After I sounded off on @DaveWeigel yesterday, he and I had an email exchange. Let me just say this: I hope if the roles are ever reversed, I am able to be as gracious as he was. I wasn’t making stuff up or being obsequious when I said he really is a nice guy, and he proved that again yesterday.
He also responded to the criticisms leveled at him by not just me, but my friend and colleague at Washington Monthly, Ed Kilgore (we didn’t coordinate an attack or anything, I swear, his initial post really just pushed the same button in both of us) in a follow up post at Slate:
Ed Kilgore takes issue with my story about the life cycle of the “War on Women” talking point.
It’s not like any of the raw material Democrats used in talking about a “war on women” has been trashed; new examples are popping up almost daily. Arizona just became the seventh state to enact an abortion ban directly challenging Roe v. Wade, and Georgia will soon become the eighth. The Catholic Bishops just announced a summer campaign to make its attacks on the contraception coverage mandate a matter of existential importance. Mitt Romney is going to have to very conspicuously bend his knee to the Christian Right, with its anti-choice and anti-feminist preoccupations, in choosing a running-mate. The present and perhaps imminent behavior of the Supreme Court could make judicial appointments-and the tenuous nature of reproductive rights-a bigger issue than it’s ever been in a presidential election.
Indeed, and I don’t disagree with any of this! In the story, which tracks the various bills and statements and outrages that fed the “War,” the reader should grok that the Democrats were not making stuff up. They were just convinced, for a while, that the way to talk about various bills that could hurt poor women was to wrap and tie it all up with one term.
In response to my rant, he clarified his intentions: “What I was trying to do: Split the talking point from the underlying narrative,* like The Hulk being cleaved from Bruce Banner.”
Dude. You made a Hulk reference, and that goes a **long** way toward getting me to calm down.
After our email exchange, I see what he was trying to say, and while I still don’t agree, I would probably have disagreed…differently.
And therein lies the power of words. How we use them matters and can alter or set a narrative** in ways that can’t be undone. It’s damn important that what we say come across the way we intend it to.
* This is an irritating word, I agree. (Weigel)
** Cosigned (me)