Bob Franken

Passive Aggressive Politics

March 24, 2008
Passive-Aggressive Politics (Bob Franken)
@ 10:43 pm

There is little that’s more insidious than passive-aggressive behavior. It’s a way of trying to obscure nastiness, a deception used to avoid responsibility for mean words or actions.

When someone is offended by this camouflaged hostility, the antagonist puffs up in righteous indignation, ridiculing his target for being overly sensitive or misconstruing his intention. The smokescreen can confuse just about anybody.

One of its more artful practitioners these days would be a certain former Democratic president of the United States. Hint: His wife is running for president.

We got another whiff of this smelly tactic last week. Barack Obama, who obviously threatens the plans for a Clinton presidential dynasty, was having a bad time of it, defending himself against a controversy over his pastor’s anti-American tirades.

In the very same week, Bill Clinton just HAPPENED to make some out-of-nowhere comments about candidates’ patriotism. What a COINCIDENCE!

True to form, when Obama supporters cried foul, comparing the remarks to McCarthyism, the Clintons and their minions brushed them off for distorting Mr. Clinton’s meaning.

It’s the same thing that happened with him just a few weeks ago in South Carolina. In those cases, his words were widely construed as subtle racism. In those cases he also indignantly responded that he was hurt that the true intent of his language and construct were being distorted.

Again, we are talking about a former president of the United States — one who spent eight years in the world’s most powerful job, aware at all times how important each and every word was, how each might be understood. Now this master of parsing claims he is being misunderstood.

It’s an attempt at having it both ways. It is sneaking in a sucker punch and then ridiculing the person who might gasp a complaint about such a low blow.

It’s passive-aggressiveness — deception at its worst. It is the behavior of someone who wants to do or say something malicious and get away with it. It has no place in honorable politics. It needs to identified and condemned, as do those who try and get away with it.

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