So, STA tipped me off to this article about Michael Steele and the recent troubles that he is having. I am including it here as an example of how getting in trouble and staying out of trouble get used and understood within the mainstream media. [Note: Thank you Jon Stewart for pointing out how much Steele looks like the guy with the fly in his soup!]
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, working the room at a luncheon gathering of party officials yesterday, had the same parting words for each man he met: “Stay out of trouble.” Or, if speaking to a couple, he would tell the woman: “Keep him out of trouble.”
After this opening, Dana Milbank from The Washington Post describes the kind of trouble that Steele has gotten into in the last couple months: his run-ins with Rush Limbaugh, his failed attempts at appealing to the “hip hop generation,” his inability to generate enthusiasm for the Republican Party, and the misguided hope he places in the “tea bag” as the future of the party. Milbank concludes by admonishing Steele to “stay out of trouble.”
For the author of this article, trouble is being used as something that is bad, something that leads to crisis and has the potential to cause serious damage. Milbank understands Steele to be in some serious trouble: his job and the success of the party are in serious danger because of his bad/misguided/ineffective actions.
But, how is Steele using the term? Does he mean it as a joke? A playful and fatherly greeting to his party members? A warning and admonishment? And, when he tells the men (this, perhaps is too obvious, but what about the women? Does he imagine that they are incapable of making serious trouble or does he want them to make trouble?) to stay out of trouble, what exactly is he suggesting that they do? Stop raising controversy? Stop challenging the Democratic party or start challenging them more? Stop trying to change the course of the Republican party?
What if instead of telling them to stay out of trouble he had said, make trouble? Go out and shake up the party in ways that help to invigorate it and make it relevant. Ask the tough questions about where they went wrong and how to get them back on track. And don’t stand for anything less than an agenda that speaks to (and for) a wide range of people and their concerns. Would this be an example of virtuous troublemaking?