Take a Free Trial
Try Charles' premium stock selection services free for 7 days.
Check it out in real time!
You will get actionable advice, trading ideas and email alerts.
8/23/2012 8:01 AM
By Charles Payne, CEO & Principal Analyst
Question of the Day
Maybe I'm being too sensitive and nothing's changed or this new state of meanness is just what the country needs. Share your thoughts.
1. Too Mean
2. Just Right
3. Too sensitive
Of course your written thoughts are fantastic as well.
Post your answer below.
The Mean Season
I got my September issue of The Atlantic, and as I'm leafing through, I come across an interesting headline in the entertainment section:
TV's Angriest Man
With his latest reality show, Chef Gordon Ramsay extends his patented froth from the kitchen to the hotel business at large.
According to the piece, the chef is considered a perfectionist by some and a tyrant by others. But I think everyone would agree he has something of a mean streak. Keeping it real is missing in this nation, make no mistake, but there is a gulf between real criticism and Ramsay. He has spawned a lot of other mean jerks, including that woman that browbeats would-be dancers while cursing out their parents. It's all about being mean these days.
How to Make Money and Scare People
In 1926, Dale Carnegie published How to Win Friends and Influence People, which took great pains to preach being nice as a path to success. Admittedly, all his points aren't easy to follow, especially if you're a boss, but the principles are solid and still work... or maybe not. It's all the rage to be mean.
The PGA golf tournament was the last of the so-called majors in this year's gold season, and a guy in a red shirt ran away from the pack to score a record victory. In the process, Rory McIlroy cemented his claim to be best golfer in the game today. Golf fans are accustomed to another guy wearing red running away with impressive victories but that guy, Tiger Woods, was grouped with a bunch of other contenders. After the match, in an effort to explain why these major tournaments continue to elude him, Tiger laid out an answer that might have sent sports psychiatrists to their own couches.
"I was too relaxed and tried to enjoy it." Say what?
Watching the match on Sunday, I noticed Tiger was more cordial, slapping high fives and giving away balls, I just figured it was part of the rehabilitation process (the cynic in me thought some PR expert may have made the suggestion). So, what exactly was Tiger getting at with that comment? He added, "and that's not how I play." It's pretty clear that Tiger isn't talking about when he plays, but about when he wins, and what he is saying is "watch out world, I'm going to toss the nice guy stuff and get mean". Look for words you first hear from your uncle in the navy, and if you're in the gallery, be prepared to duck flying clubs and stray golf balls.
Tiger has come to the conclusion that you have to be mean to win, but he's not the only person with that formula.
One nice sports story this year is the rise of Andy Murray, the British tennis star that is finally living up to his potential. The only difference between the Murray of last year and the one that won gold in the Olympics, and came close to winning Wimbledon is his coach, Ivan Lendl. Lendl came from an era of mean tennis players, and now his infamous scowl beams down on his pupil, pushing him to win despite his otherwise sunny disposition. Of course, the season of mean goes beyond sports. I've heard the hype and seen a bunch of commercials where Britney Spears has brought an element of meanness to the talent show "X Factor".
In one ad for the show, it seems even Simon Cowell—perennial contender for the Mr. Grinch award—blushes at Britney's blunt delivery of criticism.
Make no mistake, the mean trend has emerged, and it's catching on fast. It seems to be the tactic for people with fading talent, unlocked talent, and just bona-fide has-beens to get back on top. The thing is, being mean seems to be working. The latest test for this growing mean phenomenon is the larger stage of politics. On that score, the Obama administration has tossed out the Marquis de Queensbury rules of engagement. Mike Tyson once threw punches with mean intentions, but at least the majority of them were head shots and body blows. In its effort to maintain the White House, the administration is now rarely aiming above the belt.
First an ad came that somehow claims Mitt Romney gave an employee's wife cancer and didn't care when she died. Then came the "chains" comments from Joe Biden where the nice white guy tries to warn the Negros of knight riders in the form of Republicans and the Tea Party waiting to turn back the time. Like that cancer commercial, Biden's comments were premeditated meanness designed to sting, maim and win.
With the economy stuck in the mud, and with no hope of turning around between now and the election, the game plan is clear. Make loud noises while bashing things like honor and respect, and do everything with mean intentions like the old Mike Tyson. Sometimes that approach works in sports and at work and even in relationships.
But, there is no doubt that while America has a fascination with the mean approach and mean people in general, in the end we like nice people more.
Even in this, the meanest presidential election ever, we will be reminded that nice guys with real economic plans finish first.
I was impressed with yesterday's session, even as the CBO warned of a double dip recession Wall Street didn't blink. Those guys have a lot more faith in Washington than the rest of the country. By the same token, Fed minutes hint at more money printing yet that didn't spark a rally. The bias is still to the upside but the market needs a catalyst. I actually would like that catalyst to be good news rather than bad, although it's unlikely. Initially jobless claims this morning were morbid but some forecasters say their models point to better job and GDP growth. Not the kind we're capable of but better than what we've gotten. Of course, with less than 2% growth in the first half of the year an improvement isn't a herculean task.
As summer begins to wind down there will be a fair amount of anxiety because a big and definitive move is going to happen soon.
|Too many smart asses out there that think they have all the answers starting with Barack Obama. That is the common denominator of tyrants throughout history and sadly the rats follow the pied piper. Mean is the only way these evil Chicago mobsters can win.|
Lou Amelia on 8/23/2012 10:14:36 AM
|In our hyped-up, sound bite, viral video culture, it's not surprising that emotions run high while we are asked to pay attention to the latest ad hominem attack or silly, stupid gaffe. That most people react on an emotional level is not surprising, but the key to winning is keeping your head while those around you are losing theirs. The latest Todd Akin booboo is a good example. If he were a Democrat, no more note would have been taken than if he had farted in an elevator and cleared it out. But the Republicans compounded it by taking off like a flock of New York pigeons being chased by a 2-year-old. Queen Bee Ann Coulter even called the guy a "swine" on the Sean Hannity show. They did more damage to themselves than Akin did, showing their weakness by their over-reaction. Washington learned his lesson when his troops scattered after the Battle of Long Island, but he never made the same mistake again. By playing it cool, he won the war despite being far outweighed when it came to men and resources. Circle the wagons, pals, it's not going to get any better.|
Dennis Howard on 8/23/2012 10:33:59 AM
|Mean in politics is just a way to cover up their LIES. If I were on the Romney Campaign I would make sure "That is a lie" and "They are lying" were words that appeared in every speech and interview. If people believe the lies propagated by Democrats and the main stream media, that is the meanest thing of all. In fact lying to someone about somethng important in their life is probably more mean than out and out punching them.|
Fran Touchette on 8/23/2012 10:40:28 AM
But, let's not be blind and think this is something that came out of fool politicians like Obama. Obama is not the author of meanness. He is just a sly creep taking silly voters captive by preying on the meanness that has been growing for 3 or more generations. We have a society overflowing with meanness, and fomenting hatred between races, moralities, and income levels is easy when the people are so practiced in meanness.
When I was a child, the great TV shows of the day were not mean. They dealt with the difficulties of life in a way that lifted people up and taught a lesson that made life better. Now watch the TV and it makes your heart sick. Almost all humor has been replaced by insults. This is the legacy of those like Don Rickles, who was never really funny at all. Red Skelton never insulted anyone, but people could not contain themselves when watching his pure humor. Watch Dick Van Dyke reruns. They were not an endless stream of insults against people and religious values. The writers of that show did not feeel the need to put down others (and others' value) in order to feel good about themselves.
Of course we should not neglect consideration of all the lawsuits where people are "offended" and seek retribution. Most are ludicrous, and might seem to indicate that people are too sensitive. But, when you look closer, the suers are not really offended. They are just being mean; trying to put down someone else. For example, no public prayer has coerced or offended anyone for decades, nor has the presence of crosses in cemetaries where soldiers are buried. But those that hate God and truth play on the meanness in society and themseles to attack under the guise of offense. They know in their hearts that they are wrong, but think they can be lifted up by pulling those they feel are better than themselves down. But nobody was ever made better by destroying others just like no poverty was ever relieved by destroying wealth.
Bob G on 8/23/2012 11:12:03 AM
|As always an interesting and educational subject from you. I do wish you would change professions and go into politics. While it might hurt your pocketbook, the country needs people who speak the truth instead of the preponderence of charlatans who are now in or seeking office.|
The country as a whole has developed a "mean spirit". Predominantly by the liberal liars who think that your money is there money and wind up getting what they deserve--- a poor economic performance.
With regards to your sports analogies, I don't think most people of mean spirit do well for very long. They have to work with others whether in a team sport or an individual sport. The difference is in FOCUS, which can be confused with meanness, just as complacency can be confused with "Mr. nice guy".
Again, thank you for all you do for the individual and for the country.
Jon Hedges on 8/23/2012 11:23:12 AM
|be mean, be alone|
Joyce Nash on 8/23/2012 1:18:50 PM
|Angriest Man. Has to be the group holding out at 1600 Pennsaylvania. Soon, very soon, they will have to turn the keys back over and then, as usual, the Adults will have to work extra hard to clean up, fix and restore. It was the same with Johnson, Carter and Clinton. Come to power. Spend like hell. Walk away and let someone else fix.|
Mike Fortune on 8/23/2012 1:50:09 PM
I feel that the majority, 98% of the people are just right. That all changes once it turns to politics. The fringe can be terribly mean. The left seems to have the edge.
The far liberal and far right, have no desire to know their adversary, they only want to HATE and show their Meanness.
If we could introduce the left to the right, learn each others name and even shake hands?
They may indeed get to know one another, they may even like one another.
It is easy to hate someone you don't Know
98% of the people cannot hate someone they do not know, they cannot hate someone after they shake their hand and speak to each other. They can still disagree even dislike one another but not hate each other.
If this could happen, just shake hands and look each other in the eye, then we could get back to talking to each other instead of screaming at each other.
Then comes compromise and accomplishing things to move our country forward.
The internet has created a very nasty creature. Again it is easy to hate someone you don't know. A tender hand shake, a glance into someone’s eye’s will go a long way to healing and removing the MEANNESS.
Larry Lalime on 8/23/2012 3:21:31 PM
|Mean works until it doesn't.|
Rich on 8/23/2012 4:09:44 PM
|Oversensitive? No. I'd say it's an accurate assesment of everything from the current administration to pop culture media "gone wild!" News stories on everything from "bullying" to abuse of all sorts are indicative of the current, not just economic, but moral and spiritual decay of America. It's like the habituating effect of addiction: when one becomes more desensitized, one needs increasing, more intense doses (of whatever) in order to satisfy. Guess that's what we get for removing the moderating effect of "God" and "love" from the equation. The secularists are probably happy. They and their atheist friends are lovin' it!|
Linda Titcomb on 8/23/2012 4:45:37 PM
|There is a fine line between meanness and disciplined intensity. Good leaders know where that line is.|
z on 8/23/2012 6:14:59 PM
|RE your comment on Varney how you was beat up for wearing wrong sneakers. Black community needs leader like yourself, Connie Rice, Colin Powell, etc. not 'leaders' who incessently preach the 'victim' dogma. which they use keep themsleves in spotlight,,,,ale Jessie Jackson, Al (Tawana Brawley) Sharpton, etc|
bob on 8/23/2012 8:29:25 PM
|I believe it's a VERY thin line between 'mean' and knowing success is within one's/ ones pupil's grasp.|
People are far too thin-skinned nowadays which makes way for unwarranted empathy.
Chef Ramsay has I believe 12 Michelin Stars! He didn't get to that ridiculous level of excellence by being, 'nice'.
The same can be said of Lindl's playing AND post-career/ coaching.
I learned at an early age, being the youngest of 4 and watching my 3 older siblings win and alas lose in sporting events, spelling bees and other academia events there is NO such thing as '2nd Place'. There isn't.
The VERY same people who criticize and feign outrage of the Ramsay's, Howard Stern's of the world are the one's who tune in MORE SO than those who support the aforementioned!
For the sanctimonious types are nothing but hypocritical, rubber-necking, living their unrealized, herd-like, squandered potential-improving life.
Whereas the above types feel better about themselves when bashing others to replace their very own sickening shortcomings.
12 Michelin Stars. Oy!
Paul Bongiorno on 8/23/2012 10:09:33 PM
|Our country lacks common courtesy (we used to have it, but I can only remember it in the 1950's). Meaness and the trash that comes from politicians mouths fuel the fire.|
Marilyn on 8/24/2012 8:27:33 AM
Add a Comment!