That Bullied Grandma on the School Bus? NY Times Imagines Rush and Newt as Her Tormentors

From the Wow That's a Stretch Department: New York Times columnist Charles Blow has taken the story of a grandma being bullied by children on a school bus in upstate New York and found another metaphor for Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and conservatives in general.

"Those boys are us, or at least too many of us: America at its ugliest. It is that part of society that sees the weak and vulnerable as worthy of derision and animus," with the "us" being the conservatives. "This kind of behavior is not isolated to children and school buses and suburban communities. It stretches to the upper reaches of society — our politics and our pulpits and our public squares."

Whether it is a Republican debate audience booing a gay soldier or Rush Limbaugh’s vicious attack on a female Georgetown law student or Newt Gingrich’s salvos at the poor, bullying has become boilerplate. Hiss and taunt. Tease and intimidate. Target your enemies and torture them mercilessly. Maintain primacy through predation.

Mr. Blow thinks the conservatives are in Bullying Mode because they're losing and getting increasingly insecure:

A Gallup poll released Thursday found that a record number of people (54 percent) say that they would be willing to vote for an atheist for president, and 1. a Gallup poll last month found that more people support same-sex marriage than oppose it.

These dramatic shifts are upending the majority-minority paradigm and are making many people uneasy.

The Republican-Democratic divide is increasingly becoming an all-white/multicultural divide, a male/female divide, and a more religious/less religious divide — the formers the traditional power classes, and the latters the emerging ones.

This has led to some increasingly unseemly attacks at traditionally marginalized groups, even as — and possibly particularly because — they grow more powerful.

Women are under attack. Hispanics are under attack. Minority voting rights are under attack. The poor are under attack. Unsurprisingly, those doing the attacking in every case are from the right.

Seldom is power freely passed and painlessly surrendered, particularly when the traditionally powerful see the realignment as an existential threat.

The bullying on that bus was awful, but so is the bullying in our politics. Those boys were trying to exert power over a person placed there to rein them in. But bullying is always about power — projecting more than you have in order to accrue more than your share.

Sounds like the frightened, insecure part of American society. 

Naturally, they loved this rhetorical tactic at the Daily Kos blog. The diarist "Xaxnar" picked up where Blow left off on the bullying theme, and hilariously claimed that the liberal establishment gave Occupy Wall Street "tepid" support:

The Republicans have been perfecting their media machine and their messaging for decades. They win by mobilizing their troops and demoralizing their targets. Turn on FOX, Rush, Beck, Hannity, etc. etc. You'll hear a constant stream of taunting, lies, insults, and false victimhood. You'll hear any opposing voices that manage to break through momentarily instantly shouted down and cut off. They have incorporated bullying into their DNA - and they're not afraid to use it.

Contrast that with the tepid support for Occupy Wall Street from the establishment that should have been on its side. Damn few Democratic politicians turned out to support it; the party distanced itself from what was and is a genuine spontaneous uprising against the bullying ordinary people experience every day, the bullying that is the driving engine of Wall Street and conservatives. The Tea Party enjoyed the backing of billionaires funding them in the shadows and pointing them at targets. Occupy Wall Street was actively suppressed by the forces of Homeland Security and the rest of the police state apparatus put together by the bullies who ran the country (badly) up until 2008. And yet this suppression has come with covert support from the highest levels of the administration. Who is playing who here?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis