“A political narcissistic sociopath leveraged fear and ignorance” (or Tales of the 180 Tell)

A quick hit. Tell me, who does this quote describe?

“A political narcissistic sociopath leveraged fear and ignorance with a campaign marked by mendacity and malice rather than a mandate for resurgence and reform. [The campaign was used] as a vehicle for character assassination, replete with unrelenting and destructive distortion, derision, and division.”

I’ll restate the question — who does it describe perfectly? Yep, Mitt Romney and the Romney campaign. To a tee.

Now, who’s the speaker? …

I’ll bet you didn’t guess Mary Matalan (h/t Digby).

This is a perfect example of the 180 Tell (“180” as in a “180-degree wrong-way statement”). I’ve written about it before, but let me define it again this way:

The 180 Tell

The 180 Tell means you can exactly reverse what a right-wing propagandist is saying and get a perfectly accurate statement. It works two ways:

1. Whatever they say about themselves is true if you reverse it. When they say they’re white, you know they know they’re black, and just covering up.

2. Whatever they say about us is true about them. They tell us they’re robbing the poor when they say we’re doing it.

There’s not a more perfect example of the 180 Tell than the Matalin statement above. Go ahead; reread it. It’s a spot-on description, not only of the Romney campaign, but all modern Republican campaign tactics. What Limbaugh says daily works the same way, by the way. Reverse what he says and the man hits the mark every time. It’s his genius, such that he has one.

There are two uses of the 180 Tell — aside from its fascinating psychological implications.

■  It’s a tactic on their part, a conscious one to some degree, and also a clever one. It takes the evil they do off the table for criticism, by applying it so wrongly to others. This is why impeachment is off the table … well, one of the reasons anyway (Nancy Pelosi is the other reason).

■ It’s also a giveaway, an actual tell. When they talk about their opposition, they’re telling you what they’re up to. Sometimes they preview their plans before anyone knows them. For example, they accused the Dems of parachuting lawyers into Alaska to prosecute Sarah Palin for corruption as governor, several weeks before it was revealed they had done the same thing. If you used the tell, you could have had a scoop.

Tales of the 180 Tell — posted for your amusement on a post-election Sunday morning.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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