Some prominent commentators, like Paul Krugman, have lamented the lack of truthful political reporting in the mainstream media. I am in total agreement with this point of view, and find it truly lamentable as well. However, I believe there is something far more worrisome going on than the unexposed and unassailed lying.
My concern is not so much the degree to which the media fail to report the plain facts regarding this or that issue in dispute. Rather, it is that so many truly absurd and outrageous positions by some candidates have been faithfully reported, but the truth seems not to hurt them at all. Of course, you may have guessed I mostly have Republican politicians in mind.
It seems the crazier their ideas or complaints, the better that side of the political spectrum seems to like it. Even a good portion of the so-called swing or independent voters appear willing to abide and entertain truly remarkable idiocy in the public conversation today. Since Newt is the current hot property over there beyond the pale, let's review just a few examples of his nonsense to make our point.
Back in the days of Speaker Newt, he once got so personally offended at President Clinton for consigning him to the rear of Air Force One, that his ridiculous fit of pique wound up tangled in the decision to shut-down the federal government. Only a few years earlier, he had admitted that the whole Republican drive to starve the government of essential revenue was aimed at causing programs the hard right wants to kill, such as Medicare, to wither and die on the vine. And now, we find Newt campaigning to erase what he calls the "stupid laws" against a truly despicable form of child abuse, child labor. He wants to replace the janitorial staff in public schools with poor children, so they would learn the habits of hard work. Uh, huh.
What else would they learn in educational institutions operating under the mandate to raise blisters instead of test scores? Ironically, it might be something vaguely literary. With Mr. Shakespeare's indulgence to twist a phrase, they may well conclude that the fault is not in our political stars, but in ourselves.