Saturday, December 4, 2010

President Aspie: Or, I'm sick of armchair diagnoses

So, Crooks & Liars, a known American liberal blog, posted this podcast recorded by two people known as "The Professional Left", titled, "Hey Obama, Get Your Head Out Of Your Asperger's".
My first and most immediate reaction, which has been my de facto reaction to stimuli as of late, was as follows, "What the everflowing milk of human kindness?!?!"
See, I was confused and irritated, expecting I'd run across a typical "disability as a metaphor" joke that's so common to both liberal and conservative media, but with the liberals I get more annoyed because I expect more from them.
So I listened to the podcast, and shut it off in disgust after the part about Asperger Syndrome was finished. There was no transcript available(If anyone wants to brave their way through the podcast and make one, be my guest, I'll do a proper one later Edit: Lindsay of Autist's Corner did a terrific analysis and transcript here:, but the dialogue went along the lines of: (highly paraphrased here)
Woman: So I have this theory.... (chatter about anticipating what this amazing new revelation could be)
Man: I'm girding my loins [in anticipation]!
Woman: I think our president has high functioning Asperger Syndrome! It's becoming more obvious now the way he reacts to everything, he's so much like Spock, the Star Trek character, you know? And he doesn't display emotions and he is logical and rational, and so many other traits. And he focuses on the little details instead of the big picture!
Man: Well, that could be it, I mean we understand these traits about Aspergers and that end of the spectrum as being....
[Continue intersliced with boring rabble about Wikileaks, constitutional law, imperial presidency, and not listening to the American people with obnoxious laughter and ham-fisted jokes about nerdiness based on the Spock reference]

I was frozen. There's not much more I can focus on here that hasn't been covered before. Typical Bingo fodder. Comparisons to Spock? Check. Devoid of Emotion Card? Check. Stereotyping all autistics as being uniformly like this? Double check.
But what irked me the most about this is that when the American people were at an all time euphoria about Obama, he was compared to Spock, and Superman, and other idols of nerd culture, but the "A" word never came up. Now, progressives are finding a few walloping things wrong with his decisionmaking and snubbing of progressives, and now it's so convenient to label him with autism or some other type of "disorder" or invisible disability. Disability need not apply to people when they're doing what you think is right, but the moment you find fault with them, disabilities begin to be thrown about, and always the negative stereotypical traits are thrown in too. Never would it be suggested (At least while he is alive, see Einstein and Newton) that Obama has Asperger Syndrome for an exceptional trait which makes him a fine leader. Always focus on what makes them different, not good. Same for Narcissistic Personality, or Psychopathic Personality, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or now, Asperger Syndrome. Yay. Or just happily labelling anyone who disagrees with you as part of the Loonie Left, or a Wingnut, or a Right Wing Nutjob, having "Nazi Tourettes", having some type of ADD or ADHD, or a Crazy [Insert noun] or Republitard.
How delightful to know that the mentally and intellectually disabled are so disposable.
For the record, I find it highly doubtful that Obama has Asperger Syndrome or autism of any kind. The closest connection I can find between him and autism is his historic appointment of Ari Ne'eman.


  1. I'm glad you wrote about that - ugh. People can be so insensitive and disgusting. Thank you for sharing! Again, I quite adore your blog.

  2. I made a post about what assholes people can be about people with Asperger's. Would it be okay if I linked to this article? It's in my personal blog, which SHOULD be linked from my name.

    My personal blog does have some un-feminist language in it (I was having trouble playing Pokemon one day and called one of my Pokemon certain things), but there shouldn't be anything like that in the entry I'm linking from. You can read it if you want.

  3. Also, please let me know if there's anything I said in the entry that was offensive, and I'll change it.

  4. I read it, Little Rachael. Please, go ahead and link.

  5. Boo!

    I expect more from liberals, too --- and sadly, this isn't the first time in recent memory that a liberal commentator has used autism as an insult.

    Also, good catch on "Asperger's" only coming up when Obama's cool rationalism is supposed to be a *BAD* thing.

  6. Okay, now I listened to the podcast (which I quite liked, apart from that obnoxious metaphor!) and have a post up about it, with a lengthier transcript.

  7. That's a terrific post, Lindsay. I loved your analysis and thank you ten million times over for the transcript. I have to admire your ability to get through that part about AS without needing to stop in disgust.