A look at outrage

Every now and again there are little dustups in political circles that are worth ignoring since the outrage is — at least to a certain degree — manufactured to fit the political gain that can be achieved.

Take, for example, a short article on John McCain’s dental work that appeared on the Minnesota Monitor Web site this week.

If bloggers are saying one thing about John McCain this week it’s that the 71-year-old has some serious grit. Of course, that grit comes in the form of McCain Mouth, a deformity that apparently causes teeth to look like a mess of yellowed and contorted Chiclets. Today, BuzzFeed.com has picked up on the mouth meme, turning McCain’s piano-key chompers into an official phenomenon.

Not exactly a penetrating look at an issue, to be sure. It’s best filed under “N” for “nonsense,” the kind of stuff that gives bloggers a not-quite-deserved reputation.

Then local Republican blogger Michael Brodkorb picked up on it.

This is a really disgusting attack on Senator McCain and Minnesota Monitor should be embarrassed. I left a comment on Minnesota Monitor asking if the author of this post, Molly Priesmeyer, was aware that McCain’s teeth were broken when he was a P.O.W.

Local blogger Charlie Quimby debates the extent to which McCain’s teeth were broken, but nevertheless reminded me of something I saw at the Republican National Convention in 2004.

Here’s a picture I took and a blurb I wrote while visiting with the Minnesota delegation :

Some guy from Virginia was handing out these Band Aids with a purple heart, an obvious attack on John Kerry’s medals in Vietnam. The GOP asked people to stop wearing them because they didn’t want to be questioning Kerry’s service in Vietnam. This woman isn’t listening to the party. A lot of delegates aren’t.

The Minnesota delegation — some delegates, anyway — were wearing the Band Aids. And mocking Kerry’s war injuries was de rigueur during the convention among Minnesota delegates, as indicated by another reference I made in a piece about Minnesota delegates helping out by repainting a neighborhood center.

By early in the afternoon, it seemed that the tendency to talk politics was in reverse proportion to the amount of time actually spent with the kids. Back at the day-care center, the walls in Brooklyn are pretty much the same as the ones in Minnesota. A delegate hurt his finger. “Is your finger OK?” one delegate asked. “Yeah, and I put in for a Purple Heart,” he replied.

Kerry’s suffering during the war was certainly nowhere near McCain’s, of course. But that’s not really the point. The point is that in politics, the outraged now are quite often the participants then.

  • Jonpaul

    I thought you were going to talk about how scripted political campaigns seem to be so that if a candidate or a campaign says that they are “outraged” it tends to be dismissed.

    Or I thought you were going to talk about how hard it is to stay outraged when there seems to be little you can do about it. For instance, when presented with stories about homeless abused kids, I am outraged but only for a little while. Same goes with the War in Iraq. I am outraged from time to time but I cannot maintain that outrage plus all the other things I can get outraged at and still be a functioning person. If there is an immediate way I can focus my outrage I might get something constructive accomplished with it but most often I get back to doing what ever I was doing before I was outraged.

    I really do not care much about some bloging on teeth and band-aids.

  • http://ww Charlie Quimby


    To be clear, for readers who don’t read my post, or fail to read it with the requisite irony, I’m not so much debating how much the teeth were broken. It’s bad either way. Rather, it’s about how outrage gets selectively manufactured… or not.