All the recent hubub about our political rhetoric led me to re-read a book by Peter Wood called A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now. It was published in 2006, so at the time Wood focused mainly on the angry political rhetoric of the left. He didn’t claim that political anger was solely a phenomenon of the left, but most of the examples of heated rhetoric came from left-wing sources. (This, by the way, is where I got that quote from Paul Krugman that I cited last week.)
At any rate, Wood concentrates on what he terms “new anger.” He acknowledges that there has always been heated political argumentation, but that stylistically much has changed. People worked hard to suppress anger – witness George Washington’s dedicated attempts to control his quick temper. Now anger is celebrated. It has become something of a performance art in our modern society, and we celebrate expressions of righteous anger. As someone who titles his personal blog (tongue-in-cheekly) the Cranky Conservative, I can see the merits of his argument.