October 08, 2007


John Cole at Balloon Juice ("The Republican Decline", 10/5/2007) says "Hogwash" to David Brooks' theory that the Republican party is collapsing because the "ambition of its creeds" is no longer "restrained by the caution of its Burkean roots". Pointing to the furor over Barack Obama's missing lapel pin, Cole offers another explanation:

For starters, people got tired of being associated with these drooling retards. Then, when they realized that these drooling retards had ideological allies running the show in the Bush administration and then began to experience their idiotic policies, they moved from disgusted to outright hostile.

Like me. It had nothing to do with Burke, and everything to do with what the party had become. A bunch of bedwetting, loudmouth, corrupt, hypocritical, and incompetent boobs with a mean streak a mile long and no sense of fair play or proportion.

My interest in this manifesto focuses on its use of the modifier bedwetting. A couple of years ago, I was puzzled by Tony Snow's use of "the bed-wetting right" to refer to conservatives who were unimpressed by FEMA's response to hurricane Katrina:

And I guess that being a bed-wetter means "delayed in developing the basic characteristics for moving from infancy to childhood", or "inappropriately infantile", or something like that. Thus the idea must be that a grown-up conservative would defend a Republican administration no matter what. Expecting executive competence is something to outgrow, like diapers. It's hard to believe Snow meant that -- but what else could it be?

Now John Cole is using bedwetting in a string of uncomplimentary modifiers applied to Fox News and Tony Snow's wing of the Republican party. I guess that the common thread is an accusation of excessive complaining, associated with an embarrassing sort of immaturity.

This is an all-purpose insult, used more frequently and more widely across the political spectrum than I realized: {bedwetting conservative}, {bedwetting liberal}. So far, however, the words {bedwetting moderate} seems mostly to have come together in discussions of actual incontinence.

Posted by Mark Liberman at October 8, 2007 07:10 AM