First, a short memo.
To: The Idiots Who Send Me Hate Mail
Re: Your Last Message
For the love of the God in whom your message claims you believe, if you want to speculate about the dates and times of the deaths of Supreme Court justices, don’t put your actual return address on the letter.
However, I do have to thank you for scrawling your communiqué onto an actual hard copy of my column. I was wondering how the photo turned out.
Bullies don’t bully to make sure you act a certain way. They don’t bully to make you wear different clothes or get a new haircut or even, really, to get your toys or your lunch money. They don’t bully to improve you. They’re not altruistic like that.
Bullies bully because that’s what bullies do. It’s not about you.
You’re incidental. If it wasn’t you, it would be some other kid, some other political party, that they’d pick on. The worst mistake you can make with a bully is to try to make him happy, not just because it’s demeaning to you, but because it’s beside the point.
That’s what Democrats should have learned sometime in the past seven years. Republicans bullied war heroes John Kerry, Tammy Duckworth and Max Cleland, they made conservative representative John Murtha out to be some kind of screaming pinko, they characterized millions of anti-war Americans as the “leftist fringe” prior to the war. Democrats should have learned, from watching it happen to their candidates over and over and over again, that it’s not about what they do or say.
It’s about power — and ridicule — and needing to hear people laugh at someone else’s expense.
It was the worst mistake Democrats could have made, to assume Republicans were bullying them in order to get them to craft a certain bill or vote a certain way. You can’t make a bully happy, no matter how many platitudes you mouth or how many supporters and constituents you betray. No matter how much you change to please a bully, the bully won’t be pleased. The bully will still be a bully, because that’s what the bully is.