John Kerry

Election Reflection

It seems a vicious cycle.

One party, usually the Republican Party, stoops to a new low in campaigning. The people validate the maneuver because negative ads, argumentative fallacies, and outright lies are much more entertaining than boring policy details. Now it’s on the market. The other party must play along, or else get waxed yet again. And that’s when voters start complaining.

Detail of cartoon by Matt Wuerker, via Daily Kos, 6 November 2014.It’s been this way at least since Atwater.

Who remembers 2004?

With John Kerry on the Democratic ticket, a pack of angry conservatives who showed up for basically any election he was involved in unleashed their fury on the nation, denouncing him as having received combat awards he did not deserve. It got so bad that a man named Paul Galanti denounced truth as un-American. But the ringleader, named Larry Thurlow, swore up and down that he had eyes on Kerry and the future Massachusetts senator and U.S. Secretary of State did not do what the reports earning his medals said he did.

One of Kerry’s awards was for pulling a man out of the drink under fire. This is an ironic setup, of course, because life provides great punch lines.

Larry Thurlow himself received awards for that day.

And there was a third medal. Eventually a reporter figured out who received it and obtained the relevant reports.

That medal was for pulling Larry Thurlow out of the drink, while under fire.

You would think that would pretty much end the fake scandal. Except it didn’t.

The accusations continued to erode Kerry’s credibility, despite the fact of being untrue.

So the question is: In a competitive marketplace, why would what works not be adopted by competitors?

So every time Americans reward that kind of vice with votes, they are simply setting themselves up for more viciousness.

And then they complain about the wretched state of our politics.

There seems to be a contradiction in that outcome.

It is almost as if we are enacting a modern variation on the ancient scapegoat ritual, and elect politicians specifically to complain about them. And while that might seem an entertaining sport of some kind, it also has real, living consequences.

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Wuerker, Matt. “Poli Sci”. Daily Kos. 6 November 2014.

A Question: Why Do We Need to Lower the Bar for Iowa?

Joni Ernst and Sarah Palin push misogyny as an Iowa value.

Because Joni Ernst and Sarah Palin say so.

Hey, Iowa, are you embarrassed yet?

Republican Joni Ernst defended Tuesday her decision to abruptly cancel a meeting with the Des Moines Register Editorial Board last week, telling CNN “it didn’t make sense” because she knew they would back her Democratic opponent.

(Bash)

How about now?

Meanwhile, this is a Republican wanting to change the rules.

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Is Jennifer Rubin Sinister or Merely Stupid?

Jennifer Rubin, right-wing blogger for The Washington Post.

Even the simplest of differences can create false appearances. For instance: Is Jennifer Rubin sinister or stupid?

In the end, though, the difference is one of valences. Sinister forgives stupidity in some cases for the fact of reasonable execution, but even the sinister is cultivated around a germ of ignorance.

In the first place, there is Rubin’s arrival at The Washington Post. Eric Alterman of The Nation noted last year—

It is no secret to anyone that conservatives have conducted a remarkably successful, decades-long campaign to undermine the practice of honest, aggressive journalism with trumped-up accusations of liberal bias. They have made massive investments of time and money in groups and individuals devoted to “working the refs,” and these have yielded significant ideological dividends—which, as might be predicted, have only encouraged them to keep it up.

—as a preface to his discussion of Jennifer Rubin as “The Washington Post’s Problem”. She was the third in a string of quota hires made as part of an attempt to deliberately throw their political coverage rightward in order to fend off attacks of being too liberal. Ben Domenech, their first hire for the position, turned out to be a sharp-tongued plagiarist, which was kind of embarrassing for the Post, as you might imagine. Next they plucked Dave Weigel from Reason.com, and one can reasonably say the Reason franchise has never been the same. Yet for all the quality of this pick, Post editors deemed him unsuitable for the task after realizing that he just wasn’t conservative enough. So the newspaper turned to rabid right-winer Jennifer Rubin, and the disaster of her term as a staff blogger really is hard to describe. Alterman’s review for The Nation is an excellent read, but it is also something of a headache insofar as truth is stranger than fiction and the twists and turns of Jennifer Rubin’s greatest contribution to our political discourse would seem to have something to do with mainstreaming hardline rightist tinfoil in major news media. After the 2012 election, Rubin’s ability to change her story without the slightest hint of shame, or even decency, was pretty much on display for anyone to see. Simon Maloy tried to sketch the degree of self-contradiction in her coverage of the Romney loss; it isn’t pretty.

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