Monday, December 10, 2012

What went wrong with the GOP

 Oh politics.

We just had an election and it shows no signs of wanting to go away.
Even now, political pundits are taking everything apart, picking at the carcass of the loser's dead campaign and performing a rhetorical autopsy in an effort to determine what went wrong.  The media is even being self-critical in an effort to see how coverage could have been better.

Two men posit they know exactly what went wrong for Republicans.  More the shocker, most of the media stood by while it happened.

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein are two long-time political observers of moderate if not conservative leanings.  Their "cause of death" for the Romney campaign?  "The radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth."  The leadership of the GOP has become "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

And just why was this ignored during the coverage of the past election, regardless of how outrageous the lies or the distortions?  Believe it or not, it was out of an effort to remain non-biased.

There are obviously news outlets that don't care about bias.  Fox News, MSNBC, they both embrace their opposite slants while nearly everyone else moves to gobble up the middle.  "Their editors and producers, who felt they were looking out for the economic wellbeing of their news organizations, were also concerned about their professional standing and vulnerability to charges of partisan bias," Mann said.

Understandably, it is quite a charge to call someone a liar and you'd better have extraordinary evidence on your side to do so.  Any room for error leaves you open to a lawsuit.  Well if you need facts, what about all the "fact checkers" we had in the past election?  As Mann points out: "Fact checkers almost seemed obliged to show some balance in their fact checking."  And just whose "facts" are getting reported?

Mann and Ornstein say that they are not taking a Democratic stance with this assessment and I believe them.  Instead, they are making a pragmatic appeal to the GOP: your message of fiscal responsibility will never be heard until you can cut loose from the nutjobs of the Tea Party that wants us back in the 1950s and the fundamentalist Bible-thumpers who think that there really was an Adam and Eve and that they rode around on dinosaurs.

More than that, I think this report just demonstrates what a dog and pony show it is for both sides of the aisle.  You can buy the truth.  You can create the truth.  It's all mere consensual illusion so you can toss a falsehood out there and then let it sit with impunity, even back peddle on it and apologize.  But it's out there.  It's in the zeitgeist and the public consciousness where it can metastasize into a "truth;" a truth not moored to fact but accepted only because enough people will believe it.  The game goes on and on and nothing truly concrete emerges.

Just more evidence for the "simulated universe" theory. 

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