— On Assholes

Boehner, Sucker

Where the “sucker” is defined as one who fails to stand up to an asshole, on behalf of cooperative people (or him or herself), when this appropriate and necessary.  The sucker is thus complicit in the asshole’s assholery, even if not necessarily an asshole him or herself.

It can be hard to tell when someone is a sucker so defined, because it can be hard to tell when standing up to an asshole is appropriate and necessary.  Much of the time, we should just blow of an asshole and let the frustrations go, and it can be a tough call when it would be productive and right to take on the fight.  Assholes succeed by exploiting this zone of uncertainty.  Because cooperative people disagree about when and when not to resist the asshole, they often turn on one another, making the assholes work easier for him.

Alas, in Boehner’s case, the case seems relatively clear cut.  With global financial catastrophe in the cards, with stakes that don’t get too much higher, it is fair to say that he’s well beyond the zone of uncertainty.  Taking a stand for the public good is now necessary (and possible, since Boehner merely has to allow a vote on the House floor, which will settle the issue with a significant bi-partisan majority).  So Boehner probably isn’t an asshole.  But in this case, being a sucker may be as bad or worse.