As regular readers will know, I am a lefty, politically, from way back. It is with a rueful semi-admiration that I observe that it is almost always the other side that frames our debates, relying on pith and misdirection while I expect logic to prevail. When I do that, I am the pocket-protected nerd, all over again.
What I'm thinking of this morning are the phrases "food police" and "nanny state," which are emotionally laden semi-accurate terms intended to convey a sneer before anything else. No need to listen; who could possibly support people with names like that?
Except that those tarred with "food police," for example, aren't police, even figuratively. A Google search for "Michelle Obama" and "food police," brings back more than 53,000 hits, but first ladies have no consitutional authority. She has an opinion and the bully pulpit, but is neither trying to, nor capable of, forcing change.
As for "nanny state," I enjoyed what Boyd Swinburn, an Aussie who is world-renowned in obesity research, shared with Kelly Brownell on a Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity podcast from 11/9/09 that I only heard this week:
The term is "a flippant way to dismiss what should be a serious public policy debate. My view is that nannies are very good for children; they try to protect children and they support parents. I think if government took up some of those characteristics, our chiildren would be in much better shape."
That's just it, "a flippant way to dismiss." You don't need to be right if you can misdirect the discussion away from the ideas at stake.