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What Political Rhetoric Do We Take For Granted? You “Decide”

Having referred to myself last week as a burgeoning partisan lunatic, I’ve decided not to endanger Lilith’s non-profit status with a long enraged rant about political issues right now. I’d rather discuss political rhetoric, as that’s a pretty fruitful field of lunacy, too.

If one of the downsides to having female candidates in the running is the rampant misogyny we’ve gotten to see for the last eighteen months, one of the upsides has obviously been watching comedians rip that misogyny to shreds. (And, as twenty-three people have asked me in the last twenty-three hours, have you seen the SNL skit yet? Because if you haven’t, you should. And if you’re a feminist and you haven’t—well, damn, what are you waiting for? Check it out!)

Finally, we get to enjoy being the subjects of the joke in a relevant way! These jokes, when properly wielded, also serve to bring even feminist
sensitivities to the relentless news cycles. And in thinking about how the language of this looooooong election has played out, this kind of joking revelation can be a welcome break—and also really powerful.

It’s fascinating what we’ve come to take for granted in American politics. One day, fuming, I started showing my girlfriend a day’s worth of email “alerts” about the danger of an Obama administration for Israel. She’s pretty politically savvy, so when she ask, “Do you think any serious candidate for President would ever consider downgrading American support for Israel?” (I said, “Nope,” but more on that another time), I knew we’d both realized how hegemonic political support for Israel has become. (Not counting President Carter, of course.) It is self-evident that Obama’s perceived lack of support for Israel is a political liability—this we can agree on regardless of our various perspectives on the veracity of such claims. It’s a fixed part of our political landscape.

I’m not sure how I feel about that, to be honest, but I’m far more intrigued by the hilarious video by The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee.

If you’ve been a little confused by all this accolades for Bristol Palin’s decision to carry through her pregnancy (I know, I know, this was last week’s news cycle, but this thought had to percolate—sorry!), well, Sam Bee and I are there with you. Decision? Like…a choice? So, you mean, you’re just accepting a natural the idea that she had a choice? Because think about it: if she deserves credit for “making the right choice” then we’re pretty much accepting the fact of that choice as something normal. Is this some strange sign of victory—to have made so much of the existence of such a right that it’s taken for granted—in the rhetoric of its political enemies? Are we at Israel’s level of political-jargon stick-to-it-ive-ness with the choice thing yet?

We can only hope. But I think it is important to pay attention to such things. If people are going to take choice for granted at the same time they bitch and moan about it, we should point that out. Maybe one day support for choice, too, will be as obvious a sign of political normalcy as support for Israel.

–Mel Weiss