Saturday, January 23, 2010

Variation On The Thumper Rule: If You Can't Think Of Anything Smart To Say, Then Shut The Hell Up--The Political Version

Mark Twain once said, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." So many people in politics would do well to have that quote tattooed upon their forearms or, at the very least, with them, visibly, at all times. Here are a few examples that I've been collecting lately for your consideration. Hey, everyone needs a hobby.

Case 1. Ideally, we want our leaders to be brilliant. We want them to be smarter than we are and not the kind of ...entrepreneur that puts himself through law school by posing naked for a hotsy-totsy publication. Or the kind that uses his historic (the first time a republican has garnered a Massachusetts Senate seat in over 30 years) acceptance speech to pimp out his daughter. Senator-elect Brown is not your typical republican in many respects--he is pro-choice, he supports his state's subsidized health care system--but he needs to smarten up. Here is a delightful quote that says it all for me: "I'm a history buff. I love the Museum of Natural History." Oh, boy. Come on, Scott. Do you even know what is in a museum of natural history? Heavy sigh.

Case 2. I liked Elizabeth Edwards and stuck up for her when people--male people in particular--said unkind and disparaging things about her. (Same thing about Barbara Bush, by the way, who I always liked until she opened her snobby elitist and out-of-touch yap about the Katrina victims.) You know, the snotty remarks about how she (and Bar) looked old enough to be her husband's mother, how Elizabeth was matronly, overweight, and all that crap. Then, as the media circus was finally settling down and she and her kids could just live their lives and she could focus on managing her terminal illness, Elizabeth wrote her bestseller and dredged it all up again. Okay, whatever. I say, "Stick it to the cheating bastard and make him squirm." But just as John "The Haircut" Edwards is finally facing the music, what is Elizabeth doing? Well, among other things like running a furniture store, she's giving an interview to POLITICO, in which she seems to make excuses for him. Oh, Elizabeth Elizabeth Elizabeth. Here's what she told them about Babydaddy John-boy: "The things he wanted to do weren't going to be natural for continued public life anyway. He honestly cares about poverty." Hm. Well, it's nice that he cares about...something.

Case 3. Speaking of John Edwards. (In the interest of full disclosure, I used to like him. As a matter of fact, he was My Guy way back when. I saw him, as I may have said in a much-earlier election blogpost, as a sort of Kennedy/Clinton clone. Obviously, I STAND CORRECTED. The guy is a slimeball.) Anyway, does this guy strike you as a modern-day Reverend Dimmesdale from Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, or what? Remember him, the minister who got the Puritan woman pregnant, let her take the fall for him, stayed silent for eight years while she raised her daughter alone and was vilified by the community, and then, as he was dying, gave a pseudo-confession with his last breath, and was still seen as a Christian martyr by many in the community? One of Dimmesdale's midnight promises to his daughter Pearl is that he will one day legitimize her by standing with her and her mother. When Pearl asks if it will be the next day at noon, Reverend Dimmesdale says no, it will be another day: Judgement Day. In an eerily similar vein, here's a little quote from John "Call Me Rev." Edwards: “I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace. It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me.” Oh, PS. Little Frances Quinn Edwards-Hunter is TWO. At least she only had to wait ONE year for her father's acknowledgment.

So, yeah, I get it; I get that being under constant public/media scrutiny is tough. You can't filter your mouth nearly enough. But these? These are...just terrible. These people chose a public life. Now they need to choose their words, too, and carefully. Or just shut up.


  1. My parents and many of my friends also believed John Edwards was their guy. I could never quite put my finger on it to explain to them why I didn't like the guy. I'm a lawyer, so it was not the "trial lawyers are slimy" thing. I am glad that he has finally answered that question for my family and friends far better than I ever did.

  2. Nancy8:08 PM

    Dear Nance,

    I have always wanted to use the verb form of the word butler in a sentence.

    Because I consider you my arbiter of fine grammar ,please tell me if I am using the word correctly.

    "Benson buttled my bottle of Berringers Bourgelais into my Bosch box beneath the Brie but bordering the Bernaise for better
    balance beside the brioche.

  3. Nancy8:15 PM


    Please forgive me for straying(above) so far from your very interesting subject.

    I read your post and could not agree more with what you have written. You were spot on....

  4. John Edwards really turn out to be quite the schmuck, didn't he? And WTF is wrong with his wife? It is her business to stay with a cheater if she wishes to do so, but really, to defend his actions?! Come on!

  5. I do wish that the ONE person involved in the primaries who gave a rat's ass about the poor hadn't turned out to be such a rat's turd. I did like him for that.

    I still love Elizabeth, no matter what kind of shit she has to do to get herself through from day to day at this point. I know I shouldn't. Her making public excuses for him is pathetic. But she is so much more than this.

    And Barbara Bush is an asshole. Her and her 'beautiful mind'. She's elitist, and she spoiled her idiot son, and raised him with such a sense of privilege that he somehow thought he was qualified to be President. And there are other sons out there ready to screw us all.

    I'm guessing John Edwards will marry the girlfriend after Liz dies, and give the kid all the love she deserves. The older kids will probably hate him for it.

    And Clinton? He was no better than Edwards, except he didn't get anyone pregnant. He did the deed, and he lied about it. Kennedy, too. So perhaps he is a clone of them?

  6. I love discussing politics and one of my favorite places on the net is Boston Tea party chat. My online friend from there was a rabid Edwards fan til he started his shenanigans. What a mess he is and why is wife defends him is beyond me.

    Our politicians have feet of clay and we often forget that when we are voting for them. I hate it when people say some things abour the women that they say. We have some who compare Ms. Obama to a monkey, they talk about hilarys weight and how tired she looks. When Clinton was in office they talked about how ugly chelsea was. Why do they do that?

    As for Brown, he is a different type of candidate. I don't think he will follow the republican party line as close as some think he will.

  7. That little bunny in the measuring cup is in the top 5 cutest Nance bunny pics, for sure! I love it!!

  8. Nina--Isn't it adorable? Think how tiny it must be if it doesn't even fill a one-cup measure! And as far as Elizabeth, you and I are just not wired that way. If we found out our men had cheated, we'd contact Our People and take care of business. LOL.

    Garnetrose--Welcome to the Dept. The double standard you so accurately describe is, sadly, not confined to politics and something I've talked about here often. Tragically, I've found that women are sometimes the worst offenders themselves of this hypercriticism. Regarding Scott Brown, I hope he remains true to his past voting record and doesn't start kowtowing to this bullshit "Tea Party" pseudo-constituency which is hilariously now taking credit for his victory. He's far more an Independent than he is a conservative republican, which is what they tout themselves.

    J@jj--You know, I still want to believe that Edwards DOES care about "The Two Americas", but now that he's been proven so duplicitous, I have Trust Issues with him. And don't get me wrong, I sympathize with Elizabeth; I just don't understand her. That being said, far be it from me to try to put myself in the shoes of a woman who is trying to manage breast cancer, children, a very public scandal involving my unfaithful husband and his failed presidential campaign, and now a gossipy book that is calling me a shrew with absolutely no concrete attributions whatsoever. And you give John E. far more credit than I would by guessing he'll actually marry his mistress. I can't imagine that.

    Nancy--????. Um. Well. "Buttle" is a substandard word, and should be avoided if possible. If you must use this slang, remember that it means "To serve as a butler." It would, therefore, not be strictly correct in your tongue-twister here, the context of which puts it into more of the idea of "to move or put." Certainly Benson did not serve as the butler for your bottle. See?

    S.--Thanks for stopping by the Dept. and adding your thoughts. I had several friends and colleagues who felt the same way, that there was just something inauthentic about Edwards. I chalked it up to a personality conflict and let it go. I am still intrigued as to how some men are just so swathed in their power and position that they feel as if they have a Shield of Invincibility around them and can go and be naughty with impunity. A la Tiger Woods and President Clinton and Sen. John Ensign, etc. You certainly don't hear about women abusing their positions in this way. Of course, if they do, perhaps the men they have sexual liasons with don't have a problem with it.... Another double standard.

  9. I've been holed up grieving all week for the sorry state of humanity. Thanks for spouting off; I felt more energized and less defeated reading it. And, are you loving The Age of Wonder? Brits can flat WRITE!

  10. The Other Nance--I *am* loving The Age of Wonder. It's not the kind of book one can speed through, but I love to learn about things I don't often think about. Just got done with the section on ballooning--so fascinating! I had no idea that Percy B. Shelley was a balloon enthusiast and that he (and Wordsworth) wrote about it. And I spout off TONS here at the Dept., so take some time and browse the archives or click on the widget links after my current posts. MORE FUN! LOL.

  11. All of this fits neatly under the heading of FAME: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. I used to like Edwards, too.

  12. apathy lounge--I know. When you put yourself out there, you have to be ready for The Crazies. In a small way, it's analogous to the social networking sites (I group them all under the name MY TWITFACE, a term first coined by Conan O'Brien and perpetuated by ME). I am continually amazed by the cavalier way people of all ages vomit their intimacies all over these sites and then are aghast at the number of yahoos who come out of the woodwork to peddle their insanity to them via the interwebs. What did they think would happen?


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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