Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Fourth Kind of Lie

The reaction within the GOP to John McCain's probable nomination troubles me. Here you have a war hero, a POW, a card-carrying member of the Reagan revolution, and he's roundly condemned by the loudest voices in the party. What's wrong with people? Mark Twain said, "There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics." If he had lived to see rihgt wing talk radio, he would've added a fourth kind. Ever had the feeling that those folks aren't doing conservatism any favors?

When I wrote this, Ann Coulter was threatening to vote for Hillary Clinton if McCain is the GOP presidential nominee. Rush Limbaugh is making un-retractable kinds of statements that will badly damage McCain's chances in the general election. Ol' Jimmy Dobson is saying he'll sit the election out entirely. Wow, that's brilliant! Thanks guys! You're so conservative you want another Clinton in office. That makes perfect sense. Why didn't *I* think of that? Bravo! (Insert sarcastic clapping here.)

But even beyond all the histrionics, these people - these four in particular - LIE, all the time. They abuse their positions in the media to make statements that are not only out of the conservative mainstream, but are just plain factually untrue, and it undermines conservatism's credibility. Either these people have terrible research staffs, or they know what they're doing. Do we want conservatism linked to that kind of behavior? There's a difference between playing rhetorical hard ball and flat out lying that these maniacs don't seem to get, and it's hurting us; it's hurting political discourse in general.

There are plenty of legitimate conservative commentators in the media. John Stossel and Neal Boortz are both fantastic, but they don't get nearly the exposure that the other jokers do because they refuse to stoop to circus tactics, AND they don't have the big business and Ivy League connections backing them up like Coulter and O'Reilly do. Think about it, Middle America. How often do you think Hannity has to worry about making his mortgage payments? Do you think he eats at Tuscan restaurants more or less than you? Coulter grew up in New Canaan, Connecticut and went to Cornell. Straight-talking regular folk? Their propaganda doesn't help the forces of good seem good, especially when it's as hysterical and thinly veiled as theirs tends to be.

Of course, Right Wing Media have helped round up the vote for the GOP, but it's also damaging the party's makeup. By that I mean we're full of rank-and-filers and cheerleaders who don't have a clue about the hard work of real, facts-and-figures policy-making. And right about now you can tell.

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