The word of the day today was “NABOB” and you can Google the definition your damn self if your fingers haven’t been tragically burned off but the definition isn’t the point.
I will never ever think of the word outside it’s most creative use ever, in a Spiro Agnew campaign speech written by Conservative pundit William Safire (see below). Safire always recalls a time when despite bitter political disagreements there could be a common ground and even admiration of one’s opponent. There are a few I look back to with a degree of admiration for their talents: William Safire, Bill Kristol, and at one point there was George Will but he seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid of right wing hypocrisy. Maybe we’ll get him back, but who knows. I just miss a time when people I disagreed with actually challenged me and my convictions in a passionate, reasonable fashion. Anyway, for my history with the word NABOB:
nattering nabobs of negativism
A phrase used by Vice President Spiro Agnew to refer to the members of the media with whom he had a very acrimonious relationship.
Said Agnew while speaking to the California Republican state convention on September 11, 1970: “In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club — the ‘hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.’”
While the phrase is generally attributed to Agnew, it was actually written by White House speechwriter William Safire.
Will Bunch: “The words that William Safire penned and that Spiro Agnew mouthed actually had enormous impact that has lasted until this day. They helped foster among conservatives and the folks that Nixon called ‘the silent majority’ a growing mistrust of the mainstream media, a mistrust that grew over two generations into a form of hatred.”
“It also started a dangerous spiral of events — journalists started bending backwards to kowtow to their conservative critics, beginning in the time of Reagan, an ill-advised shift that did not win back a single reader or viewer on the right. Instead, it caused a lot of folks on the left and even the center to wonder why the national media had stopped doing its job, stopped questioning authority.”
There is a lesson in the above paragraph also. Attacks on the media are coming out of the highest offices harder and faster than at any point in recent history. We have millions of people who get every last bit of their news from those highest offices and never read anything but sports pages otherwise labeling everything they don’t want to hear “fake news.” It’s more important than ever for the news media to make truth and facts their first priority and worry about winning back readers later on.
I do believe that truth does prevail and I hope it happens soon. In the meantime it feels strange to be on the same side as guys like Bill Kristol, and the same side that I believe William Safire would have been on.