Impossible to underestimate tha crazy?

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From Will Bunch, "In wagering on Doug Mastriano, Josh Shapiro plays a dangerous game for Pa.", Philadelphia Inquirer 5/8/2022:

The Democrats should have learned their lesson in 2016. In this millennium, it’s impossible to underestimate the power of “tha crazy” coming out of a Republican Party base in which not only a majority of voters now believe 2020′s Big Lie that the last election was somehow stolen from Trump, but in which an alarming number are waiting for John F. Kennedy Jr. — last seen when he died in a 1999 plane crash — to expose a baby-eating cabal of Democratic pols and Hollywood stars and maybe arrest Anthony Fauci for treason.

So is it impossible to underestimate the power of "tha crazy"? Or did Mr. Bunch really mean that it's impossible to overestimate that power?

As you think about this question, you might want to try playing "The estimation game" (4/3/2014), and perhaps also read some of our many previous posts on the subject:

"We cannot/must not understate/overstate", 5/6/2004
"Overstating understatement", 6/22/2004
"Multiplex negatio ferblondiat", 7/14/2007
"Weird logic and Bayesian semantics", 7/15/2007
"'Cannot underestimate' = 'must not underestimate'?", 11/6/2008
"Misunderestimation", 4/4/2009
"Gov. Cuomo and our poor monkey brains", 1/21/2011
"… not understating the threat", 6/5/2012
"(Not) Underestimating the Irish Famine", 9/16/2012
"Overestimating, underestimating, whatever", 1/11/2013
"CIA unable to underestimate the effect of drone war", 4/7/2013
"Misnegation of the week", 5/17/2013
"'Impossible to understate' again", 3/1/2014
"'Hard to understate'", 3/19/2014

Or if you have a spare week, you could peruse our full misnegation archive, "No post too obscure to escape notice".

The obligatory screenshot:

[h/t Ron Irving]



  1. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 11, 2022 @ 6:55 pm

    I'm separately interested in what's up with "tha" as some sort of eye-dialect (?) variant for "the." What rhetorical point is being made and/or cultural/political ground being gained by writing "tha crazy" rather than "the crazy"? Is the writer trying to affect some sort of informal-but-with-it style or is he instead somehow mocking/deprecating such a style? I understand that the sneer quotes around "tha crazy" will give the writer some plausible deniability if things somehow go bad, but I am genuinely unsure of the political/factional affiliations of the putative quotee the writer will then shift responsibility onto. There are certainly some contexts in which "tha" seems to be intended as an AAVEism (whether spontaneous or affected is a different question), but I'm uncertain if that's what's going on here.

  2. Chester Draws said,

    May 11, 2022 @ 7:20 pm

    You normally mock with "teh crazy", so suggest the sort of person who types so fast that they don't even check for simple spelling mistakes.

    I'd suggest that "tha" is to give the impression of yokels who don't pronounce their words very well.

    I'm not convinced that continually mocking half the voting electorate as morons is a game-winner though.

    It certainly won't be a AAVE reference. The writer is pretty certain that only racist White people voted for Trump.

  3. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    May 11, 2022 @ 8:55 pm

    @ Chester Draws —

    While your logic says that "tha crazy" is not an AAVE reference, I wonder if logic applies to the writer in question. Will Bunch is nothing if not idiosyncratic. Philly has plenty of hip hop and rap fans, too, and he probably knows it.

    Bunch has used "tha crazy" before. A search brought me this quote from "Rick Perry's Glenn Beck Problem," which is another "attytood" column by Bunch in the Philadelphia Inquirer. I can't quote more, because it is paywalled:

    Today, you might think of Beck as the guy who increasingly brought "tha crazy" in his 29-month run on the Fox News Channel, who hyped conspiracy theories …

    There's also an older post, Santorum Surges from Behind in Iowa, also an attytood post, with this quote:

    Dec 29, 2011 — … circa 1990s, and doesn't know how to "bring tha crazy" the way that the talk radio/Tea Party faction of the party likes it.

    To find these, I searched Google using this search (even though Google got a little irritated with my terms — "Did you mean: attitude: "that crazy" "):
    attytood: "tha crazy"

  4. Viseguy said,

    May 11, 2022 @ 9:04 pm

    Possibly a gratuitous reference to "Tha Crazy Song". Googling the song title, with quotes, returns, among others, a YouTube link. I don't hear any tha's in the lyrics, by the way.

  5. Seth said,

    May 11, 2022 @ 9:57 pm

    This wouldn't be the first time an expression which originated in AAVE then migrated into broader use, losing any particular group significance along the way.

  6. Philip Taylor said,

    May 12, 2022 @ 3:39 am

    As a Briton, my immediate reaction was to ask "who is Pa ?".

  7. AntC said,

    May 12, 2022 @ 4:13 am

    Birds Aren't Real.

    Impossible to over-egg tha irony?

  8. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 12, 2022 @ 6:50 am

    If the full phrase is "bring tha crazy," it may be somehow relevant that Anthrax' 1991 cover version (a metal/rap hybrid thing that was rather formally innovative for its day) of Public Enemy's 1987 "Bring the Noise" is, wikipedia tells me, sometimes spelt as "Bring tha Noise" or "Bring tha Noize." I think of the locus classicus of "tha" in late '80's hip-hop as

  9. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    May 12, 2022 @ 1:21 pm

    @ Philip Taylor —

    “Pa.” Is an edited version of the zipcode abbreviation (designated by the U.S. Postal Service) for Pennsylvania, and it normally appears as “PA” on envelopes and in other contexts.

    It isn’t uncommon to hear people refer to the state by the letters P A in speech. Someone might ask a new arrival, “So, how do you like living in P A?”

  10. Philip Taylor said,

    May 12, 2022 @ 4:02 pm

    Thank you Barbara. I was vaguely familiar with the custom of abbreviating American states to their ?first? two letters, but had only previously encountered instances thereof in upper case. The lower-case 'a' of 'Pa' therefore threw me.

  11. Philip Taylor said,

    May 12, 2022 @ 4:11 pm

    I should, of course, have thought for longer before postulating '?first? two letters' — PA for Pennsylvania is an obvious counter-example.

  12. Chas Belov said,

    May 12, 2022 @ 4:36 pm

    Yes, I always say "Pittsburgh P A".

    The two letter abbreviation was assigned by the United States Postal Service (USPS), I think about the same time they introduced Zip Codes.

    However, I'm pretty sure Associated Press style eschews those in favor of more traditional abbreviations, of which "Pa." is one and "Penna." is another, and maybe also "Penn.". Or maybe they want newspapers (and anyone else who follows AP Style) to spell it out in full.

  13. Chas Belov said,

    May 12, 2022 @ 4:37 pm

    *The two letter all-caps abbreviation

  14. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 12, 2022 @ 5:11 pm

    As wikipedia indicates, the U.S. legal profession remains a redoubt of resistance to the newfangled TWO-LETTER-ALL-CAPS system of 1963. Resistance by the general American public has not been as firm as resistance to the metric system, but defenders of traditional usage against bureaucratic rationalization need to be willing to play the long game.

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