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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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What's in a Pronoun?

Uploaded: Jul 23, 2012
There may be no more loaded word in the English language than "you."
It can be a fond term of endearment, as in, let's see, the phrase "I'm So-o in love with You" crooned by the Prez at a New York fund-raiser, with co-lyricist the Rev. Al Green in attendance. Conversely, "you" can create separation and put others on the defensive. Anyone who's been to couples counseling (yeah, I tried) will recall the "blame-game" injunction against "you" messages, in preference to "I" or "we" statements. It's no accident that the framers began the US Constitution with the phrase: "We, the people."

With the Presidential campaigns as scripted and choreographed as they've become, and in the absence of reliable deception detection, we are left with few hints as to what the candidates Really Think. This is especially true when the positions of at least one of the participants have been so remarkably fluid. Unguarded moments and careless words may be our best windows into the souls of those who would lead us. This week had two such telling moments, both involving "you."

The first came during Mr. Romney's address to the NAACP, which has so far been deemed newsworthy because of the politely negative reactions of his audience. To me, though, the most significant word in the speech was the last, in the phrase 'and may God bless every one of YOU." To Mitt, it was a magnanimous gesture, especially despite his chilly reception. It would simply never occur to him to have ended with an inclusive "every one of US." I found that "blessing" to be condescending and remarkably clumsy; I doubt I was alone, and I daresay it cost him more potential African-American votes than anything he said about health care or job creation.

That phrasing says to me that he has little appreciation of American experience outside his gated environs and that he has no intention of being president of You. During this time of extraordinary economic polarization, it is imperative that our leaders understand the America that is and have the multitude who are suffering directly in-mind. I am deeply concerned that, to Mr. Romney, the yous are a charitable after-thought, the under-appreciative beneficiaries of whatever crumbs trickle-off the banquet table.

The other incident was Ann Romney's unscripted "you people" comment to Robyn Roberts on day-time TV. It came in response to a query about the campaigns stubborn refusal to produce tax information from the years before Mr. Romney decided to run, again, including his latter-days at Bain Capital -- when he was not running the company as its CEO and sole shareholder.

Although Ms. Roberts appears to be black by heritage, the "you people" term in this context was probably meant to include the pack of news hounds nipping at the Romneys heels, and anyone else who deigned to probe into their lofty finances (the proper place for hounds, after all, is on the roof of a station wagon). Again, it betrays an expected deference, born of the privilege of wealth. It's not pretty, and it's certainly neither the humility nor perspective I want in our leadership.

Those tax returns are of public significance because they are actions that reveal what the candidate actually Did, as opposed to what he may say he believes. They are also a routine part of the game for those who seek our votes. "Trust me" statements like "something about my finances" or "Mitt's a very good person" don't cut it, and the addition of looking down one's nose at the request is doubly-damning. I wasn't all that interested before these strenuous denials, but the more strident they become, the worse the campaign looks as a result. One has to wonder: what's in there? Is it Even worse than the beating they are already absorbing? I don't often find myself in virtual bed with George Will, but he, too, recognizes that the returns should be produced.

Now, to be fair and balanced, the Incumbent also made a gaffe this week, which might provide a similar peek into the inner recesses of his heart. He suggested that business owners didn't build their own businesses, someone else did. In some quarters, this has been taken to demonstrate something roughly in-between ignorance of how business gets done in these United States, and the supposition that his private nickname for Michelle is "Comrade." I'm guessing that it was not much more than an uncharacteristically clumsy attempt to paraphrase Elizabeth Warren's insightful assertion about community: that we're all in this together, we Americans, and nobody succeeds alone. See this excerpt, starting at about 50 seconds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htX2usfqMEs. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

So, the Romneys won the weekly gaffestakes, 2-1. Returning to our theme, the Founding Fathers had it right. WE are still The People, and a candidate who forgets that, or doesn't know it, should not command the majority of our votes.

Comments

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Jul 24, 2012 at 8:52 am

Hi Rick -- it appears to be limited to just the header in the message board screen, this time. Very odd -- seems to relate somehow to MSWord 2010 vs. earlier versions. Please let me know if that weird symbolage exists throughout the blog -- thanks.

I know you wouldn't want to miss it!


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Jul 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Tom's blog entry this week reminds me of that classic scene in "Tropic Thunder" when Ben Stiller is arguing with his platoon about being lost in the jungle. One of his troops is Robert Downey Jr. who is in black face, pretending to be an African American. Stiller says, "I don't believe you people." And Downey says, "Wait. What did you say? What do you mean, YOU PEOPLE?" And then Brandon T. Jackson (who is an actual African American) says to Downey, "What do YOU mean, you people?"

Ha ha. It is a classic.

Here's the clip.

Web Link


Posted by Malcom X, a resident of Blackhawk,
on Jul 25, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Mr. Cushing, you must write just for kicks, right? Note to self: I could swear that Obama made the comment, "YOU didn't build that." Funny how there is no mention of that line in your column. Stay true to your party Mr. Cushing, but at least tell both sides of the story.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Jul 26, 2012 at 7:42 am

Hi X: nah -- I get paid, here and elsewhere, in addition to the kicks (and the various rocks and organics flung my way). And "you're" right -- I missed a chance to incorporate the President's 'you' in the paragraph about that statement -- it would've made it a better column.

BTW, pretty sure I'm registered Independent. Is there a way to look that up?


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Jul 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

Malcolm X, this is what what Obama said: "If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business — you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."

Did an individual business owner build the American System of roads, bridges, education, etc. that enabled his business to thrive? No, "we" built it. (Actually, our parents and grandparents built a lot of it. "We're" not doing so much for our own kids these days. But I digress.) Obama was saying the same thing that Tom was saying - don't think "you" are not part of society, that you somehow exist in your own world where you take sole credit for all you have achieved and owe nothing to anyone else.

Mitt Romney said the same thing to American Olympic team members at the Salt Lake Olympics. Web Link

I guess it only counts in athletics, not wealth creation, right?


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Jul 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Looks like maybe Romney didn't have too bad of a week. According to CBS, the latest poll shows Romney leading Obama by 5 points. See here:

Web Link

Maybe more people need to read Tom's articles. Help Obama out people!! Spread the word.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Jul 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I'll take the blame if my guy loses -- as long as you give me credit when he wins.

One job we now know your guy Isn't going to get, regardless: Ambassador to the UK. To paraphrase Churchill: "rarely have some many been so annoyed by just one man, and so quickly!"


Posted by Time for truth, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 29, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Actually, all's well. Piers Morgan on CNN did a great full-hour interview with Mitt and Ann Romney on the Olympic grounds. Aired Thur and Fri nights, and will re-air again, probably a Sat or Sunm this week or next.
Several days last week LONDON papers had commented on NOT being ready & security. In context, from Mitt's perspective, he made a logical comment.
He was called in to rescue A Winter Olympics, that were in crisis. He agreeded to try, and took no pay, acting to serve the US as HOST country. Overcame many obstacles, and 'international' issues. All coming together in 3+ years of work, including finding sponsors which were scarce at first, and just a few months from the event, .....Sept 11, 2001, hit our US.!! Suddenly, 'security' became a huge issue,(and trying to keep & find more donors/sponsors, many thinking Olympics should not happen at all.
But, on Dec 1, the flame started, and Olympics opened on scheduled FEB, 2001, 4 + months after the 9-1-1.
Romney served the term, did a turnaround rescue, and in spite of the terrorist tragedy and new security issues, the Winter 2002 Olympics were successful and profitable ! without incident.
A job well done. After accomplishing Initial turnaround, followed by new security crisis, he served his term and country well.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Jul 30, 2012 at 9:30 am

"logical" -- and wildly inappropriate to the situation, which called for a statesman-like approach, and response. He wasn't being asked to grade the Brits as an expert witness on the very day of his arrival, he was thrown a softball Q in the hope that he might find a way to be a gracious guest. A swing-and-a-miss, on an easy pitch, thrown right down the middle.

As for the do-overs, they mostly appeal to the several True Believers who are already pledged to Mr. Romney.


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