Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Stuck On Stupid"

(Hat tip: Instapundit, who seems to have fallen in love with this phrase.)

Lieutenant-General Russel Honore, in charge of emergency operations at New Orleans, is starting to be credited with a new catchphrase. Witness this transcript on Radioblogger, where the good general is trying to keep oblivious reporters from creating a mass panic:

Honore: Buses at the convention center will move our citizens, for whom we have sworn that we will support and defend...and we'll move them on. Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on.

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.

I'm not sure that General Honore originated the phrase, but when I googled it, the first several of 86 thousand hits seemed to credit him for it. In any case, both Radioblogger and Instapundit have fallen in love with it. Radioblogger:

I think the General just started a movement, and he may not even realize it. Every time a reporter, in any situation, starts spinning, or completely misses the point, they need to be peppered with, "Don't get stuck on stupid."

I'd pay money to see David Gregory in the White House Press Corps foaming at the mouth over something trivial Scott McClellan said, and have McClellan say, "David, you're stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that."

I'd have fallen out of my chair if John Roberts would have listened to Joe Biden ramble on, and said, "Don't get stuck on stupid, Senator."

I can see the bumper stickers now. I can even see those stupid rubber wristbands with DGSOS etched in them.

And the Instapundit, on Hugh Hewitt's radio show:

HH: Okay, let's turn to Honore and the press today. Don't get stuck on stupid. You loved that. You've already linked to it over at Why does that resonate, do you think?

GR: Because that's what they've done. I mean, I had a thing on my MSNBC site about Aaron Brown, who over the weekend was attacking FEMA's recommendations that people stockpile food and water as some sort of after the fact CYA thing, completely oblivious to the fact that FEMA and the Red Cross and other people had been recommending that for years. He's stuck on stupid. All he can see is a political story and blame. And that's exactly what the General was talking about.

HH: And so, do you think when he said that to that reporter, do you think he heard him? Or do you think re resented being singled out by a government person?

GR: I have never known reporters to be especially good at accepting constructive criticism.

HH: Yup. I'm afraid that's going to be the case, Glenn. Now do you expect that we'll see that posted around the web before too much longer?

GR: Oh, I think it's going to be a new slogan, because it just fits so well. From what I read of Dan Rather's speech, he's still stuck on stupid.

HH: You may have to do a monthly stuck on stupid award to the media, Glenn. We could have nominees. You could run that thing. Stuck on Stupid for October could be started pretty soon, because we've got too many nominees right now.

What's nice about this phrase is that it's very simple, resonating in its pronunciation, yet encompasses a modern phenomenon: a tendency of reporters or politicians to act on a predefined meme, despite already receiving a comprehensible response.

It's also politically neutral: Stephen Harper can be called "stuck on stupid" when it comes to the gay marriage issue, while Carolyn Parrish can be "stuck on stupid" when it comes to the Armed Forces. And Angry_in_TO can be "stuck on stupid" when it comes to Cindy Sheehan. In almost all cases, the implied message from the phrase is: "It's been dealt with already. It's time to move on."

"Stuck on stupid." The perfect phrase for today's journalism.

UPDATE (19h59): Robert "I Must Insult Intelligent People In Order To Boost My Oversensitive Ego" McClelland has suggested, in his usual diplomatic manner, that the phrase is African-American in origin. Since he offers no supporting documentation (which is typical for a nekulturnik like Bob), I've run a second search. Apparently his assertion is based on the fact that the phrase appears in a book on Black terminology. But let's see if there are any Net definitions around.

So far, I've found it to be a synonym for "crazy," and "really fusked up," but I haven't located anything indicating when people started using the phrase. I did, however, figure out why Gen. Honore seemed to be getting credit for it: it seems a writer for the Christian Science Monitor attributed it to him:

A man of a thousand one-liners, Honoré has told soldiers to keep their guns down: "This isn't Iraq." Aides-de-camp says he knows how to cut through the thickets of famously murky Louisiana politics. At a recent staff meeting here at Camp Shelby, he growled, "We're not stuck on stupid." It became the saying of the day, written on a bulletin board.

So far the best rumination on the phrase that I've found is from a pastor named Mike Ramey:

Sadly, my friend brought up the fact that a relative still had a taste for crime. This relative got his start breaking into houses--including their home--and doing time in the various juvenile facilities around my home state. Now, the brother had ‘graduated’ to the adult system, leaving behind a wife and two children.

My friend rounded out the conversation by using a phrase that used to be common among us. That phrase: "Stuck--On Stupid". Meaning that, no matter how many times the brother was warned about the evils of crime; no matter how many times he got caught and had to face a judge; no matter how many people this brother hurt; he was still bound and determined to ‘do it his way’, no matter the consequences.

The brother was "Stuck--On Stupid".