The first time I heard the phrase "playing the (whatever) card" was in connection with the OJ Simpson trial where a legal analyst speculated whether the defense team would 'play the race card'. Subsequently, it seems I've heard the expression used in connection with a lot of different situations. A few months ago someone on Cyburbia was carrying on with a screed about how he served in the military and how all you other schmucks on Cyburbia didn't/couldn't appreciate the cost of freedom unless you'd done the same blah blah blah (I think Mendelman called him on it and ended up telling him back off). I thought to myself at the time 'he's playing the military card'.
I guess the meaning of the phrase 'playing the ------card' is clear enough.....because of this one personal attribute, knowlege, or experience, I can invalidate your arguments because you have not done, know about, or experienced this certain thing.
Sounds pathetic to a point, but at the same time there has to be at least a kernel of legitimacy to the principle or no one would ever do it.
What are some of the more egregious examples of 'playing the -----card' you've encountered? Alternately, if you buy into the notion at all perhaps you could share an anecdote of a time you really shut someone up by playing your own card.