Sunday, February 28, 2016

Civility Watchdog Digest: February 28, 2016

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"You all have friends thinking about voting for Donald Trump. Friends do not let friends vote for con artists. All right, so you want to have a little fun? All right, what is Donald Trump do when things go wrong? He takes to Twitter. I have him right here. Let's read some. You'll have fun. All right, number one, here's the first one, "Lightweight Marco Rubio was working hard last night." This is true. "The problem is, he is a chocker. And once a chocker, always a choker." I guess that's what he meant to say. He spelled choker, C-H-O-C-K-E-R, chocker. He called me Mr. Meltdown. Let me tell you something, during one of the breaks, two of the breaks, he went backstage, he was having a meltdown. First, he had this little makeup thing applying, like, makeup around his mustache, because he had one of those sweat mustaches. He wanted a full-length mirror. Maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet. I don't know. Then I see him pacing back and forth, and then he is huddled in the corner talking to somebody, waving his arm up and down and the person trying to calm him down. Any way, but I'm a chocker. All right, next tweet. "Leight weight chocker, Marco Rubio, looks like a little boy on stage, not presidential material." He meant to say lightweight, but he spelled it L-E-I-G-H T, so he got it wrong. "Looks like a little boy on stage." It's not that I look like a little boy, it's not that I would be the youngest president but he would be the oldest president ever elected. So you start to worry. All right, last one, "Wow, every poll said I won the debate last night." Now, this is him about himself, OK. "Great honer." I think he meant to say "honor." I don't know how he got that wrong, because the "E" and "O" are nowhere near each other oh there on the keyboard. That's what I'm thinking. So how do this guy three tweets misspell words so badly? I only reach two conclusions. Number one, that's how they spell those words at the Wharton School of Business where he went. Or number two, just like Trump Tower, he must have hired a foreign worker to do his own tweets. All right, so guys, we have a con artist as the front-runner in the Republican Party. A guy, a guy who has made a career out of telling people lies so they come in and buy his product or whatever he does. You ever heard of Trump vodka. You have? Well, it isn't around any more. Or a Trump mattress, or Trump air, or Trump ice or Trump water. Those are all businesses that are gone, because they were disasters. Trump hot air, yeah."
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), February 26, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Rubio is mocking Trump for his gaffes, as well for Trump's mocking of Rubio. It's not clear how much (if any) of this is meant comically.

TRUMP: We won the evangelicals, we won with young, we won with old, we won with highly educated, we won with poorly educated - I love the poorly educated!

O'REILLY: That was a smart statement because by saying he loves the poorly educated, Trump is slapping the elites whom many voters despise.
-- Pundit Bill O'Reilly, February 24, 2016, commenting on remarks made the previous day by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump upon winning the GOP Nevada Caucus.

Comment: O'Reilly is suggesting that Trump is using code words.

The father of Sabermetrics is clearly not a fan of Donald Trump, and he is using his own statistical analysis to explain why the Republican front-runner will not be the 45th president of the United States.

In a post published this week to his website titled "Trump, as in Rump," author Bill James, who is known as one of the pioneers of the analysis of baseball and in-game statistics, broke down his reasoning in a variety of ways.

"I don’t think that Trump can win, frankly, because I don’t think there are enough morons to elect him. A certain percentage of the American public is just morons; that’s the way it is," James wrote in one section. "When you divide the public in two then divide the voters in one of those halves among five candidates or more, a candidate can win by dominating the moron vote because it only takes about one-seventh of the total population to take the 'lead' under those circumstances."

But in a general election situation, James posited, "when you’re talking about needing 51 percent of the whole population, rather than needing 30 percent of half of the population, you run out of morons. I hope we will."

"I hope Trump will lose, because I hope he runs out of morons to vote for him. Again, I stress that I am not trying to tell you what you should think about Donald Trump. I am merely telling you what I think about him," he said. (In his Tuesday night victory speech, Trump noted his support among Americans without college degrees, remarking, "I love the poorly educated.")
-- From a February 24, 2016, story by Nick Gass of Politico.

Comment: "Morons" is a form of "stupid" name-calling.

"Patrick Leahy looks like E.T. all grown up, about 10 times more unattractive."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, February 24, 2016, in the 3rd hour of his radio show, referring to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and the alien in the film "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial".

Comment: This is name-calling, I'm guessing of the "disgusting" variety.


If Hillary Clinton manages to beat Bernie Sanders, the early primaries have already revealed that there’s only one strategy for the general election against a Republican, be it Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz: Scorch the earth.

There was a scenario, which looks more like a fantasy, in which Clinton was a movement. Women in their twenties, thirties, and forties would rally to her the way black Americans rallied to Obama; she would run on her own mantle of change.

In reality, nobody is that excited about Hillary Clinton, and young voters, women and men — the foot soldiers of any Democratic Party movement — aren’t coming around. She lost a resounding 82% of voters under 30 in Nevada. Her campaign now rests on the hope that voters of color like her well enough, if nowhere near as much as they like Obama. And that means that when she faces a Republican, she will have to destroy him — something the people who will be doing the destroying acknowledged when I asked them earlier this month.

“The slogan is ‘Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid,’” said Paul Begala, who is an adviser to the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA.

Begala’s group works on the negative side of the political ledger, and he argued that Clinton will have supporters — Sanders among them — helping to rally Democrats. But he and other top Democratic operatives agreed that 2016 will be, as the technical term for negative politics goes, “a contrast election.” “This is headed to a more contrastive kind of election,” said David Axelrod, the architect of Obama’s 2008 campaign. “People want to know you’re going to lead with a positive vision, but within the context of that, you can set up a contrast. Every campaign has to do that, she may have to do it more intensely.”
-- From a February 24, 2016, BuzzFeed story by Ben Smith about Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Comment: This is "negative politics" rhetoric. How much of what the article describes is inappropriate behavior?

"We have been dealing, in the last seven years, with an unprecedented level of obstructionism against President Obama. Literally, it turns out, on the day that Obama was inaugurated, Republicans came together and said, what are we going to do? And what they concluded is we're going to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, make it as difficult as he could to do anything. Now, we have had to fight through that and I've been at the president's side time and time again, getting a stimulus bill through when we were in the midst of a horrendous recession, The Affordable Care Act, etc. etc. etc. But what you are seeing today in this Supreme Court situation is nothing more than the continuous and unprecedented obstructionism that President Obama has gone through. And this -- and this is on top of this birther issue, which we heard from Donald Trump and others, a racist effort to try to de-legitimize the president of the United States."
-- Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), February 23, 2016.

Comment: Sanders is accusing Republicans of obstruction. He says that the the "birther" movement that claimed Obama wasn't born in the U.S.A. – and perhaps the obstruction from Republicans more generally? – is based on bigotry. His remarks involve a variety of generalizations and exaggerations: how many Republicans "came together" and declared they would obstruct everything Obama wanted to do? How many Republicans supported the "birther" movement? And, in opposing any piece of Obama's agenda, how many Republicans did it as a matter of racism against Obama as opposed to a legitimate difference of opinion? Is Sanders part of an effort to "delegitimize" all opposition to Obama, or would that also be an exaggeration?

Just left the caucus site. Some of the nastiest people I have ever been with. (Trump supporters). We have their hate and rage on tape. Others around them were embarrassed for them. It was scary and sad. … All candidates have someone speak for them at the caucus. In the middle of my speech Trump walked in. Thank God, I was just saying "Don't give in to hatred and rage. America is great because America is good. Anyone that plays to the worst part of us, your rage and anger is not helping us become good." I believe Trump, whether he knows it or not, is grooming brown shirts. Don't believe me, go to a caucus. He is even smaller in person than I remember. I think it is simply what he says that make him appear that way.
-- Pundit Glenn Beck, February 23, 2016.

Comment: Beck is comparing Trump supporters to Nazis.

"Rick is a really good spokesman who had the unenviable task of working for a candidate willing to do or say anything to get elected".
-- Alex Conant, communications director for the campaign of Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), February 22, 2016. He was referring to Rick Tyler, spokesperson for the campaign of Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who fired Tyler earlier that day.

Comment: This is the "they'll say anything" caricature.

"Our next president has to be someone that can bring this country together, some level of unity. Not unanimity, we're not going to agree on every issue, but someone that will seek to unite Americans, not pit us against each other".
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), February 20, 2016.

Comment: This is "unify the country" rhetoric.

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