It’s good to be a gangster

George Will defends the crazy:

After six years in the state Legislature, she ran for Congress and now, in her second term, has become such a burr under Democrats' saddles that recently the New York Times profiled her beneath a Page One headline: "GOP Has a Lightning Rod, and Her Name Is Not Palin." She is, however, a petite pistol that occasionally goes off half-cocked.

For example, appearing on MSNBC's "Hardball" 18 days before last year's election, she made the mistake of taking Chris Matthews's bait and speculating about whether Barack Obama and some other Democrats have "anti-American" views. In the ensuing uproar — fueled by people who were not comparably scandalized when George W. Bush was sulfurously vilified — her opponent raised nearly $2 million and her lead shrank from 13 points to her winning margin of three.

Well, as Will is fond of saying as he prepares an objection, the unspecified sulfurous vilification on the part of an unidentified some does not justify the loony-toons McCarthyism of a member of the United States House of Representatives.

More funny, however, is Will's defense of Bachmann.  He writes:

Some of her supposed excesses are, however, not merely defensible, they are admirable. For example, her June 9 statement on the House floor in which she spoke of "gangster government" has been viewed on the Internet about 2 million times. She noted that, during the federal takeover of General Motors, a Democratic senator and one of her Democratic House colleagues each successfully intervened with GM to save a constituent's dealership from forced closure. One of her constituents, whose dealership had been in the family for 90 years, told her that the $15 million dealership had been rendered worthless overnight, and, Bachmann said, "GM is demanding that she hand over her customer list," probably to give it to surviving GM dealerships that once were competitors.

In her statement, Bachmann repeatedly called such politicization of the allocation of economic rewards "gangster government." And she repeatedly noted that the phrase was used by a respected political analyst, Michael Barone, principal co-author of the Almanac of American Politics, who coined it in connection with the mugging of GM bondholders in the politicized bankruptcy. Bachmann, like Barone, was accurate.

Some of Bachmann's excesses are defensible because (1) her speech on the house floor has been viewed 2 million times; (2) "respected political analyst (and not definitely right wing hack) Michael Barone coined the term she used repeatedly to describe the actions of a government run by a black guy.  I wonder if the term would have been as effective if the President were a white guy from Texas.  Probably not.  To open up a parenthesis, here's Michael Barone on the Democratic party (via Steve Benen):

that the Republican Party is the party of people who are considered, by themselves and by others, as normal Americans—Northern white Protestants in the 19th century, married white Christians more recently—while the Democratic Party is the party of the out groups who are in some sense seen, by themselves and by others, as not normal—white Southerners and Catholic immigrants in the 19th century, blacks and white seculars more recently.

Ah, normality–certainly a guy with views like that would mean gangster only in the most innocuous way. 

Anyway, back to the point.  One might concede that the bankruptcy of GM was politicized.  That's like the discovery of hot water.  Is it proper to describe political actions you don't agree with as a "mugging" or "gangster"?  I don't think so. 

UPDATE: turns out the "gangster government" allegation was shown to be false a mere two days after it was made.

4 thoughts on “It’s good to be a gangster”

  1. Now, come on John, that’s not really fair — Will is only defending SOME crazies; specifically those ranting ideologues incapable of reasoned argument who share his political orientation. I doubt he would ever spread his defense so widely as to include those who were just generally insane …

    (I feel so left out …)

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