Today on twitter, I saw someone post a link to a letter that was supposedly by Clint Eastwood. The letter immediately seemed fishy due to the last paragraph which is just a litany of childish name-calling that I found to be beneath Mr. Eastwood. I don't know the guy personally, but Eastwood has always struck me as someone who is intelligent and thoughtful, not foolish or childish. So I took the two seconds necessary to find out that the letter is a fake. Big deal, right? Someone posted something that was false on the internet. Let it go. But I freely admit that I've made that mistake before (more than once), and I genuinely appreciated it when friends poited out that the attributions were incorrect, so I thought maybe I would be doing this person a favor by letting him know. If not, who cares? He gets to hold on to his belief that it's the real deal, and I move on with my life unscathed.
So I let him know. I was pleased that the gentlemen didn't try to persevere in the illusion that the letter was actually written by Eastwood. But he held on to the sentiment of the letter. Again, that's fine. When I've been duped by a false meme, I did so because I agreed with the quote and was flattered by the false notion that some person I respect had voiced the opinion. When I was shown I was wrong about the attribution, I was disappointed, but it didn't alter my admiration for the sentiment. I just felt like a boob for being too lazy to double check the attribution.
Here's where it gets weird and noteworthy, though. The poster didn't just double-down on his agreement with the sentiment expressed in the string of vitriol. He continued to tweet at me, challenging me to "address the argument." "Lemme know when you work up the nerve to address the argument," he tweeted. And, "It's still a devastating argument the Constitution haters won't like. Or dare address." And, "You didn't dare address it. " Are you sensing a theme?
I feel a bit like Marty McFly taking the bait because he keeps calling me "chicken," but the fact is I CAN'T address the argument because there isn't one. It’s not an argument that can be refuted because it’s not an argument at all. It’s barely a series of assertions.
The letter is structured like a joke. There’s a set-up in which this not-really-Clint-Eastwood writer starts with some heartwarming pablum about facing your mortality and caring for your family, and then there’s a pivot about doing your friends and family a favor by letting them know where you stand, and then a punchline:
“So, just in case I'm gone tomorrow, please know this ...
“I voted against that incompetent, lying, flip-flopping, insincere, double-talking, radical socialist, terrorist excusing, bleeding heart, narcissistic, scientific and economic moron currently in the White House!”
Ha! So funny! See? You didn’t think it would go there, and then it did. It’s a riot.
But it’s not an argument any more than your average “Your mama is so fat” joke. Demanding a rational response is like saying, “Nanny nanny boo boo, stick your head in doo doo. Now I dare you to address that!” Address what? It’s just name calling.
I’m guessing the guy posting to my twitter feed wants me to take on the names one by one (or else I’m a “Constitution hater”). Sorry, buddy. I don’t owe you that. I think the charges are wrong, but so what? The President is the President. This tweeter can think the President is all those things and a lot worse, and, if he is a Constitution lover instead of a Constitution hater, then he knows he has the right to voice his opinion, and that’s about it. The President will still be the President. The tweeter can follow the letter’s advice and let his friends know where he stands, but then he’ll just be another guy who doesn’t like a particular politician. Big whoop.
I’ve repeatedly asked, honestly and openly, for an explanation for the level of vitriol this President receives from his critics. I received explanations ranging from a faux-Presidential seal some supporter made that was somehow proof of the President’s arrogance, to that misguided sting operation that allowed some guns to get into the hands of Mexican drug dealers (an operation conceived and carried out by some low-level DEA agents, not by some nefarious Presidential plan), to a ham-fisted PR spin on an terrorist attack in Benghazi. Oh, and President Obama uses executive orders when Congress won’t do its job, though about half as many as Bush and Reagan. And he pushed people into the private, capitalist insurance markets in order to get healthcare to some 15 million uninsured people, and that somehow makes him a socialist because, I guess, socialists now make people participate in capitalism rather than waiting to go to emergency rooms and not paying for it. That’s what socialism has come to; paying private companies for goods and services. Obama is also the “Confiscator-in-Chief” because ...well, he hasn’t confiscated a single gun from a law-abiding gun owner, but some folks are damned sure he’d gonna at some point. He’s letting in all the illegal immigrants ...except that the number of illegal immigrants living in the US is actually going down. He’s ruining our economy and giving all our economic power to China ...except that we’ve had nearly continuous growth during his presidency while China’s economy is currently tanking. He did give a speech in Egypt where he admitted that the US government hasn’t always done the right things. That was called an apology tour because ...what? Because he’s supposed to bolster our image by lying and claiming the US government has never done anything wrong? I guess only conservatives are allowed to badmouth the federal government. When a liberal does it, it suddenly becomes unpatriotic.
I still haven’t heard a satisfactory explanation for the degree of hatred. I’m still trying to figure out a way to explain it that doesn’t involve dismissing the President’s most vitriolic critics as racists or tribalists who see the very same thing done by a white, professed conservative and a black, professed liberal and freak out about one and not the other. Some DEA agents give a few guns to Mexican drug dealers and it’s proof that the President is incompetent. Reagan’s administration gave and/or sold weapons to Iran, Iraq, and the Taliban. Many of those same guns were later turned on our own soldiers. But Operation Fast and Furios is the bigger outrage? Benghazi was insufficiently defended and the administration tried to blame the attack on a video before they knew the real cause. Our own homeland was insufficiently defended on 9/11, and the Bush administration tried to blame it on the wrong country long after they knew better, causing an unnecessary war and thousands of American deaths, but Benghazi is the scandal that we’re supposed to be worried about?
I just don’t get it. I know. I know. “Lib-tard.” “Drinking the Kool-Aid.” I’ve heard all that before. What I haven’t heard is an explanation that has much more substance than this supposed argument penned by not-Clint-Eastwood. I have more specific criticisms of this President than my conservative friends do ( 1. The ACA isn’t socialist enough. 2. “Race to the Top has been terrible for public schools. 3. Not prosecuting Wall Street crooks was a mistake, and 4. So was not going after the people who ordered illegal torture after 9/11), but I’m not the one screaming online about how the President is ruining the country.
So, to my new twitter friend, I will dare to address your argument as soon as you dare to make one. Use a specific example. Cite a source. But if your “argument” is that President Obama is a secret Kenyan, secret Muslim, secret atheist, secret Black Nationalist, secret communist, secret alien, secret lizard-person, secret head of the Illuminati, secret anti-Christ, will you please keep your theory a secret? You are not-so-secretly revealing a lot more about yourself than about the President of the United States.