Politics postsFriday August 08, 2008
G.O.P.: The Party of Stupid
Everyone needs to read Paul Krugman's column today, particularly this graf:
What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”
That McCain Rumor
Here’s the headline in yesterday’s New York Times: “McCain Is Trying to Define Obama as Out of Touch.” Here’s the unspoken subhed: “And we let him.”
Not that I don’t sympathize. It’s a tough gig being objective these days. The Republicans learned long ago how to use the mainstream media, always striving for objectivity, to their advantage: Pin what you want on your opponent and that becomes the talking point.
If I wrote, for example, that John McCain has no genitalia, merely a ball of fluff between his legs, and this rumor gained enough momentum, then that would become the story. Refutations, denials, headlines. “McCain: ‘I Have Genitalia’: But Refuses to Drop Pants for Media.” News cameras would focus on his crotch and news anchors, with resident experts, would analyze what we saw. “I believe there’s something there, Paula. Now whether it's actually genitalia...” The late night comedians would have a field day. Op-Ed columnists would opine that, even if the rumor were true, how does that relate to the act of governing? We’d get the European reaction, the Chinese reaction, and analysis of what this might mean for the War on Terror. Can we fight al Qaeda if our president literally has no balls? And no matter how many times the rumor was denied, and no matter from how many angles it was refuted, still, on election day, many voters would vote against him with this reasoning: Well, that McCain feller, he’s just got a ball of fluff between his legs.
So how do you fight this? How do you write about the process of the campaign without playing into one side’s strategy? How silly does it have to get before you throw up your hands and refuse to let the candidates dictate talking points?
At the least, Obama’s response to the lastest McCain attacks is exactly right: “Is that the best they got?” Hopefully, when Paris and Britney are mentioned during the rest of this campaign, most of us will simply be reminded of how trivial McCain and the Republicans want to make it all while the world burns.
That New York Times Front Page
That said, allow me to be enthusiastic again. Here's part of Obama's speech, as reported in the New York Times, before an estimated crowd of 200,000 in Berlin yesterday:
“Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world?” Mr. Obama asked in his speech, then added pointedly, “Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?” The huge crowd applauded and waved American flags.
Waved American flags. Wow. It's been a while since I've seen a U.S. politician address crowds that large and enthusiastic. Have I ever seen it? In my lifetime? Here's the accompanying picture, which made the front page, too:
Fox News: Anti-Semitic or merely vindictive?
One of my favorite New York Times writers, David Carr, has a great piece on news organizations dealing with Fox News' organization — particularly its PR apparatus — and the “fair and balanced” network comes off fairly paranoid and vindictive. Nixon's dirty tricks come to mind. Roger Ailes, Nixon's advisor and Fox's chief executive, comes to mind.
You write something they don't like, they won't talk to you for 15 months. You report the facts, they photoshop your face so it looks weathered, haggard, or, in the case of NY Times reporter Jacques Steinberg, virtually unrecognizable — or recognizable only to a Joseph Goebbels. Carr writes, “In a technique familiar to students of vintage German propaganda, [Steinberg's] ears were pulled out, his teeth splayed apart, his forehead lowered and his nose was widened and enlarged in a way that made him look more like Fagin than the guy I work with.”
See their photoshop handiwork here.
See the video from “Fox & Friends” here.
Throw up here.
This made me laugh out loud. A take-off of the will.i.am video for Obama...but using the inspiring words of John McCain instead: