On “Teabaggers,” as the Obama Administration Now Calls Them

Okay, I’m officially disgusted. I let the whole “teabagger” pejorative go for a long time, consigning it to blogosphere hate-speech that didn’t matter that much.

But now the Obama administration is weighing in — and apparently “teabagger” is an official Obama administration term. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis addressed the Florida Democratic Convention last Saturday, and called the Tea Party “teabaggers” and promised to take them on.

“Teabagger” is possibly the stupidest and most offensive designation imaginable for the Tea Party, and the fact that it evidently has wings with the Obama administration speaks volumes.

“Teabagging,” just so everyone knows, describes sticking your testicles on someone’s face or in their mouth for sexual gratification. It’s a term with long-standing homosexual currency. And it’s therefore ironic, to put it mildly, that “teabagger” is a term of contempt by the left for the Tea Party. Are they condemning that particular sexual practice? Not likely. Just assuming that a sufficient number of people will get the joke.

Everybody gets it. Ha ha, “teabaggers” permits the “humorous” suggestion that Tea Party members, um, can be associated with this practice, while, ha ha, never having to take a moral position on tea-bagging (notwithstanding the implicit moral condemnation of tea-bagging). Oh my, we wouldn’t actually condemn tea-bagging, we just hate conservatives.

For the record, gays, teabag as much as you want. It’s your right. Or have trouble with it, as some of you do, also your right — and indicative of a healthy range. But I would respectfully suggest honorable opposition to use of “teabaggers” to describe political opponents. It rings profoundly untrue.

For the record, liberals who recklessly use the term “teabaggers” are massive hypocrites. It wouldn’t have bothered me so much until the Obama administration weighed in officially. That takes this administration yet another backward step in post-racial politics or any politics of conciliation, yet another confirmation that the Democratic party will cynically exploit the worst rhetoric, and yet another indication that American political discourse has stepped backward during this administration.


21 Responses to On “Teabaggers,” as the Obama Administration Now Calls Them

  1. squelsch says:

    None of that surprises me. All politicians are that way – people are like that. With Obama, it’s almost a little different. His endorsement of the OWS made him look like so spineless too. I’m losing my faith.

  2. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I’m disgusted, too. Thoroughly. I don’t use that pejorative when speaking of the Tea Party. Many people do and it’s unnecessary. But here you are condemning the entire Obama administration – even attributing the use of the word – to the entire Obama administration – because one individual used the term. Solis was wrong to use the term because she could have made her points without it. But when you use the category, “the Obama administration,” you don’t help matters much. That’s too broad a brush. Until we know that the entire administration uses and condones the word, no assumptions can be made. Remember – not too long ago, many conservatives were claiming that Obama was a Muslim and not born here – how many Republican leaders do you recall coming forward and condemning that speech? I recall none. I hope that Obama goes on record to state that the term is inappropriate, or at least has a meeting with Solis and demands that she temper her speech.

    Curiously, I did a Google search on her and – what do you know? More than a hundred conservative websites and blogs claiming that she’s “gay-baiting.” For gawd’s sake. Was she gay-baiting? Hell no. But do all these conservatives hopping on this crazy train make the discourse better? This is politics at its worst, turning an intemperate, ugly word used by a politician from the other side for “gotcha” moments – “Yeah, look at that. Solis used the word “tea baggers” – let’s get those liberals!” We elect humans to office, flawed humans. Very often, we’ll find these people losing themselves in the moment and resorting to intemperate speech. Let’s condemn the intemperate speech, not the person and not the entire administration that hired her. In a few days, maybe hours, she’ll apologize for her words. Perhaps. I hope so. But the conservative buzz that arose from this has incredible life and you can be sure it will play well into the hands of the party faithful. What’s uglier? Her using the word or the media and the conservatives distorting its use to further their ends?

    • squelsch says:

      Let’s not get too specific. This is U.S. politics. We need to lower our standards. If a democrat condemns the entire conservative agenda, Obama may as well put Rush Limbaugh before a firing squad.
      There is a time and a place to act mature. An election campaign is not that.

      • Snoring Dog Studio says:

        FUNNY! good one, squelsch.

  3. TD says:

    Was the snoring dog sleeping when Obama used the term himself in an interview?

    • Snoring Dog Studio says:

      Must have been. Or absent. Doesn’t mean I condone that, either.

    • Snoring Dog Studio says:

      And perhaps TD was sleeping when the Tea Party folks coined the term themselves and made it clear they wanted to be called that. To be offended over it now is a bit ridiculous, eh?

      • Jean, I don’t believe the word becomes less obnoxious simply because a member of the Tea Party used a form of the word at the inception of the Tea Party, and I don’t believe it’s accurate to say the Tea Party “made it clear they wanted to be called that” — much less that they’d wish to be called that now. I think it’s fair to surmise that the Tea Party member who originally used the word had no idea of its sexual connotation. I certainly didn’t until recently. I remember some gay friends were snickering about the word shortly after it became a common pejorative, and that’s how I first learned of its meaning. But however “offensive” it is or is not to different ears, I think it’s very inappropriate for members of the administration to use it.

        • Sedate Me says:

          No idea of the sexual connotation? A tad sheltered -eh?

          When the very first Teabagger I saw approached the camera with teabags swinging from his hat, some hitting him in the face, and yelling something to the effect of “I’m a teabagger, baby!” I fell off the couch laughing. Because I’ve (heterosexually) teabagged before…and I’ll teabag again! So call me a teabagger if you like. Just not with a capital T because I find it insulting.

          If it’s not homophobia and sexual connotation is all it’s about, then both the Democrats and Republicans need to change their mascots immediately. Do you have any idea the sheer number of euphemisms there are out there for just male masturbation alone? I kept a list in high school and ran out of paper before I ran out of euphemisms. Sexual innuendo grows faster than the most nasty bacteria on the most friendly of surfaces. So, if that’s the standard, then almost no name will be safe from such mockery for long.

          Have you heard what an “Obamacare” is? It’s right up there with The Aristocrats. (Hmm. The Aristocrats…I think I just came up with a better name for Occupy Wall Street) But I doubt anybody is going to start using “The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” anytime soon, even though that it’s official name and Obama never introduced it as Obamacare.

          Just like choosing the names of your children, you can’t be careful enough with your organization. (See World League of American Football, or WLAF) Because, once a nickname sticks, there’s nothing you can do about it (especially if you chose it yourself). Just look how black people have struggled over the centuries trying to replace the names they’ve been called and how many “name improvements” they’ve gone through in the attempt.

          But something is only as dirty and/or hurtful as you make it.

          • Okay Sedate Me, here’s the deal. This is a time-out — not intended to engage anyone else. I’ve been on the precipice of trying to decide whether I want to do this anymore. I had already written my last post, with farewells and deep appreciation for certain people who have made this experience truly enriching. Then I saw the Republican debate Wednesday night, and I decided, okay, I want to keep doing this, I want to keep trying to have this conversation. But I don’t have any stomach anymore for profanity, vulgarity, name-calling, and the like. I actually thought I did. I thought I, of all people, would truly welcome the most robust and pointed dialogue imaginable, as opposed to the treacly, gee you’re wonderful me-too alternative. But it turns out I care more than I thought about the actual caliber and tenor of the dialogue than I thought I did. On caliber, you’re great. You’re thoughtful, articulate, and you bring some interesting additional facts to bear on whatever issue I’ve teed up. On tenor, you suck. And I mean, you’re horrible. The reply above is not an example — hence its appearance here — I mean the previous three that went to spam and will stay there — and certain ones I let through previously. These were, while intelligent, remarkable instances of self-aggrandizement and condescension, vicious name-calling, wincing vulgarities in some cases, a level of cynicism about everything except yourself that boggles, and a rage that honestly needs an outlet in your own blog, where you can be entirely yourself and have conversations with yourself and whomever might venture there momentarily, as opposed to someone else’s blog, who extends an olive branch comprised of equal parts curiosity, fascination, respect and repulsion. You’re actually running off people — people who have communicated with me that you and Jeff are simply annoying to read based on your tenor — and they dare not contend with you because of the ridiculously cruel shredding that will follow. That means I need to mediate. Jeff has opted out, which is a net positive because he was a personal friend and made it way too personal. You hide behind Bogusaddress@privacy.com and obviously value your anonymity above all. See, I want to keep talking with the people who talk with me rather than at me. You don’t talk with anyone. You talk at people. You shower them with your notions, with a wincing measure of self-congratulation, and I’ve yet to see you take a social cue (e.g., from Snoring Dog Studio) or credit anyone else with any notion that didn’t simply buttress your own Notions. Would it cause physical pain to begin a message with a compliment rather than an insult? Is your self-image so tied to the nastiest condescension that you cannot even conceive a rudimentary respect for your less anonymous brothers and sisters struggling to discern both what they understand and what they don’t understand? Are you really as convinced, as you appear to be, that you actually understand it all? You get it, we don’t, and you’re here to grace us, the people ranging from 20-something to 80-something and vast life experiences, with the certitudes of someone who sounds 20-something?

            I’ve been conflicted about you ever since your first message. I honestly revel in the intelligence you bring to bear on the topics you address, even though we appear to disagree about nearly everything. You have a gift. But see, this is my space. And no more vulgarities, no more name-calling, no more profanity. If this time-out message runs you off, so be it. If it opens into a better space, where your impressive intelligence enriches our conversation, without putting ordinary people down (public figures are fair game), then welcome, truly.

            And yes, my anonymous friend, a “tad sheltered” I am, as sheltered as one can be doing law and politics in Washington DC.

          • Sedate Me says:

            As the late W.C. Fields used to say, “It’s a gift.”

  4. Jeff says:

    Damn you! Damn my eyes! 🙂 T.M.I.. I had heard the word teabagger had some sort of sexual connotation but I never knew what it was. Next time you decide to rob another piece of my innocense, please give just a bit more of a spoiler alert. I am so disgusted, I am switching back to briefs from boxers. I can never use the word tea bagger again and will simply have to resort to non-disgusting terms such as fascists and nut-jobs. Off topic and spinning off an idea of Jon Stewart the other night, what sort of group is it that condemns others for civil disobedience as criminals, yet, by their very name, celebrates, breaking onto a ship and dumping the cargo overboard? The OWS protestors would have to break into a bank and dump the money in the East River to reach the same level of criminality.

    Sometimes serious words have other corrupted evolutions through the sick and demented popular culture. The sexual use of the word tea bagger should offend all lovers of tea, who might, in their delight of the company of fellow tea lovers have, formerly, called each other “a tea bagger”. I mean think about, I knew kids named Dick and Randy when I was growing up. No one is named Dick anymore, except Dick Morris, who is in fact, one. Globalization brought the knowledge that the Brits laugh hysterically at us anytime they hear of anyone named Randy. There are plenty of other once perfectly good words that make schoolboys snicker i.e. “gay”, “ass” and many others. But I have had, until this point, a fairly clean mind, so I can’t think of any others.

    Other than that, Snoring Dog says it all. I’m going to take a shower now. I feel dirty.

  5. lbwoodgate says:

    Actually the Tea Party people and FOX news were the first to employ the term. Back last March correspondent Griff Jenkins of Fox News described the original protest act, ‘take a teabag, put it in an envelope, and mail it to the White House.’ In April, 2009 the Tea Party had their Tax Day with signs and exhortations to “Tea Bag the Fools in D.C.” and “Tea Bag the Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You.”

    I seldom use it anymore either since I discovered what it represents but when I do use it it’s as a reference to the “original intent” of the Tea Party people themselves.

  6. bigdtootall says:

    My mama taught me “sticks and stones..” and it was a valuable lesson to learn not to allow others to define myself and box me in. Now that I have grown older I have learned that words do have power but more importantly they can serve as a window to someones soul, even my own. When anyone vehemently lashes out it exposes their fear. The Tea Party has a lot of things going for them. IMHO, the TP has shown the system works. OWS, on the other hand, has done a poor job of expressing any particular goals and more importantly how to go about achieving them. Perhaps the progressive liberal left feels threatened by the success of the Tea Party and fear the OWS will fail to accomplish much if anything at all, thus the juvenile name calling and baiting. Why the conservatives resort to same tactics is another story.

    The irony that the liberal left cannot practice civil tolerance for traditional values but must resort to God awful name calling, baiting, and unsubstantiated accusations to express themselves puts them in company with Nixonian paranoids and brainwashed cultists unable to think and act independently of their self-appointed leaders is a good reason to take several steps back and breathe deep and ask, “Is it possible for progressive liberals to grant others the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness as they see fit?” After all our freedom fighters have made the supreme sacrifice for Americans of kinds to freely express themselves. Why the name calling? And why use a gay expression to belittle someone? Its really, uh, surreal. I dont get it. Please somebody enlighten me.

    Maybe its just me but being a child who came of age in the 60’s and the “Age of Aquarius”, I sometimes wonder if these OWS urchins are secretly and romantically trying to experience a little of the “summer of love”. Patchouli and pot smoke are reminiscent of a very brief time when “the people” questioned authority and were willing to die (as some unfortunately did) to exercise their privilege to speak and assemble freely. It was the best of times and the worst of times but people were willing to go all the way to stop a needless war. Together the people made it happen. No one is quite sure of what OWS is all about. Perhaps they are vicariously searching to go back to one short time, one short summer along time ago. I hope they find what they are looking for but first they will have to figure out what that is. Time machines, like truly affordable electric cars are still in the future. My wish for them is to practice some common courtesy and some common sense; qualities that seemed to be lacking on both sides of the fence.

  7. Jeff says:

    bigdtootall makes reference to the old sticks and stones axiom taught us by our parents. The rest of that is, “but names can never hurt me.” Unless, of course, we let them hurt or want them to hurt. The point of the axiom is to say, “Buck up. Don’t let it get to you. Grow thicker skin.” Beneath all of the outrage and emotion here lately, there is this simply fact: One Obama administration official used the word teabagger one time at a Democractic Convention and it suddenly becomes an “official” Obama administration term. It’s just terrible isn’t it? However,for three years, there have been hundreds, nay, thousands, of references from elected Republicans and Republican leaning media outlets, and, most viciously, from the Tea Party element itself, calling the Presdient of the United States, a liar, a socialist, a nazi, a terrorist, a radical Muslim sympathizer, a non-citizen, and a dozen or more other disrespectful names and downright ugly and unAmerican insinuations.

    As far as OWS, bigdtootall, it has been around about 5 minutes. The Tea Party has it’s roots in the John Birch Society and has been a festering movement for years. They have been through one election cycle officially as a wing of the R-party. OWS is a reaction to mostly, but not exclusively, R-party policies, which lead to giant corporate failures, from Enron continuing into the present. OWS is a reaction to a newer set of rules that institutionalized corruption, and gained the legal seal of approval with the Citizen’s United decision from the Supreme Court. The country isn’t for sale, it was bought and paid for, mostly under R-party watch.

    When the R-party has been in power they have done nothing to help the vast majority of Americans, prefering the vast majority of campaign donors, which is why the voters then come back to the Democrats. But then the Democrats have trouble, to put it lightly, governing, and the Republicans come back with policies that only favor people I don’t know. “Where are the jobs?” bellowed John Boehner. The R’s won an election. “Where indeed?” I would ask. Fear? Yes, I am afraid for our country. As every Frank Capra film, Stienbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and all of our wars illustrate, we are only at our best when we are inspired and united for the Common Good. Barry Goldwater was afraid of evangelicals, Nixon and Johnson were paranoid of just about everyone outside their shrinking circles. Barack Obama on the other hand has just kept moving, not always effectively, not always in the direction that I would have hoped, but never in my life have I seen any person more vilified, save, perhaps, Roman Polanski, Hitler, you know, people who actually deserved it.

    Conservatives will always gleefully point out to a liberal, “See, you guys are (fill in your human flaw here) _________, too.” I have been in a State Democratic Caucus room where a fistfight broke out over an issue with underlying racial tension. I have heard Democrats tell nigger jokes. One-ups-manship really wears me out. A respected Texas Senator who went to my high school passed a note around study hall during the busing crisis in 1972 saying, “Send them back to Africa where they belong!” Does that make him a racist today, even though he is a Republican? Hell, No!

    bigdtootall’s comment about liberals not tolerating traditional values is not well-researched. Among religious and political conservatives the incidence of traditional values such as domestic violence, divorce, teen pregnancy, child abuse and drug and alcohol problems is very high. I realize that everyone wishes they could be the party of traditional values but none can make the claim. Everytime we delight in some Democratic scandal, there is a Rebublican to follow. What we have gotten turned around on is that, People can be dispicable human beings before they get into and unrelated to their politics. Liberalism does not lead to sexual deviance, otherwise how would one explain, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Larry Craig, and the NRCC using strip clubs for fund raisers, the RNC using a lesbian bondage and discipline club in L.A.. The Bill Clintons, Elliot Spitzers, and Weiners of the world jus make me embarrassed for humanity. Not so much because they are naughty sexual beings but because they all lied about it.

    I vote for a number of Republicans. I have a harder stance on illegal immigration than anyone writing in this blog, including the author. There are, I believe, several other issues where I am more Conservative than most of the people in the party that I vote for. But, alas, my countrarian posts have me branded a leftist. I am to the left of the Republican party, that’s for sure. The last time I checked so was the rest of the country. But politics is becoming irrelevant. The people are moving in ways that parties just can’t seem to understand. It’s a good thing. For all of my rhetoric, I sat through a big Tea Party rally in the Woodlands, at first terrified, and then discovered I agreed with them on some issues. Then some guy with slick jet black hair started ranting and raving about the socialist president and second amendment options, and they lost me.

    Anyway, I have taken a vow to move off this space and let some fresh air in and I intend to do just that. Vaya con dios amigas!

  8. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Now I’m really bummed, Jeff, because your comment was thoughtful and balanced. That’s what’s needed here. We need a counterpoint to one-sided comments like: “The irony that the liberal left cannot practice civil tolerance for traditional values but must resort to God awful name calling, baiting, and unsubstantiated accusations to express themselves …”

    Wow. Don’t know where bigd has been for the past 7 years or so … And the characterizations of the OWS folks are so trite and irrational. The OWS isn’t a monoculture.

    Being left of the Republican party isn’t a monoculture, no more than being to the right of it is.

    I’m staying with Kendrick as long as he’ll keep posting. I think he got fed up recently, but we all do once in a while.

    I hope you’ll reconsider leaving, Jeff.

  9. lobotero says:

    I like this post and was just going to leave it there…..but…..I am one who has used teabagger, but in my defense I started using that before I knew the alternate meaning………. it for those people with bags hanging off their hats……I have tried to not use the term but I am weak and have reverted at times…..sorry……

  10. When I heard the Tea Partiers refer to themselves that way, I thought, “Seriously? They’re joking right?” Unfortunately, they walked into it. I don’t use the term because it’s just gross and TMI. And the fact that Secretary Solis used that term is terrible.

  11. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Two gifts I received today: Knowing that Kendrick will be back to offer his intelligence and wisdom so that I can open up to different views.

    The privilege of being able to comment on this blog without being subjected to the juvenile ramblings of a self-centered oaf.

    Sometimes you do have to put up the sign that says, “Adults Only.”

    • Your steady kindness sustained me. Thank you dear Jean.

  12. Pingback: On Occupiosity and Making Real versus Illusory Differences « The Prince and The Little Prince

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