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Annoyance Theory

There are a lot of annoying people on the planet. Almost everyone is annoying to some degree, and at some time or another. But there are some people who go well over the boundaries of acceptable annoyance, and provoke rebellion. Not to trivialize History, but look at the American Revolution. While events went out of control and led to armed insurrection, they started - well, for lack of a better word, as annoying. Taxes that applied only to the colonies. Rules from London that Parliament and the Crown never planned to discuss, let alone apply to themselves. Requirements that started out as minor, but more and more sent the signal that the Americans were considered not merely second-class citizens of the Empire, but were themselves all but property of the Crown. Insulting, and when you boil the Revolution down to its essentials, it comes down to the fact that the British Government just went too far. No one has ever claimed that the Parliament was as bad, say, as the Huns under Genghis Khan or the Romans under Nero, but for all that they went beyond the lines that the people would accept. The American people, anyway. Recent years seem to indicate that the modern Britons are, sadly, all too willing to be treated like property of their government. And in short order, this helps explain recent American politics on the national level. In 1994, the American people were fed up with the arrogance of Clinton and the Democrats, and handed Congress over to the GOP, since the Republicans at least had promised specific changes in accord with the public will. In 2006, however, the apparent failure of the GOP to stick to their word caused the people to give the Congress back to the Democrats, who had been promised ethics, accountability, and representative government. In 2008, that same spirit led many Americans to support Barack Obama, seeing as he promised to be open and accountable to the American people (just a suggestion, Mister President - if you'd kept all those promises you made, most of your support would still be there; lying to folks generally gets found out and is neither smart nor effective in the long term), and it's pretty clear to everyone not addicted to teleprompter-induced unicorn droppings that Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat went to a Republican because the good folks in Massachusetts decided firing a shot across the bow wasn't getting the message across, so they put one into the mizzenmast of Obamacare.

This is nothing new, really. Clinton got elected in 1992 mostly due to American annoyance at Bush I breaking a tax promise. Nixon got elected in 1968 due to Johnson getting caught out as a liar and a crook (ironic, considering Watergate). And FDR got a lot of political mileage blaming the Depression on the Republicans, something Obama tried to do but fumbled, not only because the present situation is no 'Depression', but also because his own party had more to do with its cause than they admitted, which the American people have begun to recall. As a result of all this, a lot of Conservatives have begun to anticipate big gains this fall, on the assumption that the voters will ahnd Congress back to them, the House for sure and maybe the Senate, too.

But will they, really?

Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts was important, but it remains to be seen if it will resonate nine months from now, especially on a national scale. Already, conservatives, moderates, independents and even liberals are claiming that his win demonstrates the strength of their own political views. But it's also important to understand the limits to playing on annoyance. Jimmy Carter, for example, convinced Americans that Democrats should be trusted more than Republicans. But by 1980, his performance had undone that conviction. A politician may gain an office through fear-mongering or playing on the public's annoyance with an incumbent, but earning the public's trust depends on something better. This is a hallmark of Reagan, and before him FDR and the other significant leaders. Leadership, when all I said and done, is something much different and greater than simply playing on anger and resentment.

But returning to annoyance. It must be said of horseflies that they are persistent, and the same is true of politicians who play on ire to their advantage. We must presume that all the politicians involved in this fall's contests will be energetic is their use of attacks and criticisms. Anyone dismayed by the tone of the last few elections had better stock up on movies and books, and shut off the TV between June and January. There is a firestorm coming, of great intensity and spite, wherein all manner of malice and false accusation will be raised against the evidence which otherwise would overwhelm the hypocrites, of whatever political color and symbol. For there are true and false Democrats and Republicans, just as there are traitors and fools in every country and culture. The difference is the integrity and courage to be found among those who carry their party's name in the public eye.


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Comments (10)

"Scott Brown's win in Ma... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:

"Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts was important, but it remains to be seen if it will resonate nine months from now, especially on a national scale."

Nobody on the right seems to be talking about the fact that Brown supports abortion - and that it will take more pro-abortion GOPers to replicate Brown's success on a national scale.

From "On the Issues: Every ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

From "On the Issues: Every Political Leader on every Issue":


"Brown pointed out that he and Coakley both support legalized abortion. "Yet we have a very real difference," Brown said, "and the difference is I'm against partial-birth abortion, you're not."

"He also opposes federal funding for abortion, supports strong parental consent rules for minors, and supports the ban on what opponents call partial-birth abortion."

"Brown has angered abortion-rights groups with acts like his cosponsorship of the Women's Right to Know Act, which would require a woman to wait 24 hours before having an abortion and to review pictures and information detailing the developmental progress of her fetus."

Steve, as usual, is wrong on the salient points.

Steve Green won't tell you ... (Below threshold)
Victory is Mao's:

Steve Green won't tell you the truth but I will. The fact is we liberal trolls all glory in the thought of the millions of babies that have been legally killed since Roe v Wade. They are all filth just like you neocons. FILTH!


Steve,Brown's stan... (Below threshold)
jim m:


Brown's stand is not the typical pro abortion democrat stand. He's pro parental notification AND consent. He also supports a ban on partial birth abortion. Obama believes in abortion so much that he voted in Illinois to allow you to kill your baby after it was born.

More significantly, he is down the line conservative when it comes to fiscal policy. He opposed Obama's biggest issues: Health Care and Cap and Trade. He also opposes Obama on immigration.

You can pretend all you want that he is some dem in disguise, but it simply aint so. No he's not ever going to be the most conservative member of the Senate, but he's to the right of every democrat.

Wow, another thread where S... (Below threshold)

Wow, another thread where Steve Green is commenting.

But not on any of the "global warming" threads.

That's so strange.

Why is that Stevie?

Why why why?

Steve -You seem to... (Below threshold)

Steve -

You seem to believe that there's always just one issue that'll cause support to just disappear for a candidate.

I'm against abortion, personally - but I also believe that a woman has the right to choose for HERSELF what she can do or not do. And that right is the law of the land, not to overturned unless the LAW goes that way.

You know, if you take a look at the Bill of Rights, there's a whole lot of issues that have been contentious over the decades. But one thing you'll note by reading the amendments in the Bill of Rights is that there's only ONE amendment that restricted the freedoms of a law-abiding inhabitants of this country - and that was Prohibition. The rest were either granting rights (allowing everyone 18 years old or older to vote regardless of sex or color) or repealing other amendments (the 21st, repealing Prohibition) or were administrative in nature (establishing line of succession, restricting the Presidency to two terms, and so on).

The only one restricting the rights of a citizen was Prohibition, and it took 11 years to repeal that.

I don't see an amendment restricting abortion has a chance of passage. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I'm sure not going to worry about it. It's kind of hard to be concerned about the color of upholstery in the bus when the driver is doing his damned best to drive it off a cliff - and that's what Obama's doing at this point.

So if someone's saying he'll stop what's going on, and restore fiscal sanity to the government, and stop with the $1.6 trillion annual deficits, and work on cutting back the size (and appetite) of government, I'm not going to worry too much about what he's thinking about abortion!

I only regret is this sorry... (Below threshold)

I only regret is this sorry corrupt fool died a free man, instead of in prison where he belonged. His theft from the American people and the damage that he was responsible for is discusting. The Pelosi corruptocrats have protected him for years and have profited from his action. I should feel sorry for his family but knowing that he has made most of them rich by his corruption, and knowing that they will inherit the money that he stole from the American people I can not bring myself to feel sorrow.

You all are giving Steve th... (Below threshold)

You all are giving Steve the attention he sought. He is a lonely, pathetic person. ww

Annoying persons from PETA ... (Below threshold)

Annoying persons from PETA trying to force their rediculous philosephies on us all Enviromentalists wanks from GREENPEACE tresspassing on private or goverment property to unfurl their dumb banners,

"You seem to believe tha... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:

"You seem to believe that there's always just one issue [abortion] that'll cause support to just disappear for a candidate."

Yes, I do. If there's a an anti-abortion alternative many die-hard social conservatives will pivot on that one issue.






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