Sunday, January 1, 2012

Iowa, the Media, and the Debasement of the Political Debate

The economy has been in the tank for three years. The country is at a junction point between capitalism and entrepreneurism or statism and dependency. These are the issues that will be decided next November.

But that’s not the campaign this year in Iowa.

If we are to believe the media, the result of the Republican caucuses next Tuesday will be either a candidate, Governor Mitt Romney, the Republicans can’t abide, or a lightweight the American people will not elect. As the saying goes: “You can’t beat someone with no one.”

Bachman, Gingrich, Paul, Perry, Santorum are all portrayed as deeply flawed, unethical, two-faced, flip-floppers, or stupid. Statements from decades ago are flyspecked with an electron microscope to find “gotcha’ moments.” The Washington Post does a “Pinocchio count” by its fact checker for misstatements by the candidates. The New York Times ran color photos of the candidates’ homes, as if that’s relevant.

Gaffes are seized upon as evidence of stupidity, ignorance and incompetence, rather than as a manifestation of tiredness from non-stop campaigning.

There’s nothing new here. The media always says these canards about Republicans. Tricky Dickie was unethical. Gerry Ford was a bumbling dolt. Ronald Reagan was a naïve, stupid cowboy. George H. W. Bush was out of touch with the American people. His son, George W. Bush, was an idiot who stole the election.

Etc., etc., etc.

The difference this time is that the Republican candidates are playing along with the media in painting the picture of the Republican slate. The attack ads are relentless, belittling both the target and the attacker. The candidates, with the exception of Newt Gingrich, have lost touch with Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment “Thou shall not speak ill if a fellow Republican.”

Have we forgotten we are electing a President, not the Pope or a saint?

Imagine if it came out that one of the Republicans used cocaine and other drugs?
Imagine the uproar!

Of course, that’s President Obama in his younger years.

We are told Ron Paul is a naïve isolationist, to the left of the Democrats!

Was it Congressman Paul who said that the Taliban are not per se our enemy?

No, it was Vice President Biden last week, who is a living, walking, breathing gaffe machine.

Did Herman Cain hit upon women? Probably, but did Gloria Allred and the media raise an outcry about Governor Bill Clinton’s record of “Bimbo eruptions?” Did the media pursue the statements of Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, or Juanita Broaddrick? What about Jennifer Flowers and Elizabeth Ward Gracen? What about Senators Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy?

Did Newt Gingrich receive money from Freddie and Fanny while out of office? Senator Barack Obama was the largest recipient of campaign contributions from Freddie and Fannie.

As for gaffes, let us not forget Senator Kerry campaigning in Taylor, Michigan on August 1, 2004 saying “I just go for Buckeye football.”

Also don’t forget Senator Obama in Beaverton, Oregon in May 2008 “I’ve now been in 57 states, and have one left to go.”

You probably never heard these in the media, but you would have if uttered by one of the Republicans. Since both President Obama and Senator Kerry are presumed brilliant, the media assumes these misstatements are the result of being tired. No similar mercy is shown Republicans for gaffes though.

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan was gaining traction, but then he was Borked out of the campaign. Governor Pawlenty was a non-factor in the Iowa Straw Vote, so he dropped out early. Governor Huntsman is ignored as if he is an afterthought.

Any of the Republican candidates, with the exception of Congressman Ron Paul and his pacifist foreign policy, is more qualified to be President than the incumbent, and will do a better job for America.

The Iowa voter, the American voter deserve more. We need an airing of the issues, not the slinging of trivia and mud.

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