George Will: #BringBackOurGirls Hashtag Campaign is a Powerless ‘Exercise in Self-Esteem’

FILED TO: Headline Articles

I always chuckle a little when I hear people tell me that George Will is one of the smart, reasonable conservatives. While, yes, there are indeed many smart, reasonable conservatives, George Will isn’t one of them. He can occasionally say something that sounds promising, but then follows it up with insufferable nincompoopery about the climate crisis or by suggesting that President Obama only won in 2012 because whites didn’t want to fire the black guy. Yes, he really said that.

And now that he’s a panelist on Fox News Sunday his irascible, post-bow-tie dickbaggery has been cranked up to 11. It’s fertile ground for him to not only tag-team with Brit Hume for the role of the tight-assed High School principal on the show, but now he’s free to let fly with his inner crank without being seriously challenged by anyone else, unlike when he was a panelist on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. No need to soften his crapola with accessible and folksy baseball yarns, Will’s new audience demands fire-eating and fire-eating only. Couple that with the fact that I don’t think Will gives a flying shit about anything any more. He’s not even dying his actual hair to match that hairpiece he likely purchased while on a drunken toupée binge with Sam Donaldson back in 1978 and has been flogging it ever since.

So when he callously insulted the #BringOurGirlsBack hashtag campaign on Sunday, it came as no surprise whatsoever. This is what George Will does now.

In case you missed it, the conversation on Fox News Sunday turned to the crisis in Africa in which 270 Nigerian girls were kidnapped back on April 15 and are likely being sold into slavery by Boko Haram terrorists. Moderator Chris Wallace introduced several Twitter photos, including one of First Lady Michelle Obama, holding up hand-written signs with the #BringOurGirlsBack hashtag.

In response, George Will expressionlessly mocked:

“It’s an exercise in self-esteem. I do not know how adults stand there, facing a camera and say, ‘Bring back our girls. Are these barbarians in the wilds of Nigeria supposed to check their Twitter accounts and say, ‘Oh, Michelle Obama’s very cross with us, we better change our behavior?’ Power is the ability to achieve intended effects. This is not intended to have any effect on the real world. It’s a little bit like environmentalism has become. The incandescent lightbulb becomes the enemy. It has NO effect whatever on the planet, but it makes people feel good about themselves.”

Let’s try to unpack this arrogant, thoughtless horseshit.

While there are, indeed, hashtivist campaigns that are entirely about inflating the ego and notoriety of the Twitter user who launches the effort, this is clearly not one of those instances. Originally tweeted by Nigerian attorney Ibrahim Abdullahi, #BringBackOurGirls has not only raised awareness about the plight of the kidnapped girls around the world, but it’s also spurred action from the U.S. government, China, France and the U.K.

Contrary to what Will stupidly thinks, the campaign isn’t directed at Boko Haram — the “barbarians.” It’s always been about coaxing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian government to take action against the terrorist kidnappers. Since the hashtag has gone viral, including support from the First Lady, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Pope Francis, Jonathan has been pressured into action when, indeed, for the first two weeks the girls were missing, Jonathan refused to even acknowledge the kidnappings.

By the way, George Will seriously had the sack to indirectly accuse the Pope of engaging in a self-esteem exercise? Really? This from a guy whose entire career is about gluing on his hair, applying copious makeup to his emotionless face and delivering pithy soundbites on Sunday morning television in order to spin current events for a handsome paycheck and a big weekly ego-trip.

To repeat, he said, “Power is the ability to achieve intended effects. This is not intended to have any effect on the real world.” Then what the hell do you call his blinkered nuggets of cranky, pompous verbal masturbation every Sunday? What “intended effects” has he achieved? Read a goddamn newspaper, George. This campaign is absolutely on its way to accomplishing exactly what it intended — maybe more. It’s not easy to predict the actions of radical jihadists, but #BringBackOurGirls has successfully rallied the attention of the free world, and animated its most powerful governments to devise strategies to rescue the girls. This isn’t power?

Moreover, it’s difficult to grasp criticism of any effort whatsoever to rescue those girls, no matter how insignificant. I’m looking at you, too, Glenn Greenwald. If George Will or Rush Limbaugh think the hashtag campaign is all that’s being done, they’re as stupid as they are soulless.

As for that last part about incandescent light bulbs, he’s nuts. CFLs and LEDs use up to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Less energy usage means a reduction in fossil fuel consumption. A reduction in fossil fuel consumption means lower CO2 emissions. Lower CO2 emissions means the acceleration of climate change is slowed down. And this won’t have any impact on the planet? Huh? Again, I dare anyone to tell me that George Will is one of the smart ones. I fail to see any evidence of this elusive genius.


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  • Thinkabkut

    Weeks later and we have even more girls taken. Looks like George Will called this one right. #ourgirls didn’t make a bit of difference.

  • bptr

    And BTW, he doesn’t know SHIT about baseball.

  • bptr

    Fox New decided that it needs a “Smart Guy” and knows that they can corrupt anyone with enough money (hence Chris Wallace). Too bad that George is a complete MORON FULL OF SHIT.

    He really doesn’t understand “Bring Back Our Girls”??? Its called RALLYING!! It is not designed for the terrorists – it is meant to bring the world together to be against these terrorist assholes. DUH

    He thinks that getting rid of light bulbs that waste over 90% of their power consumption on heat wont do any good? WOW!! What a complete fucking IDIOT

    I guess he fits right in on Fox “News” with all the other clowns and cult morons watching.

    The one thing they all have in common is the basic philosophy of BEING AS MUCH OF A SELFISH PRICK AS POSSIBLE.

  • Tort Master

    He knows a few big words, used to wear a bow tie, and he turns his whole body when he is talking to somebody on the other side of him, and that’s enough for King of Fox status, even though Will’s favored policies are stupid, silly, proven ineffective on multiple occasions and/or lethal.

    My theory–and it’s just a pet theory–is that the Conservatives who are not out-and-out racists are still driven to daily distraction by the utter competence of President Obama, which trait, unfortunately for them, he shares with his wife. Here again, Fox News, through George Will, is mocking the Obamas, while they go about their business getting things done.

    What George Will doesn’t say, but which stands as the logical conclusion to his rhetoric, is that shaming people who are concerned about the young women, and who put their concern on facebook or twitter or in letters to their representatives, is something that will “ha[ve an] effect whatever on the planet, [and] it makes people feel good about themselves.”

  • mampdx

    I was so hoping that, with his departure from “This Week…,” Will would be making an exit from the teevee screen. Alas, no such luck. Most honest column I’ve yet read on this pretentious asshat. What have George Will’s decades of smug, elitist bloviating _ever_ done to make the world even the tiniest smidgeon better?

  • 624LC .

    That bow tied bitch was probably salivating at bush’s “mission accomplished” banner at the time.

  • j hentai
  • 1933john

    Conservatism is an anomaly.

  • emnyc

    I’d like the media to ask George Will and Brit Hume why they never mocked or had any issues with the Twitter hash tag “BenghaziCoverUp”

  • ffakr

    The problem with your analysis of the bulb comment is that you assume a person like George Will means Earth when he says “the planet”.

    He’s not talking about the planet silly. He’s above such simplistic rhetoric. George means the economies of the planet when he says “the planet”. It’s all about money, always.

    Of course, he’s still an idiot.
    I think it’s safe to assume there are more light bulbs in operation than there are people in the US. There are probably at least 3x as many burning in my house as there are residents for the 1/3rd of the day when we’re home and awake. I’ve got two to three in my main room fixtures and the kitchen alone has eight or nine cans.
    US Population is at 314M. Lets say there are 1B worth of 24×7 bulbs running.

    My LED bulbs run about 1/5th to 1/6th of comparable incandescents [They’d be more efficient with a central DC converter.. I’d like to rewire my house for AD and low-voltage DC some day]
    Assume average per bulb consumption at 60W for incandescent.. 10W for LED.

    Moving 1 billion bulbs from Incandescent to LED would conserve (50W x 1B)/1M = 50,000 MegaWatt. Assume a reasonable number like $0.09 per kWh.
    That would be a nation-wide savings of $4.5 Million / hour.
    That’s $39.4B/year.

    That doesn’t include savings on the supply side. The smallest Nuclear Power Plant is the US is Ft. Calhoun, with a capacity of 502MW. For the George Wills out there, that’s just over 1/100 of my estimate on power savings in LED.

    Being built in 1966.. it’s hard to put a figure on what it’d cost to build another Ft. Calhoun. It did, however, cost $180M to recommission it after it flooded in 2011.

    We haven’t built Nuclear plants in the US for a long time, but the Olkiluoto 3 plant Finland will cost around $10B, if it ever gets completed.. projected to generate 1700MW.. a pittance compared to what we could save with LED bulbs.

    So, even in Conservative [Will] World, moving from incandescents to LEDs saves power-consumers tens of Billions a year in direct cost and it will obviate the need for tens of billions of dollars of power generation infrastructure.
    Tens, perhaps hundreds of Billions of dollars per year of savings in the US alone doesn’t affect the economy in Conservative pundit/politician eyes though because that’s money taken out of large power-broker coffers. Yes.. pun intended. ;-)

  • muselet

    I’m with Charlie Pierce:

    … George Will continues to need to be slapped repeatedly in the face with a fish



    • Victor_the_Crab

      #SlapGeorgeWillInThe Face

      • muselet

        If I were on Twitter, I’d enthusiastically support that hashtag campaign.


  • ruth crocker

    the larger point the first lady is making is that girls have the right to an education, aspirations, and should not be treated as chattel. Many countries need to hear this message from the highest levels of our government.

  • joseph2004

    The problem is, Obama has basically admitted he’s not in the mood to do anything or take too great a stand to effect the release of the captive girls. No skin in the game, so to speak. He’s sending some advisors, but beyond that he doesn’t want to offend anyone with the wrong action, whatever that may be.

    #BringBackOurGirls amounts to, what, a bumper sticker?

    I prefer Mark Steyn’s dismissal of the “feel good” campaign embodied by #BringBackOurGirls:

    • don

      Thanks for the link. A good read.

      • 624LC .

        Made for good lip reading for you, did it?

        • don

          Making fun of deaf people? Charming ;).

          • 624LC .

            No, actually thinking that is the way you read, forming the words really slowly. I should have said mouth reading So sorry…

          • don

            Keep digging ;).

          • 624LC .

            :) :):):):);););). It is sad that You really think you have something. Look at you- chairman of the board of idiots …controlling stock in idiots, inc. The only hole I am digging is the one you can jump into any time. I will fill it back up for you Bless your heart and try to do something more productive this evening than write lame rejoinders. Bet you can’t. :):):):);););):):):)

    • D_C_Wilson

      Yeah, I can’t imagine why Obama isn’t sending in Seal Team 6 given that what little help he’s already done is being labeled a distraction from Benghazi. But your comment begs the question, what more should he be doing?

      • joseph2004

        That’s a decent question. For my part, I think if the US had a less ambivalent approach to groups that are easily categorized as “evil,” for lack of a better word, more might have been done sooner.

        • 624LC .

          Wow. What a forceful response. You didn’t answer the question as what is to be done. You also slimed over the fact that the Nigerian government did nor ask or want outside help at first. Of course this does require more thought than you are capable of. So your response should always be ” I don’t know. I like seeing my asinine posts online”.

          • joseph2004

            The correlative define was goosed, but you’re up to the weed, viva la Televisa then went with smelling of flowers defaulted OMG. But I get it, NASA wouldn’t have worked but yesterday For my part, the seas of change did not mutate, but sung whispered of 42 knocks on the door, but no. Lie up to be, but for, but five, to the ends of whales beached loudly ker-SPLASH, it was colored by Windex.

          • 624LC .

            See that is the joseph2004 we all thought was in there. Now that makes sense from you. Sarah Palin should hire you.

          • joseph2004

            Read it again…. real carefully. Take your time.

          • 624LC .

            Not interested. If you are trying to be witty, I don’t see it and I don’t care. But if you can get back to answering the question as to what should done about this situation, I am sure it will be appreciated. Take your time.

          • nathkatun7

            Total gibberish!

    • Candace Castle

      I read this report yesterday. It appears the US marines have located them in the forest:

    • nathkatun7

      You are a liar!

  • KanaW

    blinkered nuggets of cranky, pompous verbal masturbation

    Bob, that description really ought to win the Internet for today. Sublime.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Thing is, it aptly describes everything that has ever come out of George Will’s cake hole.

  • Jason E

    If these girls were vessels for crude oil, the right would certainly give a shit. These people look down on soft power because it’s an equalizer. Average people generating interest and advocates for their cause.

    • HilaryB

      Or if they were blonde, blue-eyed white children.

      • Jason E

        True! But that would be a extra rare in Nigeria. I wonder if it’s like that everywhere? If some cultural divide always separates us.

  • TrollBaby

    As always Bob calling bs for what it is. Keep up the good work!

  • condew

    What will become of our political discourse when all the good hashtags are taken?

  • D_C_Wilson

    Slightly OT, but Allen West apparently has won the fruit basket for being the first to claim that Boko Haram is a distraction from Benghazi.

    • muselet

      Predictable, really.


      • nathkatun7

        Yep! I am not surprised!

  • aceshigh

    Awesome column, Bob. You nailed it perfectly.

    The saddest thing about this is that right-wingers seem almost GLEEFUL that these girls have been sold into slavery, just to stick it to “dem libruls”.

    How sick with hatred and anger do you have to be to find teenage sex slavery a jokey cudgel with which to beat the left with? It’s apparent don’t give a flying fuck about those girls…they just want to mock people on the left who are trying to do something about it.

    Sick, twisted, and sad.

  • DubsCorleone

    I see Will made the most out his chance to drive the dumbassmobile…

    He’s a damn fool if I ever saw one

  • Badgerite

    Very good post. Hit the nail (the nail being George Will) right on the head.

  • don

    I would agree that Will’s fifteen minutes ended a long time ago. What is even more scary is to consider how numb the political dialogue and commentary were in 1988 considering it was Will and Donaldson hashing it out.

    I think the jury is still out on whether you can crowd source/crowd fund and create a movement that produces meaningful results in a situation like this. It seems to combine celebrity worship with writing a letter to your Congressman or Santa Claus. But, if an emergent movement happens that moves governments, corporations, and religious fanatics in the frontier to have a conscience that would be a true revolution. I am hopeful.

    • BumpIt McCarthy

      Try reading some Nigerian sites to see what effect the hashtag campaign has had.

      • don

        Suggested links?

        • CL Nicholson

          Here’s one, or you can just try using ‘The Google’ like a normal person instead of being a contrarian hipster jackass.

          • don

            Wow … using “the Google” ? ;) Hipster?contrarian maybe. Jackass is always possibly accurate. But hipster? Just interested in Ms Mcarthy flushing out her point.

          • 624LC .

            He thinks joseph2004 is a wit. Don’t tax him with the google. :-)

  • trgahan

    Is it even worth pointing out that if a Republican first lady
    has joined this campaign Mr. Will would be hailing it as a bold use of new technology and the first lady should be the immediate front runner for the Nobel Peace Prize?

    Why else, other than cynically grubbing for points with the frothy base, would you spend your Sunday sitting in a nice safe A/C controlled TV studio crapping all over about efforts to help 270 school girls?

    • Kerry Reid

      Would Will have sneered about Laura Bush speaking out against the Taliban? For that matter, I’d love to see footage of the many times he dismissed the Support the Troops magnets as empty feel-good gestures. Or hell, let’s talk about prayer and the Pledge of the Allegiance and displaying the Ten Commandments as sops that accomplish absolutely nothing while we’re at it.

      He’s a dick. Also, I know someone who used to live in his neighborhood and he apparently never picked up after his dogs. So there’s that.

      • stacib23

        And lapel pins – please don’t forget how important those are for broadcasting American patriotism. /snark

    • nathkatun7

      Well said!

    • nevilleross

      Why else would you? If you’re a (possible) closeted racist asshole like George Will, you do this because it comes naturally.

  • judi


  • Neddy Merrill

    Will is a dick but I got to say that Hume is the bigger dick, at least judging from the
    video above. Check out his shit-eating-grin at about the 19 second mark. Hume is a smug oozing canker.

  • BumpIt McCarthy

    Naturally Will spoke without knowing, or researching, anything about Nigeria, because what have Nigerians got to do with his finely crafted intellectual word jumbles? They’re only organising protests against the Government’s inaction, and demonstrating, through the dissemination of pictures of Nigerians from all walks of life holding placards, that the girls are important to more than just their families.

    The Nigerian Police Force tried to shut down an outdoor meeting in the capital yesterday, and the news was tweeted under the BBOG hashtag. It would probably be helpful to let President Jonathan know that the world is watching.

    Just because Suey Park sits on her ass in Mommy’s house misbehaving on Twitter doesn’t mean real change isn’t possible using hashtags. Park really abused her privilege and gave crustaceans like Will some muddied swampwater to inhabit.

  • NintendoWii10

    When has George Won’t said ANYTHING of relevance recently?

    • Razor

      Or ever?


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