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Tacking Right —

May 31, 2012
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Warning: This post reflects the views of Atchka/Shannon and not Fierce, Freethinking Fatties. If you don’t want to hear me trash talk Teabaggers, then skip this post for your own sake.

If you’re going to read this blog, then there’s something you need to know about me.

I’m an unabashed liberal, and apparently a socialist per Jon Stewart’s epic “Communism Central”  segment.

However, it should also be stated for the record that in the year 2000, during my first presidential election, I voted for…

No.

No, I can’t say it. I can’t go back to those dark days of cognitive dissonance and single-issue politics.

You see, I’m a cradle Catholic raised by a mother who converted to Catholicism after a wild and reckless youth. And while cradle Catholics have a tendency to lapse, Catholic converts tend to be a little more… enthusiastic?

Since we’re raised on the politics of our parents, that meant I spent my early youth as a Pro-Life Cathopublican. When you’re as focused on a single issue as we were, it can be difficult to reconcile those beliefs with the broader Catholic  message of social justice, which runs to its core (Note: I’m speaking of Catholicism in general, not about the Pope or the Vatican, but the culture of Catholicism that I was part of for over two decades.)

As with the stubbly caterpillar, so the Cathopublican enters the chrysalis of college, spinning a cocoon of liberal Catholicism and social justice from its spinnerets.

Nine months later, it emerges for the first time, stretching its still-glistening wings as a delicate Liberalic, supporting birth control and the political right to abortion. My take? If you want to prevent abortions, then promote education. Period.

But beyond the issue of abortion, there are a whole host of social justice issues which the Republican Party not only neglects, but actively works to exacerbate. I’m sure there are Republicans who will disagree, and I invite them to do so, but for my money (and barring a viable third party) the Democratic Party aligns with my beliefs in terms of social justice on issues such as economics, poverty, drug policy, civil rights, socialism, education, the just war theory and many other issues.

The other thing you should know is that I’m politically tone deaf.

Everything I said may have just pissed off everybody in the room, but I’ve never really been capable of adhering to contemporary social conventions, such as the “no politics or religion” rule. My wife, Veronica, has taken to starting any interaction we have with other people by stipulating that politics will not be a topic of conversation.

I can’t help it. I hate small talk, I don’t follow pop culture or television, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a passionate conversation. Turns out I’m the only one in my family like that, which can sometimes make holidays awkward.

So, in summary, yes, I am “that guy,” which is probably why so many people don’t like me since the majority of people prefer pleasant, drama free conversations.

We launched Fierce, Freethinking Fatties two years ago, and I’m fairly certain (though not 100%) that in all that time, the American political system has never come up in a blog post (though comments are another thing entirely). At the very least, it happens so infrequently as to be forgettable.

But this post requires a bit of political commentary because the subject is the political pundit, Meghan McCain, daughter of former Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Meghan recently criticized the extreme right on MSNBC and, in response, was verbally assaulted by a far right collective of knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, tick-eating troglodytes.

And when you want to take down Meghan McCain, what’s the ammo of choice?

Fat hatred and misogyny with a hint of treason.

(Note for Non-Tweeters: Tweets go chronologically from the top down)

Bear in mind, these are just the tweets that Meghan shared on Twitter, which I think is really fierce.

And what did Meghan say that inspired the contempt of her peers?

Per HuffPo:

“If you’re not an extreme right-wing conservative… you’re given no respect.”

Later, McCain reflected on what she perceived as the shift to extremism in the GOP, and called out two prominent conservative bloggers. “I wish I knew more where it came from I don’t understand the popularity of Michelle Malkin and Andrew Breitbart and people who exacerbate people’s fears,” she said.

Yes, Andrew Breitbart recently died, but his site will go on and on, already re-stoking the birther fires with the story of President Obama’s literary biography that states he was born in Kenya (even if Obama was born in Kenya, the definition of “natural born citizen” includes a child born overseas to least one American citizen, which included both John McCain (born in Panama) and Mitt Romney’s dad, George (born in Mexico).

Even in death, Breitbart’s work and his philosophy continue to inspire the Teabaggers* to obstruct political progress in an attempt to derail President Obama’s first term. Nothing she said was disrespectful toward Breitbart or Malkin. She said she believes they exacerbate people’s fears, which they do on a regular basis. It’s their bread and butter.

But rather than respond by defending Breitbart and Malkin as noble defenders of conservatism, McCain’s critics chose the route that has broken the Republican party down into it’s most extreme and toxic elements: bullying.

Political bullies are intellectually bankrupt. They can’t argue on the merits of their beliefs, so they take the political and make it personal. They accuse their “opponents” (even those who identify as Republicans) of hating their country, of appeasing Democrats, of pissing on Ronald Regan’s grave. They have no real foundation on which to debate the issues, so they resort to superficial name-calling and the denigration of moral character.

And when political bullies want to really get under someone’s skin, they reach for America’s favorite epithet: fat.

Nevermind the fact that Meghan McCain, while larger than a supermodel to be sure, isn’t fat in the least. She even has to wear a Fat Hat to remind people of her morbid obesity:

Even the minor presence of body fat opens one up to the “insult” of being called fat.

Of course, this isn’t an isolated incident. Glenn Beck called McCain fat when she appeared “naked” in a PSA about skin cancer. After McCain criticized walking hate sack Ann Coulter, Coulter’s doppelganger, Laura Ingraham, referred to McCain a plus-sized model. After the backlash, Ingraham attempted to maintain plausible deniability by claiming “I never called Meghan McCain fat.”

Regardless, it’s obvious that calling a female political opponent “fat” has become a potent, and popular, attack. And not just on the right, mind you. I wrote long, long ago about how Huffington Post had become a petri dish of left-wing fat hatred and body snark. Just try to read the comments on any post about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and you’ll see what I mean.

It turns out the old, oft-quoted adage that “you get the government you deserve” is pretty accurate. Our society has become increasingly superficial, immature and cruel, exemplified by DoucheLord, Tosh.0. It’s sad, but it may just be that we, as a nation, are incapable of the kind of rational, respectful dialogue that one can only really find on The Daily Show any more.

Personally, I believe productive political discourse finally died in 1994, after the Republican Revolution, when Newt Gingrich led the charge to destroy Bill Clinton’s presidency at whatever cost. Since 1994, the rhetoric has only gotten louder, meaner and dumber.

But how do we respond to this childish turn for the worst? How do we deal with a political environment where the biggest bully wins?

Simple: Don’t fear bullies. Expose them for the insignificant twits they are.

Meghan did an amazing, and powerful, thing by reblogging her critics and letting her friends and fans see exactly what kind of attacks they were launching.

And these aren’t the objections of an informed electorate incensed by Meghan’s concern for extremism in her party. These are the frightened cries of children who have nothing more to offer than their colicky cries of political impurity and physical imperfection.

Although I would love to see the kind of domination that the Democrats held from the Great Depression through the Regan Revolution, and a return to the kind of financial investment that made these decades a boon for the middle class, I certainly don’t want to be stuck with a single, extreme alternative.

After the Teabagging Tidal Wave of 2010, any hope for bipartisan progress completely evaporated. Ever since we’ve been dealing with the tantrum-throwing antics of an intractable, infantile party that will use every tool in its arsenal to affect Obama’s failure.

So, although I am a staunch Democrat, just like my 96-year-old Grandma Kate (and for the exact same reasons), I would like to see the Republican Party return to its moderate roots. And although I may not agree with Meghan McCain’s economic positions, I admire her willingness to stand up to the homophobic bigots and the hypocrisy of the anti-abortion/anti-contraception stance.

I feel weird saying this, but I honestly believe that if Meghan McCain continues her courageous stance as a moderate Republican, she (along with Andrew Sullivan and others) may become the future face of conservative politics.

But first, conservatives must realize just how toxic the Teabags have become, which is still many years away.

Until then, I applaud Meghan McCain for responding to the bullies in a way that teaches women to be fearless in the face of hatred and bigotry. Whatever her ideological flaws, she embodies the confidence and character needed to lead the Republican Party of their Dark Ages.

*I don’t care what they say, they are Teabaggers. When the Obama-haters movement launched in early 2009, an early proponent was Griff Jenkins, a Fox News producer who famously encouraged people to “Tea bag the White House”, as well as shapeshifter Charles Krauthammer. In fact, there’s a well-documented history of right-wing Teabagging long before Rachel Maddow ruthlessly mocked the teabagging extremists into adopting the single entendre, Tea Party. And even after Maddow’s mockery, Andrew Breitbart posted a video attempting to reclaim Teabagger. So, sorry Tea Party, but in my heart you’ll always be a bunch of Teabaggers.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2012 12:10 pm

    Facepalmed the moment I read those tweets.

  2. Novathecat permalink
    May 31, 2012 12:19 pm

    This is why politics should be banned from a fat acceptance blog. As a libertarian, I am very offended by the term “teabagger” to describe the tea party. This is sophomoric and unnecessary to make your point. Fat hatred transcends politics and is ugly on both sides.

    • L.J. Utter permalink
      May 31, 2012 12:32 pm

      Amen

    • May 31, 2012 12:42 pm

      First of all, did you miss where I said that fat hatred occurs on both sides? I have gone back and added a disclaimer to clarify that these are my opinions and not the opinions of our Fat Acceptance site. I chose to comment on the Tea Party because this post deals specifically with the way they have enforced “purity” throughout the Republican Party.

      And you’re not the only one who’s offended. I’m perpetually offended by the actions of the Tea Party, like Senator Joe Walsh who recently said:

      “The Democratic Party promises groups of people everything. They want the Hispanic vote, they want Hispanics to be dependent on government, just like they got African Americans dependent on government. That’s their game.”

      Walsh has a history of making racist and offensive remarks, and he’s also a Teabagging darling. Furthermore, Walsh himself exemplifies the bully politician, as evidenced in this video where he yells repeatedly at a constituent who calmly disagrees with him:

      As far as that term goes, I’m sorry it offends you, but as I stated in the footnote, it was originally used by some of the founding members of the Tea Party because they thought it was HI-larious to talk about teabagging the President.

      Tea Bag the President

      But once people starting mocking the Teabaggers, they changed it. And, I’m sorry, but I find it utterly ridiculous that with this history, anyone to claim that it’s offensive when it was originally used as an offensive attack on the office of the President.

      When it comes to politics, I don’t mince words, and in a blatantly political post I’m not going to tiptoe around the fact that I think the Tea Party is one of the most toxic political parties ever, and has become a poison pill for our country. I apologize if that offends you, but that is the way I write about all subjects, including Fat Acceptance.

      On the bright side, this is the only blatantly political post I’ve done on here and I will likely reserve any future political mutterings for my dormant blog. But this is an issue that cut through multiple subjects I’m passionate about and the only way I know how to write is honestly and with passion, and that’s what I’ve done here.

      Peace,
      Shannon

    • vesta44 permalink
      May 31, 2012 12:50 pm

      Novathecat – but when politics affects everything we do as fat acceptance bloggers/activists, it’s difficult to ban it entirely. When politicians are more concerned with name-calling and bullying than actually accomplishing anything that is going to move this country forward, then it behooves us to call them out on their behavior and take them to task for it. After all, it is our taxes that pay their salary and benefits, theywork for us, not the other way ’round, which is what most politicians seem to think. And when members of the Tea Party let things like this happen without speaking out against it, they are condoning it, and deserve to be called teabaggers.

  3. L.J. Utter permalink
    May 31, 2012 12:32 pm

    For a moment, I thought if you were taking on McCain’s opponents, it could be done without the extreme biased slant. Whoops, my bad. Can’t recall seeing an article without the word Teabagger that many times.
    It’s amusing that while we can attack and call people out for calling Ms. McCain fat, the message is diluted due to all the political rhetoric. I consider myself an independent conservative (fiscally conservative and socially liberal), and rhetoric on both sides leaves a bad taste in my mouth. You claim that more right wingers need to be moderate. Well, so do extreme liberals apparently. This could have been done without throwing the term Teabaggers around so much. Just as people cannot assume how much exercise we get or how healthy we are as fatties, don’t assume all of someone’s politics based on what box they check on their voter ID. The message got lost in the slant

    • May 31, 2012 12:50 pm

      LJ,
      Again, sorry if I offended, but this is how I feel about the Teabagging movement within the Republican Party. Since the 2010 elections, those who were voted into office as part of the “Tea Party movement” have done nothing but obstruct compromise and drive this country to the brink of disaster multiple times.

      And this post is not just about McCain being called fat, it’s about the general political atmosphere that has created the justification for personally attacking her. Much of that atmosphere has been whipped into a frenzy by this astroturf movement that was a Koch Brothers response to Obama’s popularity.

      I throw the term Teabaggers around because I genuinely dislike the political stances they have taken and the way their representatives have conducted themselves in office. I have no respect for those who endorse the extremism that the Teabaggers have ushered in and I make no pretense about it.

      Now, individual politics I’m perfectly willing to debate, but the minute a person identifies himself or herself as part of the Tea Party, I lose all interest in having a civil conversation. Sorry if that bothers you, but Teabaggers have soaked up the worst instincts of the Republican Party (like birtherism) and legitimized it. So, when I talk politics, this is how I talk. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.

      Peace,
      Shannon

    • Fab@54 permalink
      May 31, 2012 10:35 pm

      I don’t know about anyone else, but I reserve the term Teabaggers for a very specific group of conservative, right-wing extremists. I don’t call ALL republicans by that name.
      I realize within all the basic political philosophies (democratic, republican, independent, etc) there are subsets of people who lean more liberal or conservative on some issues than others.
      But teabaggers?
      They are a *very specific* group out on the fringes of our political spectrum.
      They proudly set themselves apart from all ranges of ‘normal’ — and honestly, that’s where they belong. I guess that’s why I don’t understand why anyone else, outside the Tea party, would find the term Teabagger offensive.

      • May 31, 2012 10:56 pm

        Exactly. This isn’t about specific political beliefs. It’s about a particular brand of conservatism that I personally find unsavory.

        Peace,
        Shannon

  4. MaryMc permalink
    May 31, 2012 2:22 pm

    So happy to find someone who shares my secret shame! I was raised by a pair of Yellow Dog Democrats, but in high school I got involved in the Model UN. It was 1975, the UN’s International Women’s Year, and our assigned country was a conservative, heavily-Catholic, machismo-dominated dictatorship. I was writing our human rights resolution. And I couldn’t think of anything else that this country would have to say about women’s rights, given their record, so I got the bright idea to write a resolution condemning abortion. I was just role-playing at first, but in the process of researching it…I brainwashed myself. I became an over-the-top pro-lifer. And as a result, I bet I voted for an even scarier candidate than you did: my first-ever vote, in the 1976 California primary, was for the Right-to-Life Party candidate, Ellen McCormack.

    I got over it in college. People who know me now as a flaming liberal would flat-out never believe the stuff I did (handing out gory anti-abortion flyers outside Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley during the Model UN conference…). But in the end, good sense and a basic belief in justice and personal freedom won out. Good to see I’m not the only one who made that particular journey!

    • May 31, 2012 3:47 pm

      Ya know, I just realized I never did say who I voted for in 2000, but I’m guessing you can figure it out. I voted for Bush in 2000 (more for the likeability than any particular issue), but still couldn’t bring myself to vote for Kerry in 2004. Instead, I voted for Nader. However, I like to justify it by saying that if Kerry had won in 2004, we wouldn’t have Barack Obama now. It’s a flimsy justification, but still…

      Yeah, I went to my share of abortion protests and always wanted to go to the big DC march (never made it). So, I understand the Pro-Life position pretty well, but I still think the solution is contraception and education, not making the entire country bend to my morals.

      I’m glad I took the path I did, though, because I think it gives me a better perspective from which to hear both sides. The problem is, the “other” side is now almost entirely about preserving the status quo on taxation and preventing any investment in our country. I have very little patience for that kind of intransigence.

      Welcome to Fierce Fatties MaryMc!

      Peace,
      Shannon

  5. lifeonfats permalink
    May 31, 2012 4:55 pm

    Fat shame and fat bullying is not a one-party thing as you’ve said Shannon. Go right ahead and disagree with the politics—Chris Christie is terrible, but his fat has nothing to do with his policies.

    I’m actually embarrassed for this country right now for the idiots and lunatics who are trying to turn back the clock to when nobody had any rights besides male landowners. It’s 2012, and I’m sorry, but it’s time to stop trying to create laws and lead America based on the Bible. Not everyone believes in God, and a lot who do believe in God don’t agree with this extreme racial religious mindset that is dead set on bringing the church into every single aspect of our lives. Not to mention the sudden attitude that public school teachers and government workers such as myself are evil and must be stopped, and women who *GASP* choose not to have children are the devil’s spawn. I hope that in November, sanity will prevail and most if not all of these GOP/Tea Party jackasses will be gone.

    • May 31, 2012 10:31 pm

      If Romney wins, then this country is doomed. Not because Romney would be president (although that would be pretty damned terrible), but more because it will prove that the American political system can be financially dominated. This post on the revelation of the Super PAC donors (on both sides) is astonishing in terms of how much money is being poured into this election (over $200,000 is estimated for the Koch Brothers alone). But you’ll notice in the article that the two Democratic donors quoted (including George Soros) is not one of “Hey you’re picking on me!” it’s “We don’t mind transparency.” It’s the Capitalists who scare the crap out of me because it seems like they’ve got five George Soroses for every one the Dems have. I don’t have a definitive list to compare from.

      Romney has to be one of the worst Presidential candidates. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around why anyone would want to vote for Bob Evil.

      Bob Evil

      Peace,
      Shannon

    • May 31, 2012 10:51 pm

      Oh, I found this!

      Bob Evil

      Peace,
      Shannon

    • Fab@54 permalink
      June 1, 2012 7:12 am

      As a NJ resident my whole life, I can’t tell you how much I absolutely despise Chris Christie.
      There just aren’t enough ‘bad’ words help purge my feelings about him.
      BUT… I will never resort to calling him “fat” or make any other disparaging remark about his body-appearance. I’ve even asked other people to “chill with the body shaming…” when they call him fat-related names around me. (Helloooo, I’m fat too, and I’m right here!)

      It’s Christie’s politics, his bullying personality, his ignorance about so many issues… in other words… WHO HE IS that I find repugnant, not his size.

  6. lifeonfats permalink
    May 31, 2012 4:55 pm

    Radical not racial! That’s when happens when you type on a laptop that’s actually on your lap.

  7. Fab@54 permalink
    May 31, 2012 10:07 pm

    OK, I’m taking a risk here, because I’m going to ask a really “dumb” question. But please know I’m asking in all sincerity:

    I’m pretty sure I know what “teabagging” is. Didn’t know at first, but a few people clued me in to it’s meaning as it was displayed on certain violent -But popular – video games….
    Like Shannon, I recall quite clearly that the Teaparty folks originally used that Teabagger term as their own label; until they discovered its video game meaning. So frankly, they started it with that term. Not our fault they were clueless about it.

    Anyway, here’s my question; Why is the term “offensive” to some people?

    Because it’s a physical act of a sexual nature? Because only ONE certain group – out of the many many various groups people in our society fall into — is envisioned or targeted when the term teabagger /teabagging is used? Is it only Tea Party people who are offended by that term?
    I really don’t get it. Honestly.

    To me the name Teabaggers is no more offensive than the terms “DemocRATS”, “LIEberals” or “Rethuglicans”. Or “Demoncrats”. And we know we all see those terms used everywhere as well. But are they really “personally” offensive?

    • vesta44 permalink
      May 31, 2012 10:20 pm

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think why so many people find “teabaggers/teabagging” offensive when referring to members of the Tea Party is simply because of the sexual connotation. But my take on that is that the Republicans started using the term as a derogatory statement aimed at the POTUS and the White House without checking to see what all the definitions of the terms were when they started the Tea Party movement. They thought they were being “cutting edge” and using a term from the Boston Tea Party and the founding of our nation without bothering to do all the research to see if the terms had been ‘borrowed’ by other demographics to have other meanings – something that really isn’t advisable if you don’t want that kind of thing to come back and bite you in the ass later on.

      • May 31, 2012 10:48 pm

        Yeah, it would be like if Romney wins and we started the Rusty Trombone Party. We’re responsible for not doing our research. Surely somebody could have been like, “Hey guys…”

        Peace,
        Shannon

        • Mulberry permalink
          June 1, 2012 2:07 am

          Teabagging… Rusty Trombone… Who said FFF isn’t educational?

    • May 31, 2012 10:47 pm

      I’m pretty sure that anyone who said “Let’s teabag the White House” is aware of its other meaning, which, for those unfamiliar with the term, it is the dunking of a man’s… um… teabags onto another person’s face or mouths (when I’ve heard dudebros talking about it, it was usually as a “prank” on their friend, not in a sexual manner).

      I make no bones about it, I don’t like the political leadership of the Teabaggers, and I think birtherism and Teabagging go together like water and… um… teabags. And setting aside the actual political opinions of those who identify as Teabaggers, I think what the movement was mostly about was the fact that the socialist Kenyan community organizer they hated won.

      Seriously, recall that when George W. Bush won in 2000, there were people who were bitter about it, but nobody took to the streets in protest over it. Even the second time he won, when people really didn’t like him, nobody organized the kind of campaign that the Teabaggers did. And the results of the 2010 election are the most obstructionist, immature dickweed Congressmen in the history of the United States, and I’m not going to apologize for feeling this way and having zero respect for the official Tea Party political party.

      I mean, I can recall back to the original George Bush v. Michael Dukakis. I was in fourth grade and I remember being pissed at Katie Stone because she liked Dukakis, who was clearly a horrible person because of his eyebrows (in my fourth grade logic). So, I can recall at least five election aftermaths prior to Barack Obama, and this is the only time that the country has responded to a presidential election in this manner.

      I feel terrible for all the moderate Republicans who are being driven out of the party, and perhaps this is the opportunity for the original Republicans to break off and form the Whigs party or something. Three parties, hey what a concept.

      Peace,
      Shannon

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