Thursday, October 16, 2008
Air Quotes Are Dangerous Things
Gut reacton: Dude, those are actual living people you're talking about.
Setting aside the atypically far-right stance on abortion he took last night (he usually hedges his bets a bit better) what's kind of interesting here is that odds are, Senator McCain is blind to the emotional connotation of the air quotes. He wanted to highlight the word "health" -- like I just did right there -- banged out the air quotes and those combined with his really, really angry tone last night pushed the delivery into outright scorn.
You can see it happening, too. McCain think he has Obama, (based on a lie, but we'll let that ghost on by) but then Obama's giving one of his grown-up nuanced answers, which in McCain's head is "That sonuvabitch is trying to weasel out of the question like he always does and no one's going to notice-why-doesn't-anyone-notice-GAAARRGHHHH".
McCain monomaniacally goes after what he feels is the "weasel" part of Obama's argument, completely ignoring what the "weasel" part of the means to people in the sense of the larger argument.
Unfortunately, that part of the argument is the one that keeps a woman from dying in the delivery room against her will. Whoops.
And -- as is often ignored -- from a man's point of view: that part of the argument is the one that keeps your wife from dying in the delivery room because some asshole said she had to. Big fucking whoops.
According to a Time poll, "Health of the mother" along with exceptions for rape or incest victims jumps support for abortion rights from 46% to 86%. "Health of the mother" is one of the few terms which punches an empathic hole right through the walls of the abortion factions, because, well, see above.
Again, I don't actually believe McCain is openly scornful of the "health of the mother" in this issue, but his anger towards Obama made him seem so. It's fascinating -- in fiction we often create characters undone by a single, glaring flaw, for illustrative purposes. But here in the real world, we can see that every problem John McCain had in his presidential campaign was created by his lack of impulse control. A life, a character literally unravelled by his own anger.