Skip to comments.In the Pigs and Lipstick Dept., Context Can Be All
Posted on 09/16/2008 5:05:14 AM PDT by Kaslin
The latest overblown irrelevance in a presidential campaign full of them was the oh-so-big flap over Barack Obama's not very original comment about pigs and lipstick. ("You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig.") The McCain-Palin campaign - or is it the Palin-McCain campaign by now? - immediately took vast umbrage at his remark, accusing Sen. Obama of, natch, sexism. Even if he was only taking a jab at the opposition's policies, not its vice-presidential candidate.
But forget context; this is a presidential campaign in literal-minded, post-literate, politics-all-the-time America. Every opening, however small or false, will be exploited. Look at what Barack Obama himself had done when his opponent spoke of being willing to station American troops indefinitely in a post-war Iraq to maintain the peace, just as GIs are still in Germany and on the Korean peninsula a half-century after a war. Sen. Obama claimed John McCain was advocating a hundred years' war. Call it politics, and obfuscation, as usual.
The first casualty of an American presidential campaign is context, and Barack Obama had delivered his platitude about lipstick on a pig, unfortunately for him, on the (high) heels of Governor Palin's witticism as she accepted her party's nomination: "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick."
A former broadcaster, like Ronald Reagan, the lady definitely knows how to deliver a line, as she's been demonstrating with some zest for the past few weeks, much to Republicans' delight and Democrats' chagrin. Given that context, a jaded cliche could be twisted to look like an ungentlemanly attack on a lady who's become an idol of the crowds. ("SA-RAH! SA-RAH!")
Context can be all in these matters. As Republican operatives well understood. So they took, or at least pretended to take, Sen. Obama's applause line as some kind of male-chauvinist affront. Never mind that Barack Obama, that model of political correctness, not to mention political savvy, wasn't attacking Sarah Palin's womanhood. Certainly not intentionally. Never mind the raucous cheers and applause at his campaign rally when he trotted out this old line. A candidate can scarcely be held responsible for the tastelessness of his supporters.
The worst that can be said of Sen. Obama is that he didn't realize how his old saying might be interpreted in the midst of this new Palin-dominated campaign. A figure of speech that was perfectly acceptable a couple of weeks ago, indeed hackneyed, had suddenly become a political boomerang.
At worst, Barack Obama could be judged insensitive to linguistic nuance, that is, he's guilty of being a typical American male. Welcome to a very large club, senator. It's called the Association of American Men Who Offend but Haven't the Foggiest Idea Why.
Membership is just about universal among the male population.
The only part of this tempest in a news cycle that may be worth noting now was Sen. Obama's outraged reaction to the Republicans' outraged reaction to his pig-and-lipstick comment. The old Barack Obama, the one who always rose above petty provocations, came out swinging wildly this time.
He sounded angry, or, to be more precise, like a man who was trying to sound angry. As if he'd been told that self-righteousness would play well at this stage of the campaign.
Republicans, he told a campaign rally in Norfolk, were indulging in "the same game that has made people sick and tired of politics in this country. They seize on an innocent remark, try to take it out of context, throw out an outrageous ad because they know it's catnip for the media."
Ah, yes, the awful media. If there's anything both presidential campaigns can agree on, it's the utter depravity of the media. They may have a point, but it's scarcely a subtle one.
Listening to Mr. Cool blow his cool, it was hard not to wonder what ever happened to the old, self-possessed Barack Obama, the one who had captured the country's imagination for a brief, sunlit time. What had changed? Had he decided that what he was doing wasn't working any more? Or was he just listening to his rattled handlers, who've been telling him to get out there and throw some punches?
For whatever reason, here was the once dignified young Hope of the Nation huffing and puffing like the run-of-the-mill candidates he'd defeated for his party's nomination. He was sounding like Joe Biden. It was hard to resist the conclusion that the latest fickle poll results, or maybe the whole Palin Phenomenon in general, had got to him. And he's not even down in the generality of polls, not really. They still show the race even, if his lead has vanished. But panic begins to set in - for no good reason.
Often enough the test of a presidential candidate - and of a president - is not how he responds to the great issues or reacts to the great crises, but whether he will yield to the petty irritations of politics. Does he lift the level of public discourse, or does he join in demeaning it? Does he show vision, or is he just another scrapper out of his league?
Great candidates, like great athletes, rise above the ordinary. They stick to their game plan despite seeming setbacks. They come through in the clutch. They show vision, not irritation. They keep their sense of humor, and balance. They maintain their pace; they aren't thrown off stride by little things. Candidates with style will rise above the petty, and keep their eye on the mark, looking neither to the right nor left, but press ahead. They are not diverted. Listening to Barack Obama swerve off into anger or at least a facsimile thereof, it was hard not to suspect that he's losing it.
No, that's the best that could be said. Where do these writers come from, and why are they all so mincy about Osama?
“that model of political correctness, not to mention political savvy,”
Nothing to see here, move along please.
The author should understand the context of the remarks and what followed. There is no doubt in my mind that the lipstick remark was aimed at Palin, particularly re her home run acceptance speech where she put the word lipstick into the national race. Obama was using his lipstick on a pig remark to disparage Palin [who had achieved rock star status at this point] and his audience knew it.
As soon as the crowd started to laugh, Obama knew exactly how it was being interpreted.
They love Obama so much that they can read his mind and know exactly what he intended to say at all times. Isn’t that sweet.
Greenberg is full of it. I saw the clip and there was a definite pause, as in wink-wink-nudge-nudge. Not only that, there were boos from a few in the crowd and Obama said, "That's all right, that's all right" as if to say dissent is OK. If he was as smart as Greenberg implies, Obama would have caught himself and say something along the line of "Hey, don't get upset, I didn't mean it that way."
As with the hand-to-cheek aka "the finger" to Hillary, he knew EXACTLY what he was doing.
Well, just keep in mind...you can put a monkey in a suit but it is still a monkey!
The last paragraph says it all imho
It was the DELIVERY that gave him away...that pause...that smirk...
Don't kid yourself...they knew exactly what they were doing...and I bet he practiced that line...over and over...until he got rid of the BIG smirk on his face.
Kinda like putting a snake in Palin's lunch box and going "Who me??"
It takes very little intelligence to make the connection when Barry says "Pig + Lipstick." Obama's Sesame Street trained crowd got it. They knew who he was talking about.
Total BS! There were memos from the DNC to pull this off a week prior to him saying it and he repeated it twice at two different stops! Why in the h@ll are people ignoring this? And ignoring the stinky fish (Barracuda) comment? Because they don't want to look stupid for not catching it. Now Obama is ramming it down McCain's throat.. thanks a h@ll of a lot dummies.
The plan was to take away from Sarah's thunder...people will be more afraid to use the pit-bull with lipstick mantra for fear of being labeled a pig. Everyone wanted to be a pit bull with lipstick and a barracuda before they pulled this. Freaking BS trying to call any woman who backs Palin a pig or a stinky fish. Yea..I take it personally and I'm really pissed that my fellow pubs are letting them get away with this.
obama knew exactly what he was doing with that lipstick comment. He let loose both barrels at Gov Sarah Palin. One blast was his lipstick comment and the second blast that followed in the next line or two was his comment about wrapping a stinking fish and it still stinking.
Gov Sarah Palin’s nick name is Barracuda!
That low life zerobama then acted all self-righteousness like someone caught up in a lie. When caught, act angry, go on the attack. Sick loser low life.
It’s funny, in a beat-your-head-against-the-wall way, that Obama’s supporters are simultaneously claiming that he’s the smartest candidate in history *and* that he’s too clutzy to recognize an inappropriate phrase before he uses it.
I just tried to get the article from the sites link and it said: “The page you requested cannot be found.
Can anyone else get it?
Make that two inappropriate phrases...one home grown and the other straight off the streets of Indonesia.
“As with the hand-to-cheek aka “the finger” to Hillary, he knew EXACTLY what he was doing.”
That’s my reading also. And let’s not forget the “3 AM” e-mail saying Biden was his choice. This behavior is petty by any standard, and very petty in someone who would be President.
Greenberg missed the boat on this one.
Good point. Are they wrapping fish in newspaper for years to make that pickled fish sauce that I’m allergic to? It’s nuoc maum in Vietnamese, but I assume Indonesia has a version.
Wonder if he realizes he just described George W. Bush to a tee.
Giving Obama the benefit of the doubt (not meaning to insult Palin), then you can only conclude that he’s politically tone deaf and/or stupid.
I tried a few articles at Townhall.com and had the same response.
The real problem with trying to gin up phony outrage over this expression is that it reminds every guy of every occasion when he got in trouble for making a perfectly normal statement that set a woman off for some weird reason. The effect is to make the guys feel persecuted by irrational harridans, and the aura of harridannery gets subconsciously attached to the campaign.
In the same manner, Obama at a rally against Hillary and in reference to her, so gently scratched - in Chicago street/rap fashion - his exalted cheek with his exalted and extended middle finger.
America will become Chicago if Obama and his multitude of radical minions prevail.
Oh c’mon. He was just monkeying around.
I can only imagine what the outrage would be if the McCain camp used the word 'monkey' in describing Obama.
Obviously mine was not an original insight.
"Hi there, Democrats."
"Not to worry."
" For the debates, I've decided on Revlon Tangerine Kiss
Glace outlined with L'Oreal Pretty-in-Pink lip pencil."
Townhall links are now working for me.
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