I reproduce for your reading pleasure the lyrics of a little song my 7-year-old daughter and her 6-year-old cousin wrote tonight, spelling mistakes intact. I’ll buy a beer for the first person who correctly deciphers the content.
Prosint Bose is stopied and men.
Prosint Bose looks like a piall of po.
Prosint Bose is men,
and we are geting out of here.
And yes, there is a point to posting this online, which I will get to later.
Mark gets the beer, but Scott deserves credit for decoding most of it. The correct translation is:
President Bush is stupid and mean,
President Bush looks like a pile of pooh,
President Bush is mean,
And we are getting out of here.
I should mention that when I asked my daughter to translate the spellings, she could hardly stop laughing as she sang me the song. Children have a natural predilection for scatological humor, and often take great joy in mocking adults… so what could be funnier than comparing the president of the United States to a pile of pooh?
Like any doting parent I spent some time pondering the lyrics as we drove home from her cousin’s house, and a couple observations came to mind that prompted me to blog on her little exercise in political satire.
First, it struck me that her commentary was not really all that more childish than the level of discourse that sometimes runs through the threads on this blog. One might argue that “a pile of pooh” is as apt a political metaphor as any, for describing the Bush administration; indeed, I could probably write a couple thousand words expanding on the analogy. But on its own, it’s just the kind of empty (if sometimes funny) personal attack that too often substitutes for real policy debate. President Bush may very well be stupid and mean, but until my daughter backs it up with evidence and analysis, she’s not going to persuade many of her peers.
However, my second observation runs a bit deeper, and it is one which I am happy to see has already been touched upon in this thread. My daughter comes from a very politically passionate family — you might be surprised to learn, even more so on her mother’s side than her father’s. Even without direct instruction, she is being raised through osmosis, to be a liberal Democrat, in the same way that a child might be raised a Catholic or a Jew… in the same way that her Seattle-born, Irish Catholic mother and her Philadelphia-born Jewish father were both raised with a shared political philosophy.
Just like the friends of mine who describe themselves as “recovering Catholics,” there are certainly many children who grow up to reject the political tendencies of their parents, through some combination of thoughtful conversion and sheer rebelliousness. But politics and party identification tends to run through families… and it runs deep.
No doubt there are many voters who are politically secular, with no loyalty to one party or another, but it is safe to bet that few if any of you who regularly join me in this blog fall into that category. We are the political hardcore; for most of us, our political ideology is deeply rooted in our childhood, even for those who rejected the politics of their parents. Thus, our politics are integral to our personal identity.
I myself am a liberal, and while I may be persuaded to adopt a traditionally conservative position on particular points of policy, I am no more likely to accept Karl Rove as my savior, as I am Jesus Christ.
But as a liberal, I am also proudly a moral relativist. I do not believe that those of you with whom I disagree with politically, are evil. Wrong, but not evil. (Well… maybe Cynical.)
For the umpteenth time I want to repeat that I don’t mind the name-calling and invective, indeed, I encourage it if it makes an otherwise wonkish policy debate a little more entertaining. But I also encourage a little more self-awareness… an understanding that your core political beliefs are not nearly as much a product of reasoned introspection as you would like to imagine, and that the political “other” is not really so different from yourself. It is rhetorically convenient to demonize the opposition as a bunch of liars and thieves, willing to do anything to seize power, but if you truly believe this, then I suggest you need to look deep into your own heart — and your childhood — to confront your own inner demons.
So here’s hoping we can all continue to walk together through the dog park of Washington politics, avoid stepping in the occasional “piall of po,” and sometimes even learn something from one another.