Thursday, May 28, 2009

Teabags vs. Douchebags

Why this may not be the second coming of the New Deal after all.
By David Sirota In These Times

With stagecraft defining so much of contemporary politics--and with such a powerful media machine behind the image of conservative teabaggery--the truth doesn’t really matter. When Time editors fused Barack Obama’s head on the famous parade photo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a November 2008 cover, comparisons between 1932 and the present day were already a shopworn cliche.

If you were a working journalist in Washington worth your weight in banality, you had made at least 10 giddy references to “nothing to fear but fear itself” and the prospects for a “new New Deal.”

The FDR-Obama comparisons seemed so appropriate—here was another Democrat elected during an economic emergency created by decades of conservative mismanagement. But to make such a direct comparison in 2008 meant you didn’t know your ass from your teabag, or, more precisely, the difference between a teabag and a douchebag, and how that difference explains why all the New Deal nostalgia may prove foolish.

Teabaggery takes its name from the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Mythologized high-school history texts tell us that colonists tossed British tea into Boston Harbor in America’s first populist revolt. Today, as evidenced by the April 15 protests, the original Boston Tea Party has become a transcendent icon of pugilistic radicalism—a symbol of patriotic resistance against unresponsive government and elite douchebags.

Which brings us to douchebaggery, defined by the Urban Dictionary as a philosophy “holding that no one other than [oneself] matters in the least bit, and thus that others can and should be treated like excrement for little or no reason.” In Washington, douchebaggery has become synonymous with milquetoast political platforms, soulless candidates and anti-populist Establishmentarian politics. To wit, Comedy Central’s South Park substituted an oversized douchebag (named “Giant Douche”) for John Kerry in an episode about the 2004 presidential campaign.


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