Angry Old White Man Angrily Denounces Angry Old White Men
The fantastic Ricochet team has gotten the College Feed up and running again, and I thought it might be fun to celebrate by taking a quick trip down memory lane.
Think back to Summer 2008. Polls were consistently forecasting that then-Senator Obama was likely to claim a massive share of youth and minority support in the fall election. And Senator Mitch McConnell, as we will all recall, stood on the Senate floor in July and vocally denounced Obama's growing coalition as "a bunch of angry young blacks who are trying to overrun America."
Oh, wait. Never mind. That didn't happen, because that would be insane. Such a crass and demeaning generalization would have offended all Americans' sensibilities, and would certainly not have earned applause from any mainstream conservatives. And that statement would have been pounced on and torn apart by the mainstream media like a wounded gazelle on the Serengeti.
Surely, then, we can count on the media and our friends on the Left to proffer a similarly full-throated denunciation of the perfectly parallel invective recently spouted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
[Reid] says a group of "angry old white men" is bankrolling conservative outside groups that are spending millions to influence the fall elections.
"If this flood of outside money continues, the day after the election, 17 angry old white men will wake up and realize they've just bought the country," Reid said on the floor. "That's a sad commentary."
But we should not, of course, hold our breath. Nothing like the condemnations such garbage would engender in a fair, good-faith political dialogue will be forthcoming. Liberal blogs' comment sections and social media timelines are overflowing with "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" cheerleading, and all the supposedly more reputable NPR could muster was an amused eyeroll and a knowing smile:
In a world of highly calibrated political messaging, it would be difficult to find a politician less likely to deliver safe, poll-tested lines than Reid
There he goes again! A straight shooter even when he should know better, God bless him. Please. Senator Reid is propagating a socioeconomic and racial caricature to further his political agenda. The older, white, uninformed conservative who hates the foreigners and the ethnic folk – a "bitter clinger," you could say – is a blatant stereotype, one no less offensive and no more accurate than the Angry Inner-City Black Man archetype that we can all agree is beyond the pale of any civil conversation.
Sure, the particular mega-donors to whom Reid refers are not perfect iterations of the textbook slur: Mr. Friess, Mr. Adelson, and company are obviously intelligent, informed, and successful men. But the Senator's remarks are obviously a dog-whistle, designed to provoke visceral dislike of his political opponents based solely on the demographic boxes into which they can be conveniently sorted.
In America, in 2012, such personal and racial put-downs can either generate a firestorm of righteous indignation, or can earn you points for hip self-awareness and be green-lighted as fair rhetorical game. It all depends on who is slurring whom. But it should not.
I wait eagerly for the evolution of American political culture to a point where these destructive slurs are completely off-limits, regardless of who is speaking or on which side of the aisle he makes camp. But until then, we can take at least some small comfort: if somebody was going to crudely blast angry, old Caucasian men of means who wield outsized political influence for nefarious purposes, I can think of no spokesman more qualified than the Senate Majority Leader.