When the Crazies Make You Look Gutless

On that latest bit of ugliness to rear its head at a Republican Presidential candidate debate, a James Fallows reader writes:

 I think the booing encapsulates what the Republican party we could once vote for now represents to moderate independents like myself:
– A few people loudly proclaim repugnant (or in other cases nonsensical) things.
– Everyone around them lets it stand rather than challenge them.
– Nine candidates on stage, with microphones, all stand silent while a soldier serving in Iraq is booed.

Ah, but he was a gay soldier. That makes all the difference if you’re a Republican Presidential candidate with a base like this to appease.

26 Responses to “When the Crazies Make You Look Gutless”

  1. Bob Koss says:

    Why assume the soldier himself was being personally booed? Couldn’t that handful of boos have been by people that simply considered his question to be a time consuming distraction from discussing subjects of more immediate interest to the public? Could they have been just voicing their general opinion of the now repealed DADT policy? Should the debate have been allowed to be pulled off track in order to respond to nebulous content free vocalizations from a handful of anonymous people in the audience?

    There is also the possibility of those people being Obama acolytes just trying to disrupt the debate. No mention is made of anyone having interviewed any of the vocalists. No names are given, no party affiliation mentioned.

    Why would anyone other than a dyed in the wool lefty think this incident is even worthy of mention?

  2. Bob Koss says:

    Here is a Politico news story that people might like to comment on.
    You might title it “Why is Politico ignoring Herman Cain? 

  3. Keith Kloor says:

    Bob (1)


  4. Tom Fuller says:

    #3 commenting on #1, No. It is not fascinating. It is repelling.

  5. Keith Kloor says:

    I was deliberately understating. I mean fascinating in a clinical sense.

  6. kdk33 says:

    I think the booing encapsulates what the Republican party we could once vote for now represents to moderate independents like myself:

    As evidenced by recent election returns, no doubt.

    Perhaps you are more unique than you know.

  7. Keith Kloor says:

    kdk33, you and Bob can rationalize this behavior all you want. I’m sure 25-30 percent of the electorate that is made up of loyal Republicans will do the same.

    But to those not so beholden to party–the Independents–all this stuff adds up to a cumulative picture. And it’s looking ugly, whether you will admit or not.

  8. Tom C says:

    OK Mr. Kloor – it was ugly.  How about the recent “biography” of Sarah Palin by a member of your profession.  Ugly?  I’m waiting for you to denounce it.

  9. kdk33 says:


    You can rationalize election results since 2010 all you want (a couple-a really recent ones, even).  I’m sure 25-30 percent of loyal democrats do the same.

    But, according to those not beholden to the party – the independants that swing elections – the numbers add up to a cumulative picture that is not pretty for the democratic party.  whether you will admit it or not.  Perhpas you are in denial.

    Just sayin’


  10. kdk33 says:

    I didn’t see the incident, but it sounds like there were some rude people in the audience – at a political debate, imagine that.
    Otherwise, is it a surprise to learn that significant numbers of republicans oppose gays serving openly in the military?  I didn’t realize that was a secret.

  11. Keith Kloor says:

    Tom C (8)

    First of all, there is no equivalence between the two. Secondly, I don’t get the, “yeah, but…” argument.

    Is that what any one of the Republican candidates who stayed silent should have said: Hey, that’s not nice, you guys, but let’s remember our opponents are guilty of the same behavior…”

    If it’s cowardly to stay silent, it’s also repugnant to try and distract away from it with such arguments.

    kdk33 (9)
    I see you put a lot of stock in those mid-term elections. You ignore the cyclical nature of such things. At one time, Karl Rove thought he had the Republican party on the verge of generational dominance. Oops.

    The Democrats were similarly drunk on their own superiority in the mid/late 2000s.


    Partisans tend to read too much into the results that favor them at any given moment.

    This is a snapshot in time.

    My guess is that Democrats will lose the Senate next Nov (because of the amount of seats they have to defend, compared to Repubs) but retain the Presidency, in part because Independents will be revolted by the Tea Party by then. 

  12. Tom C says:

    Mr. Kloor –

    Since you “don’t get” the argument let me explain it to you.  You think it was cowardly for the candidates to stay silent.  I think it is cowardly for you (as a journalist, not qua you) to stay silent when members of your profession behave badly.  Speaking of which, you had a great opportunity to go on the record re Plain but chose to remain silent. 

    By the way, I didn’t try to distract away – my first comment was that it was ugly.  

    And you are right, there is really not an equivalence.  On the one hand you have an incident driven by one or two people that gets magnified out of proportion. On the other hand, you have the culmination of a 4 year program of harrassment that comes to its logical conclusion, aided by silence of the Keith Kloors of the world.

  13. Bob Koss says:

    Tom Fuller, #3

    You assert my comment #1 was repelling. Just what was repelling? You didn’t even engage on the substance of my comment. No cookies for you Tom. How about addressing my remarks? How am I going to re-educate myself if you don’t point out the error of my ways?

    The Hill reported “a handful”(5) of people booed out of a crowd of what I have found out to be an audience of 5000+. No coherent sentences from the audience were reported.

    Did the booing start before or after the soldier asked his question? That seems pertinent as to whether it was him or the question being booed. No one Keith linked has said. With no mention of the timing, I am left thinking it wasn’t favorable to the story line being created.

    Since DADT has been repealed, why wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect a few people out of 5000 to voice their displeasure at having their time frittered away discussing an already settled policy? Especially when the current problems are so large.

    Even if the booing came from people who are actually bigoted, how do you know they weren’t Obama acolytes trying to be disruptive?

    If 5/5000 of a group of people say something you consider repellent, should the group as a whole be considered tainted?

    When no coherent remarks can be divined, should debaters be obligated to query that 5/5000 of the audience as to what they are trying to say?

    Do you think I am a bigot?

    The way I see it now the press was trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, and all they did was make themselves look both petty and desperate.

    I await your guidance Tom.

    Unsurprisingly Keith made his comment #2 ambiguous as to his actual thoughts on my comment. Ever the sly fox, this allowed him to jump to either side of the issue after getting further input from others. When Tom helpfully chimed in on the side Keith actually favored, Keith boldly morphed his comment #2 into a snarky one at #4. I suspect he thinks people don’t notice such shenanigans.

  14. Bob Koss says:

    oops. That should be Tom Fuller #4

  15. Bob Koss says:

    Oops again increment each of Keith’s comments by one. I can’t count today.

  16. Keith Kloor says:

    Yeah, Bob, as if it’s not clear from the post what I think about this issue.

    BTW, I hear those were Republican saboteurs getting pepper sprayed on Wall Street the other day. 🙂

    No way to know, of course. Right? 

  17. Bob (13)

  18. Tom Fuller says:

    Bob Koss,

    I find several aspects of your first post repellant (not referring to you personally, btw):

    First, you attempt to ascribe different motives for what is clearly a shameful act. Obama acolytes? C’mon. You should have accepted the 99% probability that there are some Republicans booed a serving member of the Armed Forces because of his sexual orientation. 

    I find their booing repellent.
    I find your defense repellent.
    I find the cowardice of the candidates unwilling to stand up for the men and women who are standing up for them repellent.

    I served with gays in the military. I am happy to report that despite their gaydomness, they were just as good, bad and human as the rest of us. (Except for the gay climate deniers. They wuz da horrible.)

    One of the reasons I am really proud to be a lefto pinko commo bozo is that I don’t have to hold my nose and pretend to like cardboard suits that claim they want to do good for me and my country but don’t have the moral clarity or courage to call the audience out for crap like that.

    Rethink your position Mr. Koss. Please. 

  19. kdk33 says:

    Of course, Tom, you committ the same error.  It seems more likely that the “booers” (5 was it) were expressing their opposition to policy allowing gays to serve openly in the military and not booing an individual.  You prefer “booing a soldier because of his/her sexual orientation” because it suits you’re narrative better. 

    There is a difference.

  20. Nullius in Verba says:

    Is it the fact that he was a serving member of the armed services, or the fact that he was gay that causes this repulsion?
    I’m curious, because I remember seeing a few years ago lots of coverage of the antics of the anti-war protesters, and what they did at army recruiting centres, veteran hospitals and funerals, and political gatherings of various sorts, and my recollection was that a lot of people on the left were not particularly forward in calling them out.
    If it’s about the fact that he’s a soldier, then well done. I’m glad to see things have improved so much. If it’s only because he’s gay, it’s not so impressive.
    Without in any way saying it was a good thing to do – I’d note that audiences at political gatherings sometimes boo people, and gay people have an equal right to be booed as straight ones do. Offering them special protection against hurt feelings not available to everybody else is patronising and discriminatory. Gays are just as capable of standing up for themselves as everyone else, and I’m sure are not going to be fazed by one idiot making a noise. No defence is necessary. That is was wrong and stupid goes without saying.
    Speaking as someone whose views have ocasionally been booed (by more than a handful, and with no defences offered), I’d still prefer it to a world where it’s not allowed.

  21. Keith Kloor says:

    I’m curious, because I remember seeing a few years ago lots of coverage of the antics of the anti-war protesters, and what they did at army recruiting centres, veteran hospitals and funerals…”

    Whoa, have you some catching up to do. Go ahead and search all you want for protesters and funerals of American soldiers and see what you come up with. Here, let me help you with your google search.

    Of course, not only are you dead wrong in the assumptions of your automatic reflex (hey, I remember when there was all that business at those funerals…), but it’s telling that this is what you choose to discuss right at the start of your comment, rather than the issue at hand.

    Typically disingenuous. 

  22. harrywr2 says:

    Keith Kloor Says:
    September 27th, 2011 at 8:23 pm
    <i>Go ahead and search all you want for protesters and funerals of American soldiers</i>
    Actualy a very specific group of protesters of unknown political affilitiation claiming to be members of a religious groups regularly protested at US Soldiers funerals and the case against them went to the US Supreme Court. The court ruled in the protesters favor.
    I seem to remember some of the signage was seemed to be deliberately inflammatory.
    Here they are – http://www.godhatesfags.com/
    Most of the time the local fire department and Law Enforcement could manage to park vehicles in such a manner as to block the view of the protestors from the funeral party. Not always.
    As far as I could tell the whole thing was nothing more then a scam to attempt to ‘incite’ someone to take a swing at them and then threaten a lawsuit. True scum of the earth.

  23. Nullius in Verba says:

    Thank you, yes. Fred Phelps ran for governor of Kansas five times as the Democratic candidate. Yes, I’ll admit to having inaccurately summarised the whole bunch under one label.
    It’s an excellent example, because they went to court, and established that it’s free speech and you can’t do anything about it.
    This *is* the issue at hand. Is it about the fact that he’s a soldier, or is it about the fact that he’s gay and respect for soldiers is just a convenient stick to beat people with? People have said and done far worse about soldiers previously without us seeing this reaction, so is this a dramatic change of heart, or simply the usual left’s gay politics wrapped up in an American flag?

  24. Bob Koss says:

    Tom Fuller,
    You seems to have a myopic view that allows no room for anything but bigotry as a reason to boo a gay person. Perhaps it simplifies your life not having to consider other possibilities. I suggested a couple legitimate reasons it might not be bigotry in my prior  comments yet you dismiss them out of hand with a claim of 99% probability of Republican bigotry.
    Do you know this was an exclusive Republican audience? I would suggest you are ignoring a substantial media and press contingent along with others that may have come with them. How about  unaffiliated voters like me? How about just plain curious democrats?  If any of those groups or subset of those groups were allowed in your 99% probability gets trashed.
    You must certainly be aware both parties are capable of playing dirty tricks any time any place to generate negative coverage for the opposing party. Do you really think the democratic party isn’t capable of stooping low enough to implementing a false flag operation when an opportunity presents itself?
    Don’t you find it odd that no names of the perps or interviews with any of them can be found in the reporting? Do you really think the press and media are so incompetent they failed to gather a single tasty tidbit of information on any of the perps that would identify them as bigoted Republicans? The press lives for that stuff and you would have a hard time making a case they were understaffed at the event.
    5/5000 got out of line and the debaters are repellent cowards to you because they failed to pause the debate to wax eloquent about how these perps were being naughty about something they never defined, but you are sure it is bigotry? Come on. Get real. Sounds to me like a well behaved audience. 
    Perhaps your hypersensitivity about the subject makes you think all similar situations are identical situations. I try not to make such assumptions. Too often they are wrong. How about expanding your view to leave room for other perspectives. Not everyone views things through your lens. Others are capable of considering a panorama of views. Why is your view the only correct one? I see no reason to consider any view as holding  a privileged place in society.
    You find it repellent I would even consider defending the obvious bigotry you see. Well, I see it as unproven. A paucity of facts combined with conjecture and innuendo just doesn’t cut it with me.
    Frankly, I wasn’t really offended by your curtly dismissive remark in comment #4. I was puzzled by it. I suggest you try rethinking your one size fits all perspective. Not every derogatory remark towards a member of a minority group is based on bigotry.
    I previously asked you if 5/5000 of a group of people say something you consider repellent, should the group as a whole be considered tainted? An answer would be appreciated.
    My first post was based on the idea the whole incident amounted to the press attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill and I have yet to be presented with sufficient facts to changed my mind.
    Attempting to hype some non-story about purported bigotry rather than ways to prevent further increases in our enormous debt is simply taking the public eye off what should be the goal.
    Frankly, I say a pox on both parties. The issue advocacy may differ between the parties, but the depth of corruption and dearth of concern for proper handling of the public purse is extensive on both  sides. There are simply too many people on both sides that have been there so long they no longer have any idea what it is like to live under the rules they set. I’m hoping many of the lifetime pols on both sides get turned out in the next election. Although, due to gerrymandering of districts that hope is faint.
    I’d like to see term limits of maybe 10-12 years set so these people have to live most of their life under the same rules they set for the public. That is another faint hope unlikely to happen during the rest of my lifetime. Glenn Reynolds has another idea I think has merit. http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/118348/
    If you like the status quo, just pull that party lever. If you want any hope in hell of getting out of this fiscal mess, I suggest voting  mostly anti-incumbent if someone has been in the same office for a long time. I’ve been doing that all my life. Power can be an insidious and corrupting influence on even the most well-meaning who stay in the same office for an extended period. They have learned most of the ins and outs of the position, milk it to their personal advantage, and become complacent toward their constituency.

  25. Keith Kloor says:

    @23 “Thank you, yes. Fred Phelps ran for governor of Kansas five times as the Democratic candidate.”

    You continue to demonstrate why you’re not interested in engaging in good faith. (Incidentally, that is also not accurately phrased: he was not the Democratic candidate in the general election. He ran in the Democratic primary for governor.)

    In your previous comment, you falsely implied that it was anti-war protesters causing all the ruckus at soldier funerals.

    After I point out you were wrong, the first sentence in your response is that the leader of the whacky church is a Democrat. Do you know why that too is disingenuous?

    Phelps remained prominent in state and local politics, working for years as a major organizer for the state’s Democratic Party. (He still calls himself a Democrat, refusing to change just because his party has.)” 

  26. Nullius in Verba says:

    I am engaging in good faith. I think your disagreement with what I say is leading you to assume motives without evidence. In the same spirit, I might suspect that you are seizing on minor and irrelevant nitpicks in order to avoid answering the difficult questions or addressing the issues.
    My original point was that respect for the military was not a prominent feature of left-wing discourse a few years ago, when certain groups favoured by the left were highly disrespectful of the services. The relevant point here is supported by the left, not anything else. Yes, I used the label “anti-war” to describe them, when it properly covers only three out of four of the categories. It wasn’t deliberate. And in the second sentence of my reply I said that it was an inaccurate summary.
    I wasn’t aware that there was any rule requiring such an admission to be in the first rather than the second sentence of any reply, and I think that to carefully ignore my second sentence while apparently criticising the first for not saying what the second did is as disingenuous as you seem to think I was being.
    The distinction is not relevant to the point, but if you prefer, you can drop that case, which still leaves us with the other three.
    This was not meant to start such a heated argument. My expectation was that somebody would simply confirm that it was the fact that he was a soldier that mattered, that you didn’t stand by those others on the left who disrespected the military in the past, and by doing so you would demonstrate precisely the principled behaviour that you were expecting of the Republican candidates: speaking up for the soldiers even when it was politically “inconvenient”.
    It was a softball question that would start by putting us all on the same side, we could avoid the quagmire of partisan sniping that appeared to be starting up, and perhaps discuss something sensible like the appropriate and dignified response to those who use their right to free speech to offend – when to ignore it, when to respond, how to educate people in more effective communication.
    I don’t for a moment believe you support Phelps or CodePink or any of that mob, so I’m a bit taken aback that it seems to have struck such a nerve. You seem to have taken my raising the anti-military, pro-gay political history of the left as more than just the “you can see why people would think it” hypothetical I intended, and as an accusation. I apologise for that – although in my defence, I would point out that your assuming that Republican candidates kept silent because of the anti-gay political history on the right set the terms of this debate.
    If you’re going to accuse political opponents of acting out of such motives, surely you would allow that other people should be able to play by the same rules? Had I intended it that way, would it not have been playing the same game, anyway?
    Enough. I can see you’re not going to answer the question, and given the reaction I’ll have to assume it’s because it wasn’t the fact that he was a soldier that got you upset. A shame.

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