Quote Of The Day: Big Orange Weasel Edition

>> Friday, January 07, 2011

"The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That's good enough for me," Boehner, R-Ohio, told NBC 's Brian Williams in an interview to air Thursday night on NBC Nightly News.

Pressed by Williams on what he would say to members of his party who have expressed doubts about Obama's citizenry, Boehner replied: "Brian, when you come to the Congress of the United States, there are 435 of us. We're nothing more than a slice of America. People come, regardless of party labels, they come with all kinds of beliefs and ideas. It's the melting pot of America. It's not up to me to tell them what to think."

No. No, no, no.

Okay, look, see: the difference between a fact and an opinion is that a fact has some kind of objective validity that everybody can agree on while an opinion is something that is just subjectively true for an individual or group of individuals. "Tomatoes are bleh" is an opinion (one I disagree with, myself, but that's not the point). It's alright for somebody not to like tomatoes, that's entirely their loss. But "That milk is a whole month past the expiration date," on the other hand, is a fact that can be checked and verified; "It smells funny and I don't think you should drink it," isn't so much you telling somebody what to think as it is pointing out that their erroneous belief could have adverse consequences.

I mean, okay, I guess you could say that "I don't think you should drink it" is kind of telling the other person what to think and bossing them around a bit. But if the result of your failure to tell them they were making an error of judgment was that they poured a big hunk of reeking curds in their mouth straight from the carton and went to the hospital fifteen minutes later, I kind of hope maybe you'd feel sort of bad about it. Sort of responsible. Because maybe they would have done something stupid anyway, but maybe your thoughtful alertness would save them agonized hours of trying to puke out their entire stomach lining and not getting to go to Disneyland with their family because they were in the hospital and then bedridden all because they exercised poor milk-drinking judgment.

It could happen, you know.

There's really two possibilities, all-in-all, when it comes to the President's birth documentation. One possibility is that it's authentic, that the Certificate Of Live Birth is a legitimate document proving President Obama's birth on American soil, and all is what it appears to be. And then there's the other possibility, which is that there is an enormous and elaborate conspiracy extending nearly five decades and implicating (as participants or patsies) everybody from the newspaper editors who published the announcement of President Obama's birth in the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 1961 to Hilary Clinton (who wanted to be President in 2008 and would have readily seized a chance to eliminate her strongest opponent from the running) and John McCain (ditto). And there's a principle of critical thinking called Occam's Razor or the Principle Of Parsimony that suggests that, all things otherwise being equal, if you have two (or more) possible explanations for something, we should lean towards the one that makes the fewest new assumptions so long as it retains sufficient explanatory power.

I.e. the batshit crazy conspiracy theory that involves a half-century of bizarre machinations and apparent sacrifices by self-interested parties and various forgeries and lies and complicities by people and businesses who don't have any apparent reason to be complicit, etc. is a lot less likely than the obvious explanation that there's a lot of evidence that Barack Obama was born in Hawai'i because, as a matter of fact, he was born in Hawai'i.

So, really, you could, Rep. Boehner, if you really wanted to, tell your "birther" colleagues that their belief is irrational and inconsistent with known facts. Pointing out to them that if Senator McCain's presumably capable research team1 had discovered evidence that Barack Obama was a Kenyan national, there would probably be a Republican in the White House now, and do they really think Senator McCain is part of the conspiracy isn't so much a matter of "differing opinions" as it is a matter of "stating the bleeding obvious".

But, see, I suspect you know all that.

See, I think your quote reflects something else.

I think it validates my opinion that you and much of the Republican leadership are cynical, opportunistic, hypocritical and intellectually bankrupt assholes.

See, I think you know the President is an American citizen. But you think the smart play is to humor the paranoid idiots in your party who cling to the irrational belief that a black, left-of-center, Democratic President is such a violation of the Natural Order™ and Way Things Ought To Be™ that it must be the product of some malicious Machiavellian conspiracy of the highest order--no Real American™ would vote for someone who is obviously a Kenyan Socialist (he certainly isn't a white conservative, so what else could he be?) unless they were horribly mislead by Dark Forces, etc. Because you're simply out of ideas, having watched your traditional domestic and foreign policy portfolios repeatedly crack and collapse against reality, you can't just ignore the idjits and move on, and to try educating them or even merely just openly stating that they're wrong would risk alienating them and their votes and campaign donations (or worse yet, triggering yet another rash of primary apocalypses like the ones that cost you Senate seats in Nevada and Delaware last year)---well, like I said, you reckon the smart play is to humor the jackasses.

Should I point out that you're playing a short game, Representative? I won't argue with you that humoring the fools is a smart play--in the short game. But in the long game, what are you doing? Letting these people take over and ultimately finish off your party? Sacrificing whatever credibility you might otherwise have, however little, for the sake of cobbling together a big tent of circus freaks, sideshow carnies, trained animals and ridiculous clowns? And can the country you profess to love so much afford these shenanigans in the long run, really?

I've had some fun at your expense in here, but let's be honest: your comments to NBC were actually pretty disgusting. Here's the rub: I think you're a douchebag, Representative Boehner, but I'd love to be proven wrong. I don't like being right about something like that. I'd like to be able to say, "Y'know what, I really had that Boehner guy pegged wrong--he's kind of alright." (I won't lie: "kind of alright" might be the best you'd get out of me, but it's actually pretty high praise for a professional politician from any party.)


You're off to a fine start, Congressman.

1Granted, the obvious rebuttal to this would be, "If John McCain's research team is so awesome, how come their expert vetting and thorough background check failed to unearth the fact Sarah Palin is obviously a moron?" But I don't think you have to worry about dodging that one: your colleagues-in-question are Republican Tea Party types. They think Sarah Palin is smart because she recalls reading The Pearl, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Animal Farm and "anything by C.S. Lewis" after she had time to think about it and confer with Lynn Vincent (also, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and Ranger Rick on the periodicals side) (Going Rogue, p. 27). Anyway, they're unlikely to have noticed Ms. Palin's an idiot, so you don't have to worry about them pointing out that Senator Senator McCain missed it, too.


sheila, who isn't lurking today, either,,  Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 11:40:00 PM EST  


You make excellent points, sir.

I have to admit that the entire conspiracy theory about Obama's birth certificate has always baffled me.

It implies that a group of sane people in 1961, the year of Mr. Obama's birth, honestly believed that a black or mixed-race person would become president a mere 47 years later. Heck, if you had suggested to me in 1998 that a black man would be elected president in the next ten years, I'd have thought you were delusional.

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