dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

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February 24th, 2006 by dk

Have you ever argued terribly with a spouse over whether Christmas card envelopes should be colored or white? Or nearly ruined a vacation because somebody else forgot to pack the swim suits? Or find yourself nearly throwing things over whether hash browns are better shredded or cubed? If you have, then you can understand this week’s imbroglio about Dubai getting a sweetheart deal to run a bunch of U.S. ports. You can also understand last week’s fevered treatment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting mishap.

It’s called “displacement.” You’re already angry or disappointed or sad or afraid, but you choose to not express it directly, hoping the feeling will go away. It does go away, but it doesn’t disappear. It pops up somewhere nearby, triggered by a word or a circumstance that feels oddly similar. That level of abstraction somehow makes it feel safer to express the “displaced” emotion than it felt in the original, direct circumstance.

Reporters and the White House have been intimate partners now for five years, and the frustrations have simmered long enough. Mention “Arab” and “ports” in the same sentence and all those frustrations bubble over that this White House has insisted it’s “keeping us safe,” while experts continue to drone that our ports are porous and vulnerable. Repeated questions about this matter have been ignored, so here it comes back, but with a vengeance.

Dick Cheney likes his privacy and he likes his buddies and he thinks anyone who doesn’t know how to hunt is a pantywaist. So he makes a mistake as a hunter, then doesn’t tell anyone for a while, then waffles on whether his victim was a good friend. The whole thing erupts into a “scandal,” with is press corp lingo for ruining the vacation.

But here’s the twist I don’t think anyone else has identified. Red-state voters don’t believe in “displacement.” Or transference, or compensation, or sublimation. They don’t believe in Oedipal complexes or Freudian slips. All this psychobabble is a branch of occult to the ever-pragmatic Midwesterner, who would tell you (if anyone asked) that nobody’s ever seen an id, so how can you know you got one?

Blue-staters claim that-which-isn’t-named can exert special power over our behavior. Red-staters don’t buy it. Each side sees the other as a caricature, and the media broadcasts those extreme interpretations because they are the most interesting, if not the most accurate. Then we take the media’s word for who we are: a nation of thumbsuckers and knuckleheads.

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