Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm -yawn- outraged

Yesterday, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Rep. John Boehner, the Republican minority leader in the House, defended staying the course in Iraq with these words.
We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda here, if we’re able to stabilize the Middle East, it’s not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.

A few bloggers picked up on the fact that he was calling 4000 Ameican deaths "a small price." When liberals or Democrats call those same 4000 deaths "wasted" we exprerience a tsunami of of media and pundit outrage. But for Boehner... not so much.

Today, after reading the blogs and noticing what they should have been paying attention to, a few Democrats and pundits are jumping on board.
Now the first Democrat has stepped forward to fault Boehner for the remark: John Kerry. The Massachusetts Senator has posted a piece over at The Huffington Post responding to our story and demanding an apology from Boehner. Kerry writes:

"What a stunningly cavalier statement about the lives of the young men and women who serve our country.

"Whether you support or oppose the Bush escalation, no American should ever for even a moment think the cost of war is small.

"A single life is a large price to pay for any endeavor. Sometimes, in our national interest, we choose to pay that awful price, but we must always make sure that the policy is worthy of it.

"Visit our wounded warriors at Walter Reed hospital and ask whether the price they paid was small. Talk to the mothers, fathers, husbands and wives of those who have been killed and ask them to measure the price of war. Young lives stopped short, children who won't have a mother or father there as they grow up, when they graduate, when they get married -- that loss is many things, but it is not small.

"Where is Representative Boehner's apology?"

And here:
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Chris Van Hollen, who oversees the 2008 House races for Dems, has just emailed over this statement demanding that Boehner apologize to the military and their families:

"To belittle the sacrifice of more than 30,000 brave Americans killed or injured in Iraq as a ‘small price’ is reprehensible. Clearly, Minority Leader John Boehner will say anything to justify George Bush’s stay the course approach, but this damaging rhetoric has no place in the debate about the new direction needed in Iraq. Minority Leader Boehner owes our military and their families an apology for his hurtful comments that minimize their tragic loss."

And here:
"Boehner’s comments yesterday are deplorable and he should apologize immediately," Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean said in a statement emailed to Election Central. "Bohener’s comments show how truly out of touch the Republicans are. The loss of a son or daughter is never a small price to pay, especially for a policy which was initiated by Republicans who misled the nation about why we are there."

While I'm glad Boehner has been called to the carpet, I'm a bit disappointed in the formulaic manner in which it has come. "I'm outraged that _____ said _____ about _____ and demand that he apologize to _____" has become one of the great cliche's of recent political rhetoric. The press release could be issued as a fill in the blank form letter using the text I just provided. Faux outrage is the laziest form of gotcha politics. And the outrage is phoney. Outrage requires surprise, a sence of "how could you say that." Who is surprised that Boehner said that? He is a silly, shallow man (with a great tan) with a history of saying silly, shallow things. His message is one that the right have been pushing for years. A "small price" is no different than comparing Iraq deaths to American traffic statistics or the murder rate in Washington, DC. Hearing this insensitive message one more time from the right should suprise no one.

Worse, as a rhetorical tactic, it is no longer effective. Who believes these demonstrations of faux outrage? Who cares about the carefully parsed non-apologies? Unfortunately, news, politics and blogging thrive on the mini-drama of the moment. The saddest point is that constant repititions of faux outrage deprive real outrage of its effectiveness. If the public can no longer tell the difference between the truly outrageous and the merely stupid, we have only ourselves to blame.

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