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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nattering Nabob of Negativism?

One of my former students, anonymously in comments, wrote the following about my continued blogging about Iraq:
As someone who knows you, I personally, I hate to see all this negativity in your blogs... hasn't it gone on long enough? Where's your love of baseball? Is there anything else positive going on worth blogging about? I would find it hard to sign up to take classes under you or anyone else that had such a negative fixation on something.

Keep that statement in mind and consider this: :
In a speech in San Diego in 1970, then Vice President Spiro Agnew used the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism" to describe supposed intellectuals who attacked American policy. "Natter" is defined as "to nag, to find fault peevishly," and a "nabob" is "a native provincial deputy or governor of the old Mogul empire in India; a native district ruler in India" or "European who has become rich in India" or "a very rich man" (Websters New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, Deluxe Second Edition). Agnew's speech writers undoubtedly put the terms together because of their alliterative value, but the phrase does paint an interesting although unpleasant word picture of a self-important person nagging and criticizing everyone else.
The phrase, "nattering nabobs of negativity," was apparently coined by then-Agnew speechwriter William Safire.

Then again, the continued criticism did bring down both Agnew and Richard Nixon.


You can read my reply in comments, but I should note that this statement has been on my blog since the day it began in September 2003:
I'm interested in international relations, American foreign policy, globalization, US presidential elections, public debate...and major league baseball. Not necessarily in that order.
My critique of the war in Iraq covers multiple areas -- the most important issue in American foreign policy, presidential politics, and public debate.

In fact, I consider the Iraq war among the largest mistakes in American foreign policy in at least the past 30 years. Should I ignore it and move on?

It's not going to happen.

Note: In April, I did accurately predict the 2005 NL MVP, as well as the 2004 AL MVP. Don't ask about most of my other baseball predictions.

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