Is there anything Hillary Clinton doesn’t have?
Millions of dollars from speaking fees, a private email server, a beloved husband, undying respect from empty-headed women, and infinite political connections. Oh, and all that foreign money, of course.
For someone as popular and well-connected as Clinton, you’d think the only thing she’s missing is a diamond as big as the Ritz. But now, the former First Lady has been gifted with something new: her own Thought Police squadron. A group calling itself “HRC Super Volunteers” has pledged to uncover “coded sexism” as the 2016 race heats up. And here I thought that was Salon.com’s job.
The group is wasting being the Praetorian guard against misogyny. Here are the words, according to these high-strung ladies and beta men, that reveal inner sexism when used to describe Hillary: polarizing, calculating, disingenuous, insincere, ambitious, inevitable, entitled, overconfident, secretive, out of touch, will do anything to win, and represents the past.
How cute. HRC Super Volunteers think they’ll sway the debate in Hillary’s favor by harping about latent sexism. Good thing few people care about such nonsense. The only folks who will be persuaded are Hillary-loving progressives. Their minds won’t be changed, but their convictions will be further confirmed.
With that in mind, I have a plan of my own for 2016. Instead of causing a fuss over furtive sexism, I’ll take on a far more important topic. All the talking heads in DC say the next presidential election will be foreign policy-focused. Let’s take them at the word; after all, their lives revolve around the maddening political cycle.
Since 2016 is about policy beyond America’s shores, I’ll form my own language police group. We’ll call it “Noninterventionist Super Friends.” Our job will be to discover instances of unfair treatment of candidates who don’t toe the line on military adventurism. So basically, we’ll be tasked with defending Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, and ex-Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat. Both exhibit a disposition of restraint when it comes to foreign policy. This makes them a prime target for neoconservatives and aggressive liberals. To fight back, they’ll need defenders who aren’t afraid to call out the misuse of words.
Here’s my list of dog whistle words and phrases: isolationism, retreat from the world, American leadership, appeasement, existential threat, soft foreign policy, and weak on terrorism. These words, when used in the context of political debate, will be indicative of a “coded unfairness.” As activists, the Noninterventionist Super Friends will point out that they are cheap shots designed to skew debate, confuse observers, and paint a false picture on national security.
Lucky for us, there is an ample amount of distorted language to choose from. Especially within the GOP field, the term “isolationism” is thrown around as casually as “America is the greatest country in the history of ever.” Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Pete King, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie all use the term as an excuse for pumping up the defense department. Conservative press does the same, with virtually every writer from the Weekly Standard to the Wall Street Journal demanding that a “leader” with cojones to take up the mantle of the American Empire. Every other day, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin tears her hair out at the slight hint of isolationism. And don’t think Hillary, war agitator that she is, won’t demean her opponents by bringing up her aversion to leaving things alone.
So once we call out the warmonger for what it is, then what? The next logical step would be to point out that constant military intervention overseas leaves America less safe, and less defensible. Or we could bring up former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen’s admonition that the national debt is the greatest threat to national security. Or just maybe we can bring attention to the fact that the ill-conceived Iraq War paved the way for the Islamic State. And if we’re feeling really feisty, we can also say that military intervention has more to do with idealistic liberalism than genuine conservatism.
The smart thing to do would be to point out the vacuousness of phrases like “isolationism” and “retreat from the world.” Noninterventionists don’t opine for fortress America (though increasingly, that sounds like a good idea). They want a national defense that focuses on defending the homeland, not remaking the world to our image. If “strong leadership” means bullying the rest of the planet, then clearly the saber-rattlers in Washington never had to deal with schoolyard oafs as children. More likely, they were the reviled bully.
Admittedly, I harbor no optimistic views about my plan. The American electorate enjoys being scared into a tizzy over pronouncements of menacing terrorists. Talk of impending doom creates consensus. When voters are told their lives are in imminent danger, they hand over everything, liberties and property included, to hold off the threat. Politicians who stoke the fire of anxiety are only giving the electorate what they want: a national imperative. In 21st century America, that imperative is war, and to never stop making war. Without a common religion, language, or culture, there is little that binds the country together. Thus, we have a national duty to waste blood and treasure halfway across the globe.
So my idea of a “Noninterventionist Super Friends” group will have very little lift from the beginning. At best, it will be an opposition voice barely heard, and even less taken seriously. But hey, at least we’ll try! There is something romantic about typing away in the dark, trying to forestall the world from coming undone. It’s a thankless job and a thankless pleasure.
I mention all this because war is coming. Draft-dodger John Bolton doesn’t get a spot in the New York Times calling from the bombing of Iran if there is no national appetite for raining down destruction on a foreign land. If the liberal editors of the Grey Lady are OK with running a breathless tirade by a short-lived ambassador to the United Nations, then the country is in real trouble.
Hence, it’s important to have some kind of pushback against the blithe manner in which many political figures are calling for war against Iran, Russia, and other countries that don’t cower beneath Uncle Sam. Words matter. The correct usage of words matters. Unfortunately, the war on meaning waged by progressives and their ideological allies on the right has sapped our language of truth. Finding sexism in places it doesn’t exist is fair play. Hillary’s attack dogs will have free reign on that ground. But attempting to differentiate nonintervention with real isolationism is difficult. Voters aren’t ready to make the distinction. I guess the Super Friends will have their work cut out for them.