"The human eye can detect fakeness really well," movie critic Mike Stoklasa said in 2010. Though his observation coined a word and had nothing to do with politics, it can be applied easily to U.S. lawmakers.
The human eye detects inauthenticity really well.
It's not too difficult, for example, to spot faux religiosity from candidates as they attempt to woo religious voters. It's extremely easy to spot when a candidate is basically clueless about U.S. sports.
It's similarly easy to detect phony swagger, such as the kind we're seeing now from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
The New York senator delivered an address Friday at the Personal Democracy Forum at New York University. Determined to appear tough in the age of President Trump, she peppered her speech with several naughty words.
"Has [Trump] kept any of these promises? No. Fuck no," she said to cheers. She added later that Democrats "should go the fuck home" if they're not interested in helping people.
How daring, How edgy. (Never mind that she's now recycling lines from April!)
Sen. Gillibrand also said in reference to Trump's recent "covfefe" typo, "I think it was ‘coverage' and he was bitching about the media and he just forgot to finish."
The tough-guy routine from the 50-year-old mother of two is so absurd, and so obviously so, that it inspires the viewer with "fremdschämen," the highly useful German word for "feeling shame on the behalf of others."
The act is so contrived that it makes her appear less a rough-and-tumble lawmaker who's just the right temperament to take on Trump and more a mom who had too much chardonnay at a family function and is now having it out with her least favorite in-law.
Unfortunately, she's not alone in this bizarre and lazy attempt to appear strong.
The DNC's newly minted chief, Tom Perez, said in April that Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., don't "give a shit" about Americans.
Rather than back away from his salty remarks, the DNC chairman embraced them, repeating the charge later at a rally on April 17.
"Republican leaders and President Trump don't give a shit about the people they were trying to hurt," he told a crowd in Portland, Maine.
He added later, in reference to the GOP budget, "They call it a skinny budget: I call it a shitty budget."
Lord Almighty. This feels less like righteous anger from a 53-year-old father and more like a community college professor's ham-fisted attempt to ingratiate himself with his students.
The DNC followed Perez's lead, and wasted no time selling "give a shit"-branded merchandise on its website. For those willing to shell out $30 for a shirt, they can buy one that reads, "Democrats give a sh*t about people."
"Show Republicans that you give a sh*t with this American-made t-shirt," the site's description reads.
The speed with which the DNC has moved to capitalize on Perez's line, and the fact that it is actually seeking to cash in on his remarks, suggests that this is not so much about being good and angry as it is about sending a carefully tailored message to angry grassroots supporters. Same for Gillibrand's obviously not-off-the-cuff silliness.
"It's not the cursing that makes me cringe, it's the fact that the cursing is very obviously part of a facile messaging strategy Perez has settled on to try to rebuild the party's populist credibility in the age of Trump. Trump said he was going to ‘bomb the sh*t' out of ISIS? Well, Tom Perez says Republicans don't give a sh*t about people," Hot Air's Allahpundit wrote in April.
"That's the sort of angry grassroots authenticity that only feedback from three or four focus groups can provide," he added.
He's right. Lines like "give a shit" and "go the fuck home" are clearly part of a routine. It's not authentic anger. It's about striking a pose that appeals to people who've been despondent since the Nov. 8 elections.
We'll give Hot Air the last word here: "You think this can't get any worse, but wait until Chelsea Clinton decides that the way she can shed mom's baggage and recast herself as a true-believing left-wing populist is to start peppering every other sentence with a painfully unpracticed F-bomb or S-bomb."
We can hardly wait.