Monday, April 14, 2008

Tailgunner Joe Lieberman?

I've studied Joe McCarthy. I've read books about Joe McCarthy. And you, Senator, are no Joe McCarthy:
NAPITALIANO: Hey Sen. Lieberman, you know Barack Obama, is he a Marxist as Bill Kristol says might be the case in today’s New York Times? Is he an elitist like your colleague Hillary Clinton says he is?
LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, I must say that’s a good question. I know him now for a little more than three years since he came into the Senate and he’s obviously very smart and he’s a good guy. I will tell ya that during this campaign, I’ve learned some things about him, about the kind of environment from which he came ideologically. And I wouldn’t…I’d hesitate to say he’s a Marxist, but he’s got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America.
You'd "hesitate to say he's a Marxist"? Damn it, Joe, if you're going to be part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, you'll have to learn to stop hestitating about stuff like this. Be reckless and irresponsible, like me.

Don't worry, Joe. I know you're new to this witch-hunting persecution thing, where we destroy the careers of innocent Communists by calling them Communists. You'll get the hang of it eventually.

(Via Memeorandum.)

UPDATE: Rushing to the defense of Obama is heroic civil libertarian Andrew Sullivan:
Bill Kristol, trained in the same politics as Hillary Clinton, now argues that Obama's remarks in a fundraiser q and a are the "real Obama" - and that his voluminous writing and speaking about the sincerity of his own religious faith, and of others, are presumably "masks." . . .
You could argue, as Kristol and others hilariously will, that Lou Dobbs has no base, that fundamentalist Christianism has no problem with "the other" in a globalized world, that dozens of state constitutional amendments banning civil marriages that had never and would never have taken place were just spirited forms of civic engagement, rather than scapegoating or politicking on resentment. You could also argue, as others legitimately will, that spasms of economic distress and social discontent are unconnected. Hey: Weimar had nothing to do with Hitler.
Uh, Andy, let me offer some etiquette advice here. Whenever you are arguing with people with names like "Lieberman" and "Kristol," it is generally considered bad form to introduce the word "Hitler" into the discourse. If they want to talk about Hitler, OK. But if you, the angry Gentile, just randomly throw "Hitler" into the argument, some people might get the wrong impression.

Just trying to help, buddy . . .

UPDATE II: I guess I should clarify that the above remark was not meant to accuse Andrew Sullivan of anti-Semitism. It's something called a "joke."

If you have to explain a joke, it ruins the joke, but I'll go ahead and ruin it, rather than be misunderstood:
  • This blog post began with a link to a Think Progress post in which Joe Lieberman is accused of red-baiting Barack Obama.
  • Then, I mocked the accusation against Lieberman with various references to the career of famed anti-communist Sen. Joe McCarthy. (I've interviewed two McCarthy biographers, Arthur Herman and Stan Evans.)
  • Self-deprecating humor was employed by urging Lieberman to "be reckless and irresponsible, like me."
  • Then, after clicking over to Memeorandum to see if my post was linked, I noticed Sullivan's post, which included a non sequitur Hitler/Weimar reference.
  • Knowing Sullivan to be a critic of neocons, it occurred to me that his introduction of Hitler to the argument might be misconstrued as one of those anti-Semitic digs to which some anti-neocons occasionally resort.
  • Thus, I offered my "etiquette advice," pointing out a true fact of etiquette -- that one should not introduce to conversation a topic known to be painful or offensive to others -- and suggested the possibility that "some people might get the wrong impression," i.e., that Sullivan might be accused of anti-Semitism.
  • This adds new layers of self-referential humor to the post, since (a) I'm not exactly known as the most tactful and sensitive person on the planet, and (b) I've also had personal experience with thoughtless remarks that gave "some people . . . the wrong impression."
So, a joke ruined, but a misunderstanding avoided.

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