Friday, August 03, 2007

All Right - I'll play a little...but just for fun, Clint

Clint Brewer's triumphant celebration of his polling data lacks substance and relies on an allusion to a phrase deployed by Spiro Agnew to dodge discussions of his flaws (like tax fraud). I'll have a little fun with the allusion. It doesn't help his claims. As Inigo Montoya said in The Princess Bride, "I don't think that word means what you think it does."

The phrase, "nattering nabobs of negativism," was originated by Spiro Agnew. It is the argumentative equivalent of "you stink." As Agnew was being nailed to the wall for tax evasion and the Nixon administration's Vietnam policy was falling apart, Agnew was reduced to complaining frequently about the harsh criticism he experienced from the news media.

It's kind of ironic that the phrase would be deployed BY a member of the media against the criticism that the media has become a tool of the mainstream. Simply pointing out that polling and the "horse race" coverage of elections shifts attention from the real issues, I have become a nabob.

It was Agnew who preferred not to have to face criticism by what was then a watchdog press; holding people in power accountable.

Today, it is bloggers who try to hold the mainstream press accountable. The nattering nabobs of negativism were the good guys when they held Agnew accountable, and it seems to me that nabobs in this case may well do the same thing with a press that has lost its way a bit. The "nabobs" were right about Agnew's tax fraud. They were right about Nixon's criminal activities, and they were right about bombing Cambodia and Laos. The mainstream guys (Agnew and Nixon) didn't want to hear it, but since they were wrong, all they could do was dismiss criticism with name calling.

For the record, I agree completely with Clint's observations about Gentry's having run a solid campaign. My main points about polls, however, are not addressed in this triumphalist post, but you can read those elsewhere if you want to.

Here's to the nabobs. They usually force us to think.

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