The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, October 19, 2007

You'll laugh, you'll cry

I'm not sure if it's just me, or if the media's sensible response to the kooky Graeme Frost smears have given me a false sense of hope. But winger blogs are starting to look a bit less irritating these days, and a little more silly. The right's responses to a given issue are so predictable at this point that they're finally striking me as laughable. Hopefully it isn't just me-- because the day that the Malkins and Dobsons of the nation become walking punchlines is the day that the reactionary stranglehold on our politics will have been loosened, and they will resume their rightful place at the lunatic fringe of society.

Here's another recent example: right before Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the online reactionary community was touting a British court case as definitive, irrefutable proof that the science behind An Inconvenient Truth was a pack of lies. Something seemed fishy right off the bat. After all, judges in the court system don't determine what's science and what isn't (creationism, anyone?). But it gets even sillier. In the rush to pillory Al Gore, no one bothered to mention what the case was all about.

Stewart Dimmock's high-profile fight to ban the film being shown in schools was depicted as a David and Goliath battle, with the Kent school governor taking on the state by arguing that the government was 'brainwashing' pupils. . . .

Dimmock credited the little-known New Party with supporting him in the test case but did not elaborate on its involvement. The obscure Scotland-based party calls itself 'centre right' and campaigns for lower taxes and expanding nuclear power.

Records filed at the Electoral Commission show the New Party has received nearly all of its money - almost £1m between 2004 and 2006 - from Cloburn Quarry Limited, based in Lanarkshire.

The company's owner and chairman of the New Party, Robert Durward, is a long-time critic of environmentalists.

And there you have it: the American right's shocking expose of the global warming conspiracy was based upon the impeccable scientific credentials of a right-wing, UK mining & petroleum magnate.

Now, since I'm already talking about Gore, I'd like to direct your attention to a recent article that pretty much sums up my state of mind. And is very well-written.

One of the consequences is that what actually ought to be gaffes -- statements that reveal something truly problematic about a candidate -- almost always get ignored. For instance, when John McCain said in the same debate, in response to a question about interest rates, "I wish interest rates were zero," one might have thought it would merit some notice. After all, the comment suggests an alarming ignorance of the most elementary economic principles (if interest rates were zero, no bank would lend any money), raising serious doubts about whether a person so uninformed should be in charge of the federal government. Or contrast what Romney got criticized for this week with a what he said back in May: "They want to bring down the West, in particular us. And they're coming together as Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, with that intent."

That someone who might actually be the president of the United States understands so little about the religious and political cleavages within the Muslim world is nothing short of terrifying. Does Mitt Romney actual think that Shia and Sunni are "coming together" to attack us? Does he believe that Hezbolla, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda even have similar goals, let alone are in some kind of alliance? If so, he isn't qualified to make photocopies in the Beirut embassy, let alone chart our nation's strategy to prevent terrorism. Yet that statement caused no flapping of gums on "Hardball," no wagging of fingers from the seasoned reporters like Dan Balz, no prodding from the pundits to get with the program already and act like a serious candidate.

Which brings us back to Al Gore. With the possible exception of Barry Goldwater thirty-six years before, no presidential candidate in the television age has been treated with the kind of naked contempt reporters heaped on Gore during his 2000 run. While they portrayed George W. Bush as an honest and genial fellow who was "comfortable in his own skin" if not the sharpest tool in the shed, Gore was ridiculed as a liar and a phony whose very desire to be president was disqualifying in and of itself.

Highly recommended.