Tag Archives: conservative framing

Weak and Wimpy Candidates

Wow! What fireworks! The gloves are off, fists are flying, the big guns have appeared: the wimpy words.

The world may be focused on London and I suppose gaffes that recall the prime minister’s backside are super offensive to some (for the rest of the world it sort of proves the stodgy stereotype of the English), but the overseas gaffes are nothing compared to what is now going on.

There is a storyline building about Mitt Romney that is fatal to any Republican (and probably any other) candidate, and unless he does some fancy posturing, it is threatening to stick. Romney is being painted as a wimp.

Anyone recall another “wimp” president? It could be argued that the moniker of “wimp”, was the impetus of George W. Bush‘s presidency – to return honor to the family after his dad was labeled with the charge.

The word “wimp” or “weak” is the harshest disparaging remark one could make about a conservative and the charge has now been leveled at Romney by Newsweek – the same publication that put the nail in the coffin of George H. W. Bush‘s presidency. The idea has online news sources chattering as well, like in this article Mitt Romney’s Wimp Factor. The article points out how Romney seems afraid and running every time he’s pressed on an issue. Perhaps this kind of talk is what has him posturing as Commander in Chief this week while he snuggles up to Israel and sabre rattles in Iran’s direction.

We already know how sabre rattling turns out when it is nothing but cover for a non-existent domestic agenda and insecure self image. It’s not good. A war with Iran would surely be the beginning of an entirely new era – one that could make our current economic, environmental and political situation look like a Sunday School picnic.

Testosterone and attempts to prove manliness in the face of scrutiny or ridicule have acted as a genocidal force on our planet. Letting “the wimp factor” factor into military decisions takes away the trust that the People – Americans in this case – have in the Commander in Chief and the mission. We’ve stopped doing military in defense; we are now seen as the world aggressor.

Dick Cheney fully remembers what happened to George Bush Sr., he was Secretary of Defense. He also is fond of profiting from war as he did with Haliburton/KBR (and perhaps still does) he also is a big fan of fracking, helping to create the loophole that exempted fracking from the Safe Water Act in 2005 (article here) – which he also did to stuff the pockets of Haliburton.

Perhaps that’s why a day or two after “the wimp factor” story came out about the new Newsweek cover, Cheney decided to start getting loud about how he thinks Obama is one of the weakest presidents ever. He’s worried. You don’t really hear a lot our of Cheney these days – he lays low, doing his profiteering thing until a campaign needs someone to stir up the hawks, then he steps out to remind us that we do need a “strict father” that is focused on making money and kicking some butt.

Why are the words “weak” and “wimp” so significant? For conservatives, they are the reddest of flags that let them know that they don’t like a person. “Weak” and “wimp” say that the subject is not strong, is not decisive, and cannot be relied upon. They are not manly, have no nerve, and “chicken out” of fighting. Instead of seeing diplomatic measures as being a pragmatic way to save lives, money, the environment and energy, is seen as nuanced weakness. Conservatives operate on more of a black and white decision making system, if you’re not into “fight”, you must be into “flight”.  Progressives understand that every circumstance has multiple issues and causes at hand, learning about the situation and making deliberations are likely in order when deciding something as destructive as war.

Note the wimpy words, they are a little different than typical political mud slinging. Candidates can be called dumb, arrogant, selfish, evil, dishonest, manipulative, womanizing, ugly, disconnected…there are lots of descriptors flying around but the wimpy words are harder to shake – American’s don’t want a weak president.

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Moral Order Frames (or How Conservatives Think)

We may identify with conservatives or liberals due to our identities – sometimes being labeled one or the other is more popular or convenient at any given moment – but we are not always aware of how we process information. Any self identified liberal (or conservative) might use a cognitive process that uses the conservative hierarchy or liberal principles of equal opportunity at any time – we all can be prompted to understand the other moral order, there is a logic to both ways. No self identified progressive or liberal uses the “liberal” moral order 100%. As mentioned yesterday, even Ayn Rand, a demi-god in the conservative movement, was an immigrant (some say illegal) that ended up using our  Medicare and Social Security that she so hated. Go figure.

Just because we hold an ideology in high regard does not mean our brains actually use that ideology to process information.

Adam Strange down at The Young Turks has created a video that illustrates the moral order cognitive processes of the two – very different – ideologies. The video promotes The Young Turks in a funny/sensational way toward the end, but most of it does try to explain the difference.  I understand that this video is made from the progressive/liberal perspective and so expect that those that identify as conservative might not be big fans. I want to know why though? What part of the moral order is incorrect because the news is the record of history and I see the moral orders lining up as is illustrated in the picture above.

With top down moral order, any corruption at a level above you and your order falls apart and likely turns into dysfunction and abuse. With an equality of opportunity model, more folks are empowered to be productive and support other folks in their tough times. Take a look (warning: a couple of mild curse words are used – but not directed at individuals, they are more describing actions).

How Conservatives Think by Adam Strange

Also, it has been asked in comments, “Why emphasize the two sides? Why not just stick to the issues?” I wish our American culture and media model did encourage independent thinking but it does not. Because it does not, we need to be prepared for the messages – overt and covert – that are sent to us thousands of times a day.

Would love to hear comments. Values are always the most important part of any argument. Do you agree with the way the moral orders are explained? Does this moral order make sense? Does this offend? If so, why?

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