I’ve often treated Oliver Willis as a bit of a punching bag. Whenever I feel the need to get annoyed about something, I can often count on him to have something stupid, something silly, or something just plain wrong to work with. I most often use him as a quick way of double-checking my own opinions; if I disagree with his take on something, I feel a little more confident that I’m correct.
But that’s not fair to Oliver. In the past few weeks, he’s had several very good ideas on his site.
Unfortunately, none of them were his own.
First, he decided to trot out his new catch-phrase, “CDS,” or “Conservative Derangement Syndrome,” in a shot at Glenn Reynolds. Any resemblance to “Bush Derangement Syndrome, coined by Charles Krauthammer in December of 2003, was, I’m sure, purely coincedental.
Last Friday, though, Oliver scored a double. First up, Oliver posted this gem of wisdom. I’m sure that when he wrote “If it’s not close, they can’t steal it,” he momentarily forgot the title of Hugh Hewitt’s book of last year, “If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat.”
Then, barely two hours later, Oliver let loose the rhetorical cannons with this salvo. Perhaps Oliver is too young to recall the election of 1992, when former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas coined that term to describe Bill Clinton. (For those historically challenged, Tsongas beat Clinton in the New Hampshire primary, but Clinton touted his second-place showing as proving he was “the comeback kid.” I’m proud to say that I voted for Tsongas, who struck me as a fairly sensible and moderate Democrat, in that election.)
Now, Oliver’s defense could be that he’s trying to re-define those phrases, trying to strip them of their power against liberals by using them in an ironic fashion, much like the “101st Fighting Keyboarders” are looking to embrace their critics’ attacks. If that’s the case, though, he’s doing it remarkably ineptly (big surprise there). It’s usually considered good form to at least acknowledge one’s source material, and not try to convey the impression that it’s one’s original idea.
Alternately, Oliver could be jumping on the Al Gore environmentalist bandwagon by promoting the “renew, reuse, recycle” philosophy to political rhetoric. This would also fit into Oliver’s history for being wrong-headed; if there is anything that is in overabundance right now, it’s political catch-phrases and jargoneering. It’s as if Greenpeace suddenly declared that whalers were an endangered species and demanding the maintenance of our current levels of greenhouse gases.
Anyway, Oliver, thanks for being such a consistent ass, and giving me an excuse to trot out one of my favorite Tom Lehrer quotations. (What, you thought I wouldn’t cite my source for the title, after mocking you for not doing it? For shame, Oliver!)