Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 11, 2008

HIGH PRAISE, LOW STANDARDS.... Just one year ago, at this very blog, Kevin Drum hosted the Golden Wingnut Award, honoring the very worst from far-right blogs. Power Line's John Hinderaker ran away with the top prize, after writing a post -- or more accurately, a paean -- about George W. Bush's greatness: "A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice."

On Sunday, Hinderaker, a one-time winner of Time's blogger of the year award and one of the far-right's most influential bloggers, made a play for the next Golden Wingnut Award with this jaw-dropping item:

Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn't raise his standards, he will exceed Bush's total before he is inaugurated.

I wonder if far-right bloggers appreciate how difficult it is to satirize their bizarre sensibilities when their original content is so painfully ridiculous.

In this case, I've read Hinderaker's piece repeatedly, hoping to find some hint that he's kidding. As he sees it, Obama, who's known for his eloquence, should emulate Bush, who's known for his Bushisms, on speaking with "care and precision."

But Hinderaker is apparently sincere. He actually believes this.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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Comments

There have been doubts expressed as to the sales potential of a memoir by Bush the Destroyer. Ackording to Hinderaker, there should be tremendous potential for a book on rhetoric, by the master par excellence - even McCain could probably pick up some pointers at Bush's feet!

Yes - at times it is hard to take them seriously. For instance, when they claimed the Iraqis would welcome "us" with flowers and marching bands, we should have known they were just joking.

Posted by: SteinL on November 11, 2008 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

I read this quote to my father. His exact reaction was "Now this is a joke, right?" I think that about sums it up. Hinderaker, if human, cannot be serious.

Posted by: d. b. cooper on November 11, 2008 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Our childrens still is not learnin'

Posted by: ChicagoPat on November 11, 2008 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

What a marvelous insight into the the Republican mind. Truly breathtaking!

Posted by: Mark-NC on November 11, 2008 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Has anyone looked into Hiinderaker's soul lately? If so, biring 'em on. Until then, heckuva job, Hindy.

Posted by: Danp on November 11, 2008 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

I can sort of understand the denial when the alternative is to accept that your worldview is fatally flawed, and as a result you've thrown your lot in with the most corrosively incompetent President in history.

Posted by: Del Capslock on November 11, 2008 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Denial is one of the stages of grief.

Posted by: Reverend J on November 11, 2008 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

The synonym for insane is not sincere. But I do look forward to Bush's Golden Book of Rhetorikin' -- remember his lesson to us all on the meaning of disassemble?

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on November 11, 2008 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

That's the key to being a right-winger -- take reality, and claim the exact opposite.

Posted by: Gore/Feingold '16 on November 11, 2008 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Just remember that these people revere Ronald Reagan as the 'Great Communicator' who joked that "We've outlawed the Soviet Union. We begin bombing in five minutes." No way to misinterpret that.

Posted by: Scott H on November 11, 2008 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

War of choice? OBGYN's practicing their love? They hate us for our freedom? Oh, but Obama said "bitter"

Posted by: Danp on November 11, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if far-right bloggers appreciate how difficult it is to satirize their bizarre sensibilities...

A study was done to determine how well people can self-evaluate. Prior to taking tests in a variety of subjects (geography, math, spelling, etc) most people could estimate fairly well how they would perform relative to their peers.

The exception was the test for logical thinking (LSAT). While people who scored well had predicted they would, those who scored poorly had also predicted they would score better than average.

People who lack reasoning skills also lack the ability to see that defect clearly. In fact, they think it is their peers who are irrational.

Posted by: chance on November 11, 2008 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

The wingnut blogosphere truly is Bizarro World.

Posted by: "Fair and Balanced" Dave on November 11, 2008 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

In some parallel universe they might not have their heads up their asses. But in this one, "you're doin' a heckuva job there Browny" has some basis in reality.

Posted by: lou on November 11, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Looks as though Hinderacker learned from a great teacher, that being, the fellow in China who kept posting about the wonders and world swimming records being set by Mao in the Yangtze.

Takes Fawning to new heights.

Posted by: berttheclock on November 11, 2008 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

And with that, Assrocket left the solar system in search of his native reality.

Posted by: JoeW on November 11, 2008 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Bring it on.

Posted by: RZ on November 11, 2008 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

New Yorker magazine ran a weekly feature of fractured Bushisms in the early days of his presidency. Then 9-11 happened, irony died and symbolism covered the landscape.

Posted by: henry lewis on November 11, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

I think this is a rather transparent ploy, building on his other rather transparent ploys, to be chosen as the ghostwriter of Bush's memoirs. It would be the crowning achievement of his "career" so far and is one he's obviously toadying for.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on November 11, 2008 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

"Now, there are some who would like to rewrite history-revisionist historians is what I like to call them." -George W. Bush, Elizabeth, N.J., June 16, 2003

Hiinderaker= history-revisionist historian

'nuff said.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on November 11, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Projection. Chronic psychological projection. It is difficult to imagine what this guy is smoking.

Posted by: Russell Aboard M/V Sunshine on November 11, 2008 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

According to the Free Dictionary:
sycophant - A servile self-seeker who attempts to win favor by flattering influential people.
Syn (adj): bootlicking, fawning, obsequious, toadyish - Sounds right to me.

However, two questions follow: Is it possible to be sycophantic of someone who has the lowest approval rating of any president since the start of polling? Can you still be a sycophant and blast one of the most popular and charismatic president-elects ever?

Posted by: Kropotkin on November 11, 2008 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Just to toss it out there (coming from a solid blue liberal) - yes, Bush can't string together a sentence, but he did have a good ability to avoid _policy_ gaffes. Verbal gaffes aplenty, but he typically stayed (inanely) on message.

Posted by: jonathan on November 11, 2008 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Alcoholism, Brain Injury, come to mind. Parts of the brain are affected by trauma.
Surely B43 will need a speechwriter in his new life. It won't be a busy job, but perhaps a lonely one. Hindraker might be the right man for it.

Posted by: Casey on November 11, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption." -George W. Bush, Trenton, N.J., Sept. 23, 2002

Amen brother!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on November 11, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

'I wonder if far-right bloggers appreciate how difficult it is to satirize their bizarre sensibilities when their original content is so painfully ridiculous.'

If those on the left weren't so satirically well endowed, conservatives would not be forced so far to the right in a noble effort to afford ridicule.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on November 11, 2008 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Believe it or not, this is not the first time when Hinderaker has talked highly of Bush's speaking skills, nor is it the first time when he has claimed Bush has been a mostly gaffe-free president.

He sincerely believes this.

Posted by: Joshua on November 11, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Remember Saddam's spokesperson in Baghdad ("Baghdad Bob") during the U.S. invasion? He kept announcing that American forces were being pushed back, that Iraqis were winning great victories, until the moment he had to run for it. Hindraker would like to be George W. Bush's Baghdad Bob. He's got the mindset and the blindfold, all ready to go.

Posted by: Zeno on November 11, 2008 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

From the Hinderaker post:

It's possible that President Kaczynski deliberately misquoted Obama, but that seems highly unlikely.

Does he actually know anything about the Kaczynski brothers? For once, I'd say that I'm quite well informed on this issue, being a European and reading up on Polish politics quite often. And let me tell you: the Kaczynski brothers are premium nut cases, simple as that. Furthermore, they are as conservative and cynical as can be in their political endeavours, so actually it strikes me as very likely that the Polish president deliberately misquoted Obama. If only to put more pressure on the Russians and give them the impression that Obama has got their Polish back.

Posted by: Jeroen on November 11, 2008 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Cloud Cuckooland!

Posted by: bill h. on November 11, 2008 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Tina Fey and the SNL writers made this observation: if your subject's own words rise to the level of satire, even unintentionally, just use them verbatim. This is what the drivel of Palin, Hinderaker, the folks at the Corner, and so on have become-- comedy gold.

Posted by: Derek on November 11, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

I don't believe Hinderaker believes a word of it. He's a lawyer making the best case he can for a lousy client.

Posted by: a on November 11, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Now it can be told: Hinderaker is actually a DFH commie masquerading as a wingnut. Sometimes he just can't help himself, and has to go over the edge.

Posted by: Peter VE on November 11, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

"I think it's very important for the American President to mean what he says. That's why I understand that the enemy could misread what I say. That's why I try to be as clearly I can." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2004

Don't misunderestimate how history will favorably look upon George, the most linguistic challenged of all Presidents that have faced the walk of life.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on November 11, 2008 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Hinderaker wrote:
In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed.

I take it that Assrocket isn't a fan of Letterman's Great Moments in Presidential History...

Posted by: josef on November 11, 2008 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Is there a version of Poe's Law for wingnuttery? Hinderaker's peans to Bush are so hermetically sealed into their own fictional reality that they are indistinguishable from parody.

Posted by: idlemind on November 11, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

It's not a gaffe if...

(1) no one takes what you say seriously anyway;

(2) the words you utter have no meaning in the English language (and the fact that you have uttered such is not itself surprising anymore);

(3) people are willing to charitably interpret your meaning as a joke, because it would be cruel not to;

or (4) nobody was paying any attention to what you said. (If a gaffe is uttered in a soundproof booth....)

Posted by: ScottA on November 11, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Your problem is that you misunderestimate Hindraker.

Posted by: mamased on November 11, 2008 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Who is this guy, Bagdhad Bush?

Posted by: Marko on November 11, 2008 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

These are the same people who when in engaged in a discussion about Bush, will criticize Clinton, Obama and congressional democrats rather than defend idol.

Homeless guy on a bus talking to himself!

Posted by: ThatGuy on November 11, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Hinie-raker is a grody "commentator", but what we need to worry about the most: How did Time end up picking him as "blogger of the year"?

Posted by: Neil B on November 11, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Does Hinderaker have the Nancy Reagan "seance" comment in mind?

Posted by: ferd on November 11, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

But Hinderaker is apparently sincere. He actually believes this.

Perhaps this is why such writers pursue such lines of thought - it's like mescaline and heroin mixed together, and all you need is a keyboard. And it's evidently addictive to some. Roll this together with Newt as RNC chair and the Fairness Doctrine hallucinations, and let the wandering in the political wilderness begin. Shopping carts optional.

Posted by: GuyFromOhio on November 11, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

How did Time end up picking him as "blogger of the year"?

And more recently, A Time Magazine feature chose Ace Of Spades HQ as a top blog.

Time Magazine must hate its readers.

Posted by: henry lewis on November 11, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Also, Obama needs to be careful that he doesn't undo the tremendous economic progress made under George W. Bush. The economy, employment, housing markets, and stock market are roaring ahead thanks to Bush's attentive and prudent management. Obama should seriously rethink his position that we need "change," particularly on the economic front.

Posted by: John Hinderaker on November 11, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hinderacker is just trying to, uh, practice his, uh, LOVE on us.

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 11, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hinderaker's just tryin' to, uh, practice his, uh, LOVE on us.

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 11, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for the double post. Don't know how it happened, actually.

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 11, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. This guy makes Harriet Meiers look like a model of insubordination.

Posted by: gradysu on November 11, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Is our bloggers learnin' ?

Posted by: olo on November 11, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

You know, it's gotten to the point where if you stuck a post from "Jesus' General" side by side with a post from Hinderaker, J-Lo, Goldberg, or many others, you would never be able to tell the difference.

They have moved beyond parody and into some alternate reality where statues are being erected to honor Dick Cheney, Bush is a master statesman, no one innocent has ever been killed in Iraq, and where John McCain actually won last week.

It'd be pathetic if it weren't so damned entertaining to watch.

Posted by: Mark D on November 11, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Did you know this fellow is a graduate of Dartmouth College and of Harvard Law School?

Unbelievable.

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on November 11, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

i clicked thru to see the context...jeez...he really believes that obama should use bush as an example for a public speaker....

kevin should just rename his contest...the Golden Hinderakers.....

Posted by: dj spellchecka on November 11, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Jacob Weisberg call John Hinderaker.....
http://www.slate.com/id/76886/

Posted by: dj spellchecka on November 11, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm putting on my tin-foil hat here: since the Bush administration uses psychological warfare on us, perhaps they have actually brainwashed a few chosen reporters and bloggers. Maybe Novak's brain tumor isn't actually a brain tumor...(cue spooky music).

Posted by: Always Hopeful on November 11, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon me while I catch my breath - too much pointing and cackling.

Posted by: Wareq on November 11, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

chance said:

A study was done to determine how well people can self-evaluate. Prior to taking tests in a variety of subjects (geography, math, spelling, etc) most people could estimate fairly well how they would perform relative to their peers.

The exception was the test for logical thinking (LSAT). While people who scored well had predicted they would, those who scored poorly had also predicted they would score better than average.

People who lack reasoning skills also lack the ability to see that defect clearly. In fact, they think it is their peers who are irrational.

Not based on a study at all, just what I have observed over the years:

People who are reactionaries seem to believe that reacting in knee-jerk fashion is actually thinking.

Long, long ago, when conservatism still had a good name, some pundit pointed out that --- contrary to what the name "conservative" implies and what people tended to think about conservatives --- conservatism is actually an emotional ideology, and that liberals were actually the people who were more prone to be logical and rational. Since Nixon's time, I have seen this be true over and over and over again: The conservative talking heads are always going for the emotional reaction.

An "emotional reaction" is, in politics, in almost every case, IMHO, an exact equivalent to a knee-jerk reaction.

I would posit that the more often knee-jerk reactions are triggered, the less capable the individual is to pursue any political thought to a logical conclusion; the emotional knee-jerk jumps in and trumps efforts before rational consideration can enter the fray.

Playing shrink, I would guess that Hinderaker has listened to so many knee-jerk talking points that he has them running around in his head all the time, preventing any possibility of rational thought to even enter, but also rejecting - and maybe even completely blinding his mind to - any thought or spoken idea that does not conform to the conservative mantras he has been imbued with. I would guess that Hinderaker literally does not even HEAR Bush's Bushisms; that to him they are actually logical and sensible, since they are spoken in catch-phrases and talking points that have been formulated (IMHO by the vaunted right-wing think tanks) to keep people from thinking on their own.

It is not a mental disconnect in Hinderaker's mind to see Bush's speeches as wise and thoughtful, since Bush uses the correct conservative phrases/talking points (actually knee-jerk inducing phrases), whereas Obama and other liberals use alien phrases and terms, showing how illiterate they are. Hinderaker - like so many on the right - actually feels SORRY for liberals, that they have not awakened to the glory of the conservative mantra.

IMHO, all of them need an intervention team - BADLY. It is how we treat people who have been brain-washed. (I do not think it is an accident that we have seen such irrational behavior, since Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Moonies -- famous for their brain-washing techniques -- was one of the original billionaires who funded the creation of the right wing think tanks.) I believe that rightwing-ness is a form of brain-washing, and until we treat the victims of it with intervention nothing will remove this insanity from our society.

Sincere or not, Hinderaker needs help.

Posted by: SteveGinIL on November 11, 2008 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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