How do you know when a Dittohead is using a talking point on you?

26 Dec 2007 08:12 pm
Posted by: Donna

Answer:  His lips are moving. 

So the other day I’m in a training session at work.  The sales manager who was giving the training has a habit of prefacing his political opinions by saying “I don’t want to make this a political thing but…”  This would be annoying on its own, but it’s even worse because he is a supply side true believer.   He’s either being deliberately disingenuous, or he truly believes that what he’s spouting is not a political opinion but commonly accepted wisdom.  He was talking about how unfair repealing Bush’s tax cuts and reinstating the estate tax would be to the wealthy.  Because people shouldn’t be punished for being successful.   Of course I couldn’t keep my mouth shut so I pointed out that most wealthy people didn’t acquire their lucre through entrepreneurship and sweat of their brows, they got it through inheritence or passive investments.  Furthermore, I didn’t care to live in a country with a small elite class and the rest of us eating dirt.  It was pointless.  I could see my populist arguments were going over like a turd in a punchbowl so I decided to shut up.  Besides, at least no one said anything about welfare so I figured I might as well quit while my brain was un-exploded. 

Plutocracy Worshipping Sales Manager Dude wasn’t quite finished, however.  He brought up Warren Buffet, who recently opined that wealthy people like him should pay more taxes. Buffett claims that he doesn’t use any tax planning or shelters, just pays what the IRS says he should, and it’s still less than the percentage his receptionist pays. His point is that it doesn’t help the economy to give huge breaks to rich people like him at the expense of the working class. Buffett also plans to bequeathe most of his estate to charity, leaving a small amount to his children. PWSMD is either blithely unaware of this or doesn’t believe it. With a self-satified smirk, he proclaimed that Warren Buffett should just write a check for several million dollars to the IRS if he felt so bad.

See, I know that smirk. That, my friends, is the Dittohead Smirk. The smirk of someone who will never suffer from nuance and uncertainty.  Because Rush and his counterparts give them simple answers to everything. It was PWSMD’s smirk that led me to google his statement and sure enough, there they were. Literally hundreds of nearly identical entries on ubiquitous wingnut blogs. “Why doesn’t Warren Buffett send a check for several million to the IRS if he feels so bad?”  

I knew it!    It’s the Official Warren Buffett Right Wing Talking Point!   Wow, he must have hit a nerve in Plutocrat World.

I guess the idea is that Buffett is a hypocrite and you’re supposed to focus on that and not on his argument that the wealthy should pay at least the same percentage in taxes as working people.   The problem is that Buffett isn’t really being hypocritical; it’s not like he’s saying every rich person but him should pay more.  That would be hypocritical.   (Republican-hypocritical would be him demanding high taxes for everyone as a moral issue while getting secret tax cuts in airport mens room stalls.)  It’s not exposing hypocrisy; it’s an ad hominem and a red herring.  It’s a common tactic they use, and as effective as it is annoying.  Rather than debating the merits of Al Gore’s or John Edwards’ or Buffett’s positions, you find yourself defending their big houses, haircuts, and tax payments. 

Gah!  It’s not just a lack of originality that gets me, it’s the willingness to sacrifice everyone, including themselves, to salvage the credibility of a dumb little worldview.   The only way to combat it is to Google them relentlessly and call them out for using prefab’d talking points every time they do it.  Undergrads would flunk for such sloppy argumentation and unattributed quotes, so why should middle aged sales managers get a pass? 

I’ve noticed several talking points emerging over the past several weeks that I predict will be recurring themes in the upcoming year.  I’ll be blogging about them as they come up. 

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