Obama Charges Cheney with “playing the dick card”

March 27, 2015

Latest Thinking, Political Satire, Politics, Racism

Did you hear that Obama finally responded to Dick Cheney’s accusation in a Playboy interview that the President had played the race card in his discussions of the conflict in Ferguson, MO? Cheney’s accusation in Playboy has been picked up widely in the press. [1]  After ignoring the Cheney charge for several weeks, the President finally responded by charging Cheney appropriately of “playing the dick card.”

Good for Obama for creating a new idiom that is a lot like the idiomatic “playing the race card.” Playing the race card, of course, is a pejorative idiom that suggests that the player, who is usually a politician, inappropriately invoked the issue of race or racism in a situation where it was not warranted. [2] The accusation typically implies that the politician was doing so for selfish reasons. When Cheney accused Obama of playing the race card, he was saying that Obama was understanding the Ferguson situation in terms of racism when, according to Cheney, the Ferguson incident was not about racial relations in this country. [3] Give me a break.

The President Responds

Clearly, Cheney is so wrong that he is being a dick. And that is why Obama just this week finally broke his silence and accused Cheney of “playing the dick card.” Since playing the dick card is a new idiom, similar to the idiom “playing the race card,” it is worth unpacking its meaning a bit since we can expect to see its usage increase in political discourse now that the President has coined the expression.

Like playing the race card, “playing the dick card” also alludes to game of cards like poker or rummy and evokes the idea of a player using a wild card or a trump card in the course of play. A wild card or trump card comes out of the blue, can substitute for or have more power than other cards, and disrupts the otherwise normal flow or usage of cards, as for example when a deuce or one-eyed Jack becomes a trump card in poker.

Playing the dick card means that a person has been a “dick” or “jerk,” and said something so stupid or so offensive it doesn’t warrant an answer. The only appropriate answer the comment warrants is “you played the dick card.” By charging the person with playing the dick card, you make clear to them that you don’t take their comment as part of serious, rational discourse. It is instead simply stupid rhetoric that is not worthy of rational engagement.

Politicians Say Stupid Things All the Time

There are plenty of instances of politicians saying stupid or outrageous things just to provoke a reaction and whip up emotions. It is high time we had a way to name their rhetoric. Thank you President Obama for coining the new idiom. It is appropriate that this new idiom is named after Dick Cheney, the former 46th Vice President of the United States. Dick Cheney’s comments are so often so outrageous and so offensive that it is appropriate that the new idiom be named for him.

Hopefully, we’ll see a Wikipedia article soon on the new idiom “Playing the dick card, ” just as we have one for playing the race card. And for all posterity America can remember that the idiom was created when President Obama called Dick Cheney to the carpet for his stupid claim that the incident in Ferguson did not involve an issue of race.


[1] For definitions of “playing the race card,” see Wikipedia and Merriam Webster

[2] A few of the news media articles on Cheney’s claim that Obama and Holder were playing the race card: CNN: Cheney tells Playboy: Holder, Obama ‘playing the race card’ ; Time: Dick Cheney: Obama Is ‘Playing the Race Card’; The Hill: Cheney: Obama and Holder are ‘playing the race card’ against critics;Bloomberg: Cheney tells Playboy: Holder, Obama ‘playing the race card’

[3] As Cheney put it, “I think that would be wrong, and it bothers me that that kind of an incident has generated that kind of response. I don’t think it is about race. I think it is about an individual who conducted himself in a manner that was almost guaranteed to provoke an officer trying to do his duty.”











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