Anger, and its Discontents

I suppose it was inevitable that Romney would start calling President Obama “angry,” simply because it sounds so nice with “….black man” to the Archie Bunker base, but the term is accidentally more deeply revealing than that.

I have repeatedly seen the use of this clever dodge; in my experience, it reflects the often mistaken pride that abusers have vis-a-vis their victims; they loudly dismiss every incident of legitimate objection to their sociopathic behavior as yet another eruption of silly, irrational anger.  Neither of the participants expect the other to be convinced; the whole spectacle is performed to fool others.  It’s always the abusive spouse, co-worker, or “friend” going on and on to everyone who will listen about how treacherous, sinful, and angry their target du jour is, never vice versa.

Then, they dedicate their lives to making to make the person display that anger in a way that might turn others against them, always leaving as few fingerprints as possible.  It isn’t exactly an accident that the “angry black men” of the conservative imagination had plenty to be angry about; niggling minutia like being disenfranchised, beaten, and lynched at will by their white overlords.  The message is always the same:  shut up and know your place, or you’ll be sorry.

It’s as remarkable as it is disturbing how well such obviously psychotic behavior, in which the provocateur successfully plays the victim, appeals to so many Americans, especially when times are bad.   Beaten down by forces larger than themselves, they prefer to identify with just those forces, if only for the vicarious satisfaction of punishing someone else even lower on the totem pole.  In the post-democratic America Republicans have created in their many years of misrule, you take what you can get.  As in any despotic oligarchy, the little people here are carefully taught to obediently await their reward in the afterlife.

The strategy is always the same, whether from dictator or wife beater.  Never mind what I, well, did; think of what my “angry” victim(s) might do if they aren’t forcefully marginalized, or eliminated.  Whichever.  This particular brand of Hitlerian (and I’m not using the term loosely) rhetoric has repeatedly led to, let’s just call them bad outcomes, but it continues to be trotted out because, at least for a time, it works.

Although Obama’s political difficulties are mostly the predictable results of his stunningly counterproductive lack of anger (at least at the right people), the Republican noise machine that includes basically the entire Washington press corps are dutifully pretending that he might have some, somewhere in there, and thus Romney’s claims will probably be called “mostly true” by what we laughably call “fact checkers.”

Dictators, wife beaters, and the entire staff of the Washington Post all agree that because some really crazy people believe a bunch of calculated, racist horseshit, no matter how implausible, it’s still worthy of the public discourse, rather than a ticket to the looney bin.   The only problem is all the anger.  What could possibly go wrong?


  1. dirigo says:

    Cripes, Mitt should be pissed that Paul, his new hire, has just admitted he hasn’t “run the numbers” on his fab budget plan.

    How are these old whiz kids going to answer questions about war and peace, sex and single girls, and all the other important stuff if they can’t get their budget tap dance routine straight?

    Some people will be angry about that, and it might be some who are friendly to these nerds.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Not only are they poor dancers, but if either of them had any plausible notion about the other four items you mentioned, I’d be a monkey’s uncle.

      • dirigo says:

        Jus’ thinkin’ (for what that may be worth): I’d like to see a debate between two dead white females: Ayn Rand and Helen Gurley Brown, moderated by Phyllis Schlafly (not yet dead but close).

        • cocktailhag says:

          I did see Phyllis Schlafly debate Sarah Weddington (who argued Roe v. Wade) when I was in college. (At Mac Court, no less….). Sadly, the whole thing had the feel of a road show on its last swing through the hinterlands, but I did find ol’ Phyll oddly fascinating; she was almost comically costumed as she chewed on the scenery. Lucy to Sarah’s Ethel.
          As for Ayn and Helen, they’d agree here and there, especially when it came to sex.

  2. loretta/retz says:

    Interesting insight. As a reluctant and accidental expert on all things sociopathic, there are other clever mind-fks utlized by these bullies – such as the perennial favorite games “Look What You Made Me Do!” and Gaslighting, as in “You Didn’t Really See What You Saw!”

    Sociopaths are usually pathological liars. I think it’s the blatant, bald-faced, smug lying that pisses people off the most. It makes you want to lunge out of your seat and grab them by the throat – which only bolsters their smirking, faux outrage when they say, “See how unreasonable she is? See what a PSYCHO she is?”

    Whereas Sarah Palin reminded me off all the women I worked with over the years who obtained their rise in power through the worst possible means (lying, conniving, sex, undermining, backstabbing, and betraying their sisters), R&R remind me of all the sociopathic bullies running corporations and banks.

    Retzilian prediction – Obama, with all his faults, will crush these guys. This won’t be a close race. That’s just media B.S. to keep the interest of stupid people who watch cable news.

    Long time no post here – but I have been reading. Incidentally, I had to laugh out loud at your post last week about memorizing songs. My close friends refer to me as the “Idiot Song Savant” because I remember lyrics to every song I ever heard, which also takes up too much RAM so I can’t remember whether I paid the electric bill this month or not. Seriously. Why? Why do I remember every Rogers & Hammerstein lyric?

    We must be related somehow.

    • cocktailhag says:

      The lying is always the key: Look how gloatingly proud Bush always was when he repeated a whopper that was, at the moment at least, going over. He gloried in the anger of his opponents, and he had them hauled publicly away when they got uppity, to make an example of them.
      All sociopaths may not be Republicans, bu here lately it seems that all Republicans are sociopaths.
      I’m so sorry you have the lyric tinnitus; it can be debilitating…. Mine’s even worse; I can still recite the prologue to the Canterbury Tales, many passages of Shakespeare, and whole blocks of dialogue from plays I’ve seen, and I can’t remember the password for my iphone app store.

      • loretta/retz says:

        I could always tell when Dubya was lying. He had a “tell” (as they say in poker parlance). He always gave away the lie with that smirk of his. He seemed about to crack up laughing every time he told a whopper. He was really a terrible liar. Dubya was not a skilled psycopath like Cheney – he was just a really stupid puppet who had trouble keeping his lies straight. That doesn’t make him any less evil, but he was kind of amusing.

        Dubya’s problem (which is common among the lesser intelligent narcissists) was that he was really lazy. If he had been a harder worker by nature, he would have been a much better liar.

        • loretta/retz says:

          psychopath. I can spell. Sorry!

        • cocktailhag says:

          That was the beauty of it all, for him. So many people (most of them in the media) wanted to believe him that i wasn’t worth telling a lie well. Who cares? So the NYT (sort of) apologizes almost a year later? Pfffft.
          That’s the infuriating part: Bush was quite successful, in many substantive if horrifying ways, without turning a wheel.