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Thomas de Zengotita Headshot

Why Little George and his Manly Men Like to Refer to the "Bad Guys" as "Folks"

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It was always bizarre. Now it's downright pathetic. And the more things spin out of their control, the more pathetic it gets--as in the latest cringe-making press conference by Little George ("extremist group of folks") so dramatically illustrated. It gets more and more pathetic because the whole point of expressions like "bad guys" and "folks" has been to convey a serene self-assurance. You could always see in their faces, as they said those words, the reassurance they drew from them, and from the attitudes that went with them.

Now you can see that they are using them to try to make themselves feel as confident as they once actually did--though, in fact, the whole thing is slipping away and they are getting desperate. The mannerisms are out of synch, the flat-handed, on-the-level decision gesture comes a beat to late and lasts a beat too long. That faux-modest, down-casting eye, supplemented by that affirming little nod--it is beginning to look like hiding. They've taken to imitating themselves. They don't know what else to do as reality overwhelms the dream world they built out of bromides.

"Folks," like "bad guys," is above all a homey locution. It says that all you really need to know in this world is what you grow up knowing in the heartland. No need for fancy book-learning from pointy-headed intellectuals--those so-called "experts" on other so-called "cultures." Because, when you get right down to it, folks are pretty much the same everywhere; there's the good ones, who get up every day and try to raise their families, and the bad ones--the bad guys, who get up every day, and look for ways to do evil.

"Folks" says to the American people: don't bother with details, everything is as obvious as I say it is. And "bad guys" says to the American people: don't worry, we will do what it takes. We are the good guys--and the tough guys. Go back to sleep.

Well--it took a while, an inexcusably long while--but a lot of those American folks seem finally to be waking up. And Little George and his Manly Men posture on.