Friday, September 30, 2016

The Greeks Had a Word for It, Latest Episode

This is ... strange.  Recently a couple of people I know linked to this Onion story from last March.  (In fact, numerous people have; you have to be logged in to Facebook to see this search result, but it shows that people have understood the story fairly consistently.  One of the people I know, a firm Hillarybot, kvelled, "THE ONION NAILS IT AGAIN!!"; the other moaned, "Great. I knew the owners were big Hillary fans, but this site has lost its edge and humor. This might as well have come straight from HuffPost. Shame."  I think they both misread it, as did most of the other people who linked to it.

The story, "Precious Little Voter Needs To Be Inspired by Candidate," goes like this:
Noting how important it is for him to find a campaign that stirs genuine optimism and enthusiasm in its supporters, sources confirmed Tuesday that precious little voter Adam Higgins needs to feel inspired by a candidate. “To be perfectly honest, I just can’t bring myself to vote for someone I’m not excited about,” said the delicate little flower, who simply has to experience an authentic and personal connection to a candidate and believe in his wittle-bitty heart that the candidate’s message will legitimately move the country forward in meaningful and significant ways. “Policies and experience are certainly important, but a candidate has to have a vision I truly believe in. I’m only going to cast a ballot for someone who actually provides real hope for the future of this country [because I need to feel all snuggly-wuggly and special].” Sources further confirmed the fragile, dainty buttercup feels he absolutely must vote for someone who is trustworthy and competent.
Most people who linked to it took this story pretty much at face value, not as satire, and assumed it was meant to mock supporters of Bernie Sanders who were angry because their guy didn't win the Democratic nomination.  Maybe they're right; the Onion has not always been well-crafted.  But notice a few things.  First, as I said, it was posted in March, when Sanders's campaign was generally considered almost as hopeless as Donald Trump's.  So it could have reflected the mainstream, establishment Democratic contempt for Sanders, but then it wouldn't really be satire; as the dissenter here suggested, it would have been more like the Huffington Post's idea of satire, or Daily Kos'.

Second, leaving timing aside, Clinton's supporters have been trying to convince themselves that she actually is inspiring, and only misogynists and women who deserve a special place in Hell refuse to be inspired by her.  And was it really so long ago that the more charismatic Barack Obama was being marketed to voters because he was inspiring? How soon we forget -- but then a well-disciplined memory is vitally important in these matters.

Then look at that last sentence, "he absolutely must vote for someone who is trustworthy and competent."  Leaving aside whether or not it's true, isn't that exactly Clinton's counterpart to "hope and change"?  But it's quite a swerve from "inspiring." So for that matter is "move the country forward in meaningful and significant ways," which Clinton's supporters want you to believe she'll do as well.

Everybody reads through their own lenses, of course, but it seems to me that the story's abusive language -- "precious little voter" and so on -- is laid on so thick that it has to be part of the joke.  He's mocked for wanting a trustworthy and competent candidate who'll move the country forward in meaningful and significant ways, no less than for wanting to feel a personal connection with her.  Party loyalists, after all, have been derisive ever since November 2008 of anyone who really, naively, childishly believed that Obama was going to be anything but a normal politician.  So is the main target of the satire this precious little voter, or the party loyalists who mock him for wanting a candidate he can want to vote for, instead of one he glumly, dutifully votes for to block a greater evil?  Maybe it is just me hearing echoes of Obamabots' "disappointment" line, their jeering at supposed purists picking at President Obama from their hermitage on Mount Disdain, to say nothing of their attacks on the drug-addled "fucking retards" of the left; but I don't think it's just me.  Maybe the Onion was tone-deaf in this piece; it's possible, they've done it before.  But I think it's Clinton supporters who are mistaken, taking the piece at face value.  It's not the first time liberal Democrats have shown themselves confused about the workings of satire.