Friday, August 29, 2008

Larry Elder: "Stalwart" Sage or "Staunch" Whiner?

Larry Elder is one of Los Angeles's most stalwart conservative radio talk show hosts. You'd think such a clear and laudatory label would please the man. After all, he's not one to back away from his core conservative values and principles when engaging in an argument with a liberal who disagrees with him. As such, the terms stalwart and staunch -by their very definitions- are fitting tributes to his steadfast and principled stance on conservative issues. However, on his program this evening, Larry decided that the mainstream media (liberally biased beyond the pale in his estimation) was using these very same terms to discredit the announced Republican VP nominee, Sarah Palin. He argued vehemently that these media outlets described her as a "stalwart conservative" as a means to discredit her.

Mr. Elder went on to lambast the NY Times and LA Times in a broader way for their use of these two words when speaking of conservatives only. He said that the incidences of Democrats being referred to with these two "negative" adjectives (which I and the American Heritage Dictionary agree are not negative terms) were effectively non-existent. "You never hear them use that term to define a liberal," he remarked. Hmmmm, I didn't buy this at all.

So, when I got home I actually typed into the NY Times search engine these words: stalwart liberal. If the "sage" was indeed correct then my results should have been nil. The sage was...

... not right. There were over two pages worth of article results (all from the last 5 to 10 years) showing example after example of NY Times reporters' calling Democratic politicians "stalwart liberals" or vise-versa. In fact, no less than Joe Biden, the VP candidate himself, was referred to in an article on 8/23/08 in the NY Times as a "stalwart" of the senate. What a putdown, eh? Hardly. Staunch was no different. In fact, the term "staunch liberal" had an even deeper set of results, well over five pages and still going when I stopped counting. But all this doesn't even matter because the words are not derogatory by their very definition. And that's the point beyond all points here: The terms staunch and stalwart are not insults. Far from it.

The American Heritage dictionary defines stalwart like this: ADJECTIVE: 1. Having or marked by imposing physical strength. 2. Firm and resolute; stout.
NOUN: 1. One who is physically and morally strong. 2. One who steadfastly supports an organization or cause: party stalwarts.

Staunch is defined like this: ADJECTIVE: 1. Firm and steadfast; true. See synonyms at faithful. 2. Having a strong or substantial construction or constitution.

Larry, my friend, if these are descriptives you'd prefer not to go by, let me tell you that I know many a proud Democrat who'd gladly accept them, including me. Because I am staunch defender of liberal views, and a stalwart member of the Democratic Party. You can always start referring to yourself by the antonym, I suppose... the frail conservative.