 8
    ms_xeno says:

    …I still don’t get why anyone feels that either Obama or Clinton is worth getting excited over…

    For You, dear Crys.

    Swiped from here.

  9. 9
    Emily says:

    Did anyone see the (really big) picture of Obama and McCain in the Sunday Washington Post? (I think it was the front page of the Style & Arts section) To me at least, it really looks like Obama is poised to punch McCain (which is obviously not what was happening), along with a headline about which one of them can “take” the other. I thought it was kind of out of line, but I wonder what others think.

  10. 10
    Dianne says:

    …I still don’t get why anyone feels that either Obama or Clinton is worth getting excited over…

    If either is elected then we have the first non-white or non-male president ever in the US. That seems pretty exciting to me. Neither is the great liberal hope, but so what? Look at the first woman PM of Britain: Margaret Thatcher. Or the first Kanzlerin of Germany: Angela Merkel. Or Pym Furtuyn. Right wingers, all of them. The first “non-standard” leader generally is a conservative. Clinton or Obama would be fine and the precedent exciting. The next woman or black or non-Christian or openly gay candidate to run may be more interesting politically, but they will only be taken seriously if one of the relatively conservative current candidates wins.

  11. 11
    Daran says:

    but they will only be taken seriously if one of the relatively conservative current candidates wins.

    There is another possibility – that over a period of time, public attitudes shift sufficiently that the issue becomes a non-issue, without there ever having been a trailblazer. I think that would be the case now in the UK if an openly gay candidate were to stand for leadership to one of the major parties, and consequently for MP. There have been several gay cabinet and shadow cabinet ministers already, and nobody particularly cares.

  12. 12
    Dianne says:

    I think that would be the case now in the UK if an openly gay candidate were to stand for leadership to one of the major parties, and consequently for MP. There have been several gay cabinet and shadow cabinet ministers already, and nobody particularly cares.

    It’s hard to say without an example to test…no one makes too much of a fuss about minorities, women, or non-Christians being in the legislature or cabinet in the US, but the presidency is different. (I think an openly gay candidate would also have trouble in some areas of the US, although I may be misreading relative levels of what people get excited about.) So people in the UK may be ok with gay cabinet members but not a gay PM. And, assuming they are ok with a gay PM, would they have been without Thatcher to demonstrate that the world didn’t end if they elected a non-standard candidate? (Non-rhetorical question: I don’t know whether Thatcher made any difference or not in that sense.)

  13. 13
    Dianne says:

    Sorry, I seem to have gotten caught up in my own question…Does anyone know if there is any systematic evidence as to whether having a national leader of the “undesirable” type (whether undesirable because of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or some other factor) leads to wider acceptance of people of the undesirable type and/or other undesirable types in government and/or society?

    To give a specific scenario suppose the race were down to Clinton versus Edwards instead of Obama versus Clinton. Suppose further that you thought that Edwards was the slightly more desirable candidate based on probable policies and/or ability to govern. Would it be worth voting for Clinton anyway, because of the possible side benefits of improved integration of women and minorities into government as a result of her example?

  14. 14
    Kevin Moore says:

    Don’t forget “Obamabot”! I’m doing a cartoon on that one for Thursday.

    I tend to agree with Mandolin about the not-so-clever names of derision- especially about “Billary” – but I disagree about the use of images to illustrate a point or to reflect a feeling about someone. Yes, it is visceral, and as such beyond (or below) the rational; but I don’t discount the visceral as an absolutely invalid means of judging a candidate. My first reaction to Mitt Romney was visceral: “That dude is bullshitting me.” I felt the same way about 1992 candidate Bill Clinton: “Who is this Republican Lite?” So finding imagery that reflect qualities of the candidate that one finds irritating about them can be a fun part of engaging in the debate.

    Granted, I draw political caricatures, so my eye is atuned to such things. What I try to avoid, however, is the easy cliche’ – Bush in cowboy boots, even if it fits his cowboy imperialist swagger. In the early years I prefered representing him as a doofus king, using various medieval imagery. Given his love of waterboarding, not very inaccurate, really.

  15. 15
    RonF says:

    Dianne, you view Barak Obama as relatively conservative? Relative to what?

    Daran:

    In other news, it looks like the right-wing has decided that Obama has already won the Democratic nomination.

    I don’t think that’s particularly limited to right-wing commentators.

    Kevin: “Obamabot”? Hadn’t heard that one. I would have thought that had been worn out by the left-wing’s use of “Bushbot”.

  16. 16
    RonF says:

    Then there’s “Hildabeast” and “She Who Must Not Be Named” (I wonder if the latter was cribbed from Rumpole of the Bailey?). As well as using “Osama” instead of “Obama” for his last name.

  17. 17
    Dianne says:

    Dianne, you view Barak Obama as relatively conservative? Relative to what?

    Me. I am, of course, a moderate and Obama is more conservative than me, therefore he is a conservative;-).

    He also appears somewhat more conservative than Edwards and maybe Richardson (though he dropped too soon to tell.) None of the major democrats were seriously liberal, though.

  18. 18
    Dianne says:

    I wonder if the latter was cribbed from Rumpole of the Bailey?

    Probably from the Harry Potter series…wasn’t the Rumpole phrase “she who must be obeyed”?

  19. 19
    tom says:

    Hmm, good point on the exaggerated photos. I thought about it while reading this post on Hillary Clinton, but I’m still not sure, given the post’s content, if it’s of the objectionable sort or not:

    Overlook Clinton’s Whiteness

  20. 20
    Bjartmarr says:

    Okay, okay, but “McThuselah” is actually funny. And it does make a point — that this guy is old enough that we should probably be more concerned about his veep’s opinions than his.

  21. 21
    Daran says:

    wasn’t the Rumpole phrase “she who must be obeyed”?

    It might have, been, but it didn’t originate with him.

  22. 22
    Stentor says:

    “Obamabot”? Hadn’t heard that one. I would have thought that had been worn out by the left-wing’s use of “Bushbot”.

    Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve heard the term “Bushbot,” whereas I’ve heard “Obamabot” countless times. I’d also never heard “Snobama,” and it took me a few minutes with Google to even figure out what it was supposed to mean.

  23. 23
    Ampersand says:

    Along similar lines, I’m tired of those who don’t like Obama calling him “Barry.” And those who don’t like Clinton referring to her as “The Clintons.”

  24. 24
    RonF says:

    Stentor, I think that “Bushbot” had currency during his first term on the left – it’s not used so much these days, as there are few uncritical supporters of President Bush now. Whereas my first encounter with “Obamabot” was this thread.

    Amp – there’s also “Clintoon” or “Klintoon”.

  25. 25
    SMM says:

    Drink a full bottle of coke and then belch out “Baraaaak Obama”

    Is that cool or what?

    No value statement is intended here in any way, it’s just that it’s so hard to find things that work these days!

  26. 26
    Mandolin says:

    Hmm, the picture of Hilary drinking from the wine glass doesn’t strike me as particularly unflattering. I’m thinking more pictures like this or this.

  27. 27
    Crys T says:

    Thanks, ms xeno: that perfectly illustrated how this whole thing looks to me.

    To others who responded to my comment: OK, I can see why getting a woman or African-American president would be a big deal, even if that particular candidate is pretty far right. However, when you do point out examples like Maragaret Thatcher, I have to respond that, yeah, the UK had a female PM. That one time. (And anyway, the whole PM thing is different because here you vote for the party (though ok, the party leader is pretty decisive for a lot of voters), and the party leader can change mid-term, as you’ve seen with Gordon Brown taking over from Blair.)

    My point is this: if the only women or African-Americans who will ever be elect-able are the conservative, right-wing ones, what is the point? To get a mild moral victory? I don’t see that Maggie made the UK a particularly woman-friendly place to be, in any way. And her success certainly didn’t open the door to other women being party leaders of the main parties.

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