There’s a reason I wish desperately that I could learn to ignore the political game that masquerades as Presidential politics in this country. It begins with things like this…
I regularly read Power Line, a right-wing blog, so I can see what the “other side” is saying. Far too many times the posts are filled with unsubstantiated charges and name-calling against liberals, democrats, Barack Obama, and others on that side of the political spectrum. And the comments section of the blog involves people making incredibly degrading comments about liberals and Democrats and Barack Obama and there appears to be no effort to moderate those comments. (More on that later.)
So, this morning, I check out Power Line and there is a post about Ann Coulter — a political commentator who has made a career out of foul-mouthed and disgusting comments about liberals and Democrats. Apparently, Ms. Coulter tweeted the following during the Wednesday debate because she thought candidates spent too much time talking about Israel:
How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?
Apparently, this is a step too far for the folks who run Power Line. One of the blog’s writers then quoted a number of other commentators who were offended by Ms. Coulter’s tweet, including one who writes for The Weekly Standard, another right-wing media source, who said that Ms. Coulter’s tweet made her “guilty of degrading our discourse along with President Obama.” This suggestion that the President has degraded the level of discourse is made as though it were true without need of factual support. It is … because it is.
This coming from a blog, PowerLine, which thinks it’s cute to refer to Bernie Sanders ideas as bullshit, as it did in a recent post with a headline that used that word. This coming from a blog that regularly denigrates all who it opposes and does just about everything to dehumanize the President except use the “n” word on him. And then allows the commenters to its posts to continue the dehumanization.
The interesting thing about this is that I commented on the post and said the following:
I agree that Ann Coulter, among many others, is degrading the discourse in this country. Only problem, among those many others, is Power Line, which thinks nothing of referring to Bernie Sanders ideas as bullshit, and makes frequent, regular, extremely derogatory comments about the opposition in a way that, yes, degrades the discourse. And allows for what appears to be unmoderated comments that takes the level of the debate even further into the gutter. I guess, though, that it’s OK when Power Line does it, because Democrats and Liberals are worthy of degradation, but when it is directed at one of your favorite groups, it’s a horrible crime to do so. I think you need to look in the mirror on this one, gentlemen.
Here’s the interesting thing about that comment … it appeared immediately after I posted it. Now, when I look at the post, my comment has disappeared. So, apparently, they do moderate their comments — to delete the comments that hit a little close to home. For instance, one of the commenters to the post said nothing more than, “How do you say the “c” word in Hebrew?” It’s still there, apparently permanent, because that certainly is a healthy contribution to the discussion and debate and isn’t degrading in any way.
Meanwhile, during the rest of my morning perusal of the internet, I came across a headline that “Trump says he has no ‘moral obligation’ to defend Obama.” For those of you able to ignore these things, this headline relates to a charming individual who spoke at a Trump town hall meeting a couple of days ago. This is the guy who said “we have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims.” The man then went on to state as fact that the President is a Muslim and isn’t an American. Donald Trump, of course, did not challenge the man on these conclusions and there was a subsequent media storm. To which, Trump has responded thusly:
Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don’t think so!
All I saw this morning was the headline and truthfully at the time I kind of didn’t disagree. Until this afternoon. I went to the Giants game this afternoon with a group of friends. While we waited in a line after the game to board the ferry that would take us back to our cars on the other side of the Bay, I over heard a woman standing next to me read a statement from something on her phone. It went something like this:
Osama, I mean Obama, is a domestic terrorist. Just look at the terrorists he is releasing from Guantanamo. This is what I believe and that’s it. I get to believe what I want to believe.
And that’s exactly why Trump is wrong. He does actually have a responsibility, a moral obligation, to correct somebody who stands up and says the President is a Muslim and not an American. Ignoring it and in a lot of ways condoning and agreeing with these kind of spurious, unsubstantiated allegations (although at this point, i have to say an allegation that somebody is a Muslim should not be considered spurious. The vast, vast majority of Muslims in the U.S. and around the world are not terrorists!!) continues us all down the path where people get to believe what they want to believe regardless of facts and reality.
And if people get to believe what they want to believe regardless of facts and reality, how is it remotely possible for us to have an honest and credible discussion about the problems facing our country and the world and come to reasonable solutions? I’ll tell you how possible it is — it’s impossible.
What really bothers me about all of this on all sides of the debate is the rank hypocrisy and inconsistency that is rampant across the political spectrum in this country. Democrats have rules for how Republicans are supposed to act and ignore when their own side doesn’t follow the rules. And Republicans do the same.
During the 2004 election, MoveOn.org conducted a contest seeking commercials opposing GWB’s re-election. More than 1,500 commercials were submitted, of which two compared GWB to Hitler. The entire Republican apparatus in this country had a massive tantrum and essentially accused MoveOn of crimes against nature and humanity and tried to use this to tar all liberals. Because of two commercials MoveOn had no control over and weren’t selected by the over 100,000 voters who selected the top 15 commercials.
Meanwhile, when Obama was elected, the establishment wing of the Republican Party has essentially remained silent while the right-wing, extreme, Tea Party wing has done everything it can to dehumanize the President — so, yeah, comparing GWB to Hitler is a crime, but … calling Obama un-American, accusing him of wanting to destroy the country. Calling him a Muslim, not that there’s anything wrong with that from my perspective. It never ends. And nobody from the Republican Party calls them out for the unreasonableness and factual inaccuracies of their statements and their beliefs. All is fair in love and war and politics, apparently. The end justifies the means. You know. As long as it’s our side that’s doing it.
Only, I think all of this utterly and completely wrong. Ann Coulter and her potty-mouth charges were perfectly fine to the hosts of Power Line as long as she directed her crap towards liberals, Democrats, and President Obama. But cross the line and use the f word the way she did in her recent tweet and she suddenly is degrading the level of discourse. Refer to Bernie Sanders as being full of bullshit and that’s OK. Let people stand up and accuse the President of not being an American and you have no moral obligation to correct the accusation.
Only they do. If these individuals want to represent this country, then they actually have a moral obligation to seek our vote in a factual and reality-based world. They actually have a moral obligation to correct the lies and frauds. They actually have a moral obligation to elevate the debate rather than allowing it to continue to sink further and further into the muck. And that’s where they all are failing. Republicans, Democrats, and all — they are allowing the worst of us to drive the direction of the discussion rather than standing up and saying “No, that’s not how we do things.”
And because of that, we have people who believe they get to believe whatever they want regardless of facts on the ground. When you have Trump stand up in a debate and say he’s never lobbied for Indian casinos in Florida and I could find the proof within seconds that he actually did, when Christie says in two debates that he was appointed U.S. Attorney on September 10 and I can find the proof within seconds that he was not, when Fiorina lies about what’s on those Planned Parenthood videos, when two doctors completely flub some pretty basic things about vaccines in an effort not to offend their base, when all of this continues to happen year after year, election after election, those of us who want honor and integrity and respect in our campaigns and elected officials simply give up.
Mr. Trump, if you want to lead this country you do have a moral obligation to stand up to the yahoos that want to believe things that are fundamentally and verifiably simply not true. Yes, you do. If you think you don’t have that obligation, than you have no right to ask for our vote.