Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Trash-Talking President

The Wall Street Journal analyzes whether our President's penchant for getting personal with partisan insults is a good thing.

Taunting enemies in battle is traditional in African societies, and blacks brought that tradition to America with them, where it became known as the dozens. Translated to the field of sports, it is the diametric opposite of the genteel, Anglo-American tradition of sportsmanship. In contemporary professional sports, especially those dominated by African-Americans, trash-talking and taunting is the norm, so much so that in football rules were instituted to minimize the ill-will that such behavior causes.

Our president is simply employing a part of African-American tradition that is common in sports and music, but uncommon in politics. Politics isn't always a pretty field of endeavor, but parliamentary procedures have kept things civil for over 100 years; I'd rather not see fistfights and duels and canings in the halls of Congress, as was the case before the Civil War. Trash-talking coarsens the culture, which is coarse enough already.

(although I'm sure it will be pointed out to me that I've advocated trading insult for insult in the past; unanswered insults irreparably damaged George W. Bush's presidency, although in retrospect his good manners and lack of vindictiveness have come to be admired.)


Borepatch said...

Are you kidding? I think that all members of Congress should be caned, on general principles.

Bob said...

I first heard the Preston Brooks caning story as a junior in high school. Our US History teacher, Mr. Jackson, (don't know if he was related to Stonewall), who was skeletally thin with pale blue eyes and looked like he stepped out of a tintype himself, told us the story; rather approvingly, I might add, which would probably get him in trouble in these more PC times.

wally said...

Sometimes you are just beyond belief, Robert.