The GOP Continues To Believe The Solution Lies In Better Euphemisms

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 10:28 EDT
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Joan Walsh at Salon has a great piece up about Darrell Issa today, particularly the way that he’s a favorite punching bag for Republicans who want to appear “reasonable”. As she notes, the disagreement between Issa and his conservative critics, however, is purely about aesthetics.

Issa’s extremist idiocy lets “reasonable” Republicans denounce him and/or his rhetoric, while they continue their own ethically, intellectually and politically blinkered crusades against President Obama. Sure, Sen. John McCain says it was wrong to call Carney a “paid liar” – but also on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he compared the IRS mess to Ronald Reagan’s deadly Iran-Contra scandal. Um, no.

Scandal-drunk Sen. Lindsey Graham says Issa went too far when he said the IRS agents who keyword-targeted Tea Party groups “were directly being ordered from Washington.” But he continued to hype the IRS story. “At the end of the day, the IRS scandal really is scary,” he told Fox’s Brian Kilmeade. “How would you like your own government to turn on you?” Is that really what happened, Lindsey Graham? And if so, it happened most brutally to a Democratic group, Emerge America, which had its tax-exempt status revoked.

Over and over, we see that this is basically the only real debate between Republicans: Do you state your beliefs bluntly, or do you bury those beliefs in euphemism, hoping that you can hoodwink low information voters into voting for you? Certainly, Bobby Jindal’s celebrated comments about how the GOP to “stop being the stupid party” had nothing to do with their stupid policies. He simply meant that they should be better at employing euphemism when promoting stupid, dangerous, ill-advised, hateful policies:

“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that,” Jindal said. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”

By “trust the intelligence of the American people”, however, he clearly means “assume Americans are stupid enough to fall for our euphemisms designed to make our odious beliefs sound less awful than they are”. Which, frankly, strikes me as an insult to the American voters.

The College Republicans have also suggested that Republicans need to be more adept at euphemism instead of actually changing anything. In a recent report on what it takes to attract young voters, the recommendation was, at least on some issues like gay rights, to be better at employing euphemism.

On the “open-minded” issue, yes, we will face serious difficulty so long as theissue of gay marriage remains on the table. In the short term, the party oughtto promote the diversity of thought within its ranks and make clear that wewelcome healthy debate on the policy topic at hand. We should also strongly oppose the use of anti-gay rhetoric.

Unfortunately, there’s not a “nice” way to say that you oppose someone’s basic human rights.  Maggie Gallagher is showing what a farce this kind of thinking is, trying to claim that one can somehow believe that heterosexuals are better than gay people without it actually being homophobic, even though that’s the definition of homophobia.

Of course, when they emphasize euphemism, Republicans know that they only mean to outsiders. They have a wide swath of very literal-minded, hyper-conservative voters who need you to be blunt when speaking to them, or they may think you’ve gone soft. Unfortunately for them, the internet makes it hard to have one message for one set of people and another for another set, because sites like this one, Media Matters, and Right Wing Watch make sure to publicize messaging that was meant for conservative-only ears.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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