Brownbacking – A New Political Verb

Sam Brownback, who is presently running as a Republican for President, recently wrote an article in the NY Times explaining his stance on evolution. He felt the need to do so after he raised his hand at the last debate when the moderator asked all of the candidates to indicate who didn’t believe in evolution. 1 In the Times piece, he blatantly attempts some political fence sitting, by claiming that he believes in evolution, but then doesn’t believe in it when it conflicts with his beliefs. (Confused? You’re not alone.) Clearly, he’s stooping to the level of stereotypical politicians who feel the need to pander to whatever special interest he thinks will help him win, so he obfuscates and deflects, and tries a little linguistic dodging and weaving, all in the hopes that intelligent people will think he actually believes in evolution, while his religious base will see his sly wink and a nod.

Over at Atheist Revolution, in comments to vjack’s post, Susan said

I’m not sure which is worse — the possibility that someone who affects public policy really doesn’t believe in evolution or the idea that he does, but feels compelled to deny it in order to pander to the religious right.

Then, Tommy over at Exercise in Futility piped up with:

Susan, you just made me think of a new term. Whenever a politician panders to Biblical Literalists by casting doubt on evolution and science, he can be said to be engaging in “Brownbacking.”

This is a great word to add to our political discourse, if only for this election. Republicans seem to be doing it all the time. Even Dubya. The blog world is calling Brownback on his cynical political bootlicking. See here and here and here and here. The word just slips off the tongue, so easily, with negative connotations intact, like brownbagging and brownnosing.

It needs to be disseminated throughout the internet. Use it wherever and whenever you can.

[EDIT] It looks like others are getting into the act. Here too, though the meanings differ.

1 In all fairness, I don’t like the question, “Do you believe in Evolution?”. I don’t think science is something you can believe in. How do you believe in a conglomeration of facts? A better question would be “Do you feel there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the Theory of Evolution”. But then that questions can always be begged off from, by pleading ignorance.

11 thoughts on “Brownbacking – A New Political Verb

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  2. Thanks for all of the interesting links. I was hoping Brownbacking would go the way of Santorum, but, alas.

    This editorial is a terribly slippery slope for Sam. You admit to micro, you get macro. But this is just pandering, as you note, so really he won’t have to be responsible for his comment.

    My main question is why the NYT, or any real publication, would take someone like him as an expert on faith and reason. A theologian, philosopher, scientist…fine. But hack politician? Please. I think there are wider issues at stake here, which I just posted about.

    Thanks for the post. Good stuff.

  3. Commenter John is right-on about The NYT pandering to … whom, exactly? Not their usual readers, the majority of whom, I’d guess, think Brownback’s the lying ignoramus that he is. Not some phantom arbiter of “fairness and balance,” when the essay is neither fair nor balanced. And certainly not its staff’s commitment to running “all the news that’s fit to print,” since Brownback’s essay doesn’t qualify as news and wasn’t fit to print.

    My guess? The Old Grey Lady wanted attention. The content of the essay was nonsense to many of us in the Atheosphere. I assume that it was nonsense to anti-evolutionists, too, who must have found Brownback’s gobbledygookian turns-of-phrase either outrageously patronizing or unintelligible. But, hey, guess what? We’re still talking about it, days later.

    Nice finger on the pulse there, NYT!

  4. You beat me to the punch on this one, but I’m happy you did. You did a much better job with this post than I would have done. Best of all, you give me a post to reference whenever I want to use the word “Brownbacking.”

  5. I love how Brownback says (last paragraph of the op/ed) that he thinks evolution is fine and dandy WHEN it agrees with the “truth” of creation, but when it doesn’t agree with this “truth”, it’s CLEARLY just atheist theology. It’s so ironic, it’s almost precious.

  6. Hey Inquisitor!

    I’m glad you liked “brownbacking.”

    To be honest, the term was a play on “barebacking.” I just couldn’t resist adapting a sexual reference to criticize religious based ignorance.

  7. Barebacking Republicans. Now how am I going to get that image out of my head. :D

    My intent was to memorialize the genesis of the word, in case it actually enters the language, which I hope it does.

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  11. The NYT must have been short on political cartoons that day and had to fill it with something.
    The hell of it is, if he keeps talking like that, the voters just might vote him in.

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