Sunday, February 21, 2016

Civility Watchdog Digest: February 21, 2016

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"Ted Cruz is a dirty player. He lies like I've never seen anybody – and I've dealt with some pretty bad people, I've dealt with much, much worse people than Ted Cruz, much tougher than Ted Cruz, a much, much tougher group of people than Ted Cruz, but I've never dealt with anybody that lies as much as Ted Cruz. … Ted Cruz is a serious liar, I guess you could call him a serial liar … I have never met anybody that lied as much as Ted Cruz. … I have never met a worse liar than Ted Cruz, and I've met some unbelievable professional liars".
-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, February 20, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Comment: This is "liar" rhetoric.

“We will not allow Ted Cruz to do to Marco in South Carolina what he did to Ben Carson in Iowa,” Rubio communications director Alex Conant said in statement to reporters that captured the tone of recent days. “Cruz has proven that he is willing to do or say anything to get elected. Over the last 10 days, the Cruz campaign has lied, smeared, fabricated and even Photoshopped. We fear the worst dirty tricks are yet to come. We strongly urge all South Carolina Republicans to beware of suspicious news reports, emails and social media posts during tomorrow’s voting. The Cruz campaign will do anything to stop Marco Rubio's momentum."

“Politics in South Carolina is a blood sport,” Haley said, gesturing to her footwear. “I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement, but because you have to be prepared to kick at any time.”
-- From a February 19, 2016, story in Politico by Nick Gass, featuring a quote from Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC).

Comment: Conant is using the "they'll say anything" caricature, while Haley is using violent rhetoric.

"He has a very, very highly developed lizard brain. … He has a feral intelligence. He reminds me of the Emperor Caligula who got his greatest pleasure from destroying his opponents and humiliating them, and he is brilliant at that. But he doesn't know anything about policy".
-- Pundit Joe Klein, February 18, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Klein is demonizing and dehumanizing Trump. Also, does Trump literally know nothing about policy?

“We ran a hard campaign against each other. He said things that hurt my feelings, I said things that hurt his feelings. It was tough! But he won and I lost. And I said, ‘I want to do everything I can to get you elected,’ and I did. I did everything I could think of to do.”

One woman, perhaps a decade younger than Hillary, with a thick Midwestern accent, stood up to speak her piece: “I want to say that when I listen to you, I feel that the political discourse is taken back to sanity.” Knowing laughter rippled through the crowd. “I really feel like with the Republicans . . . that there’s almost a collusion to all say things that aren’t . . . sane. So I want to really say thank you to you because you’re pleasant, you’re joyous, you’re happy. And your running for president is, I think, fundamentally an act of generosity.”
-- From a February 17, 2016, story in Vogue Magazine by Jonathan Van Meter covering Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her campaign in 2016, and referring back to her contest with Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in 2008, who won the Democratic presidential nomination.

Comment: Is Clinton indulging in the "they'll say anything" caricature with respect to herself? Also, the woman speaking to Clinton is deriding Republicans as not being sane.

"But I want to mention one more critical area: Protecting that most fundamental of rights—the right to vote. Across our country, Republican governors and legislatures are erecting one barrier after another that make it harder for black people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past, and we need to call it for what it is. And in the past few days the stakes got even higher. Justice Scalia’s passing means the court hangs in the balance. Now the Republicans say they’ll reject anyone President Obama nominates, no matter how qualified. Some are even saying he doesn’t have the right to nominate anyone, as if somehow he’s not the real president. That’s in keeping with what we’ve heard all along, isn’t it? Many Republicans talk in coded, racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe. This kind of hatred and bigotry has no place in our politics—or our country."
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, February 16, 2016.

Comment: Clinton is demonizing Republicans, calling them bigots. Clinton is also accusing Republicans of using "code words". Would it be appropriate for Republicans to say, "Clinton's rhetoric is code for Marxism and communism, we need to call it for what it is"?

"This is a kind of court unpacking. And it`s not just, you know, holding the president and his nominees hostage. It`s holding the country and its highest court hostage."
-- Legal scholar Laurence Tribe, February 15, 2016, referring to Republican resistance to President Barack Obama nominating a successor to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Comment: This is "hostage-taking" rhetoric.

"He is a liar, he is a hypocrite, and he hates America."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, February 15, 2016, referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Comment: In addition to calling him a liar and a hypocrite, Levin is demonizing Schumer as hating his country.

"The devil is back in Hell! Yay!"
-- Editor Charles Manning, February 13, 2016, in a tweet (later deleted) responding to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Comment: This is a clear case of demonizing.

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