On Broad-Brushing the Republican Party

Last Tuesday, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews had this to say about the Republican Party:

Here’s a party that — I’m just keeping the list. They want more people to fry. They love executions. They want people that don’t have insurance to die on the gurney in the hospital bed. They want that to happen. They want — forget about illegal aliens. Gay soldiers, forget about them. They’re not — they’re to be booed. If you’re homeless, foreclose — if you have a home, foreclose on the people. If you’re a teacher, fireman or a cop, get rid of the guy! I mean, this attitude of causing cruel pain on people and getting cheers for it, what’s that about, Howard? You’re giving me that look. They’re in my head with this. I want to know where these candidates are heading with this.

Let’s break this down civilly, and give the increasingly unhinged Chris Matthews from the increasingly unhinged MSNBC a response on the merits, mindful that his slanderous gush had little to do with the merits and much to do with embarrassingly juvenile anger.

1. “They want more people to fry. They love executions.” This is the kind of preposterous statement that says so much more about the speaker than the target. No person of either party “loves” executions. It is impossible to be human and “love” an execution. I’m thoroughly Republican and hate executions. I just re-watched Anne of the Thousand Days with Richard Burton and Genevieve Bujold, and I cringed and winced at every single execution ordered by Henry VIII, and despised Henry VIII all the more for his profligate killing. Nothing about executions is appealing.

If the question is support for the death penalty, most Americans do, including 58% of Democrats. It is possible to support the death penalty because some particularly heinous crimes take a person beyond entitlement to dwell with us — without “loving ” executions. It is possible to believe justice is served when a killer is killed without “loving” executions.

The Obama administration has executed, without trial, Osama bin Ladin and Anwar al-Awlaki, among others. I haven’t celebrated. I’m glad they’re dead and good for the president. Democrats are more likely to celebrate these killings as proof of the president’s national security bona fides. Rah rah, Chris. Who’s loving it?

2. “They want people that don’t have insurance to die on the gurney in the hospital bed. They want that to happen.” Note the redoubled insistence — “they want that to happen.” They want people to die. Republicans really want people to die.

Republicans don’t want ObamaCare — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want more people insured and medical care to be more affordable and accessible (much less wanting people to die). Republicans have a different approach, a more market-based approach that drives down costs (tort reform — the resistance to which demonstrates Democrats’ desire for people to die — just kidding and channeling Chris) and ensures medical care competition rather than the government monopoly toward which ObamaCare drives. This is a fair debate. I would hope in any event to call it a fair debate, unless I’m being accused of wanting people to die.

Wasn’t it outrageous when Sarah Palin rallied against “death panels”? Wasn’t that the left’s energetic attack on the right as “lies, lies, lies” and proof that conservatives would resort to any rhetoric to rally the base? Oh my, never mind that Sarah Palin’s claim enjoyed a kernel of truth in the bill, even if the rhetoric was beyond the pale. She suggested that a bill would result in “death panels.” Chris Matthews suggests that Republicans — the entire party — want uninsured people to die, really, “they want that to happen.” I’d suggest a measure of self-policing, of some very basic description of what counts for acceptable rhetoric.

3. “They want- forget about illegal aliens.” I think this sort of vacuously speaks for itself.

4. “Gay soldiers, forget about them. They’re not- they’re to be booed.” Granted, a bad moment for the Republican party in one debate. But think about the issue here: a hypocritical expectation that Republicans seize the moment to condemn booers in a Republican debate, when the moment moved very quickly to another topic. Who gets credit in that scenario? How is that navigated? And who yet in the Democratic party has condemned Chris Matthews? That said, Republicans, get serious about respecting our men and women in uniform who happen to be gay.

5. “If you’re homeless, foreclose- if you have a home, foreclose on the people.” Yes, that’s what Republicans want to do, foreclose on the homeless — and the homeful, hahaha. Anybody who can be without a home, that’s good. The people suck. We hate them. Are you following me?

What Republicans wanted was less profligate demand by Congress and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that lenders extend mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them. If fewer people who can’t afford mortgages had actually gotten them, then fewer people would have defaulted, and we might not be in this recession.

A foreclosure, like an execution (above), is never something any actual human being ever celebrates. To suggest that it is, and to paint an entire party as giddy about it, is the worst political rhetoric there is. Except for this:

6. “If you’re a teacher, fireman or a cop, get rid of the guy! I mean, this attitude of causing cruel pain on people and getting cheers for it, what’s that about, Howard?”

To be sure, Republicans want to get rid of teachers, fireman and cops. Vermin, all. But not before “causing them cruel pain and getting cheers for it.” That’s the Republican party. (And Howard helpfully agreed by the way.)

And this is what passes for the kind of discourse that’s acceptable as against the reviled Fox Network?

UPDATE (11/18/2011): Larry Elder does a Chris on Chris, and Chris crumbles.

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24 Responses to On Broad-Brushing the Republican Party

  1. semperfi says:

    I admire your ability to write about this – someone needs to have the fortitude to speak out against the speak-outers!

    • Sedate Me says:

      What about the people who have the fortitude to speak out against the people who speak out against the speak-outers?

      So, I can count on you to give me a thumbs for every negative comment I make in this topic?

      • Play nice.

  2. lbwoodgate says:

    You of course are right that Republicans as a group do not love executions, want uninsured people to die, hate illegal aliens and gay soldiers, want to force people out of their homes or eliminate public sector jobs. Matthews is playing to the extremist view here much like Hannity, O’Reilly and Fox and Friends do on the counter cable station to MSNBC – FOX.

    But neither do Democrats, especially liberal Democrats want guilty people to go free, want free health care for everyone, demoralize traditional society by allowing gays equal footing in society, want amnesty for all illegal aliens, or soak the state budgets with high dollar public sector jobs.

    It’s hyperbole and we all know it yet listeners for both stations acquiesce to such notions instead of turning their channels off or reprimanding such broadcast by inundating them with phone calls, e-mails and tweets. It’s a business and is successful because there’s a market for it. That says more about us as a people than it does about these bozos.

    “Perception is reality” a business executive told me one time and that’s what people like Matthews, Hannity, et al, get paid for – creating a false sense of reality based on ignorance, fear and intolerance. There’s little room these days for ethical and objective journalism because that extremist element in our society shouts “bias” loud enough if their extreme views are not projected to their satisfaction more in the MSM.

    • Well stated Larry. I completely agree.

  3. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    You know, printed here, Matthews’ words, verbatim, and all this bashing back and forth between parties just feels so grotesque and ugly. Sadly, his words are rehearsed over and over again by the faithful until they become a substitute for truth. Excellent piece, Kendrick and a valuable comment, LB.

    Of course, there is that issue with not raising taxes on the top 1% that just riles the hell out of me, K.

    • Thanks Jean. You know, the 1% thing is a very clever device. Personally, I’ve got no problem raising the tax rate on the top 1%, or pick a number, and I don’t think most Republicans do. Our problem is using gimmicks like that to stir up class warfare and then pretending that it’s anything even remotely close to a deficit solution. If we actually confiscated all the wealth of the top 1%, we still wouldn’t have put much of a dent in our deficit. Here’s a short video on the subject. And that actually should frighten people.

  4. lobotero says:

    Excellent post Kendrick…..

    The media, right or left, controls the news and the dialog…..I will agree that the entire party should not be held responsible for the acts of a few malcontents….I think it would have gone better if more biggies had come forward and call these people out for their actions….

    • Thanks Lobotero. I agree, there needs to be more calling out — though I sometimes wonder whether ignoring the misbehavers wouldn’t be more effective. Punditry outrages thrive on controversy. There’s an outrage, then stories about the outrage, and then comparative outrage stories — and pretty soon we’re all stuck in the muck of outrage. I’m obviously contributing to the cycle with posts like this one — but I felt had to say, “wait a minute” when Chris Matthews specifically describes the entire Republican Party as happy heartless death dealers.

  5. Jeff says:

    Well, my team came within one strike, twice, last night of putting me into a winter of grinning and ignoring politics until March, but this morning finds me in the foulest possible mood. Cut me some slack. I stopped reading your post at the word “Slanderous”. So you are calling Matthews a liar? I thought you were the great liberal of the definition of the word spin? I am going to need to search out a conservative blogger who is as outraged at the slander against President Obama as the ultra-sensitive, cherry picking conservatives are toward outrageous rhetoric from the left. We all need to stop confusing NEWS with POLITICAL ANALYSIS. News is the Huntley Brinkley Report. (Is that still on?) Matthews hosts “HARDBALL”. Hello? Matthews is always clearly op-ed. The former cop, who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, is pretty conservative by Democratic Party standards. He plays “HARDBALL” Just like those damn St. Louis Cardinals. (now, I’ll go back and read the whole post. I’m sure it’s just wonderful. I’m sure Stan Musial will love it.)

    • Jeff, you just can’t do it. You just can’t make an argument without starting it with an ad hominem about my failure of even-handedness. Why is that? And what’s the emoticon for shaking my head and smiling? And how do you think I felt writing this piece shortly after turning off the World Series last night? I was a bit irritable as well.

      • Jeff says:

        Okay, I have read the intellectual resource of the day, Wikipedia, on ad hominem. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

        It appears that an ad hominem argument is not necessarilly a logical fallacy.

        I plead nolo in past accusations and not guilty in the present case. It is not ad hominem to put your comments into the context of your past comments. You have a strong Republican Party bias in these matters, despite your protestations, yet you campaign for dignity and civility in discourse.

        My pokes at your stalwart defense of spin in past posts,seeks to probe and point out your logical inconsistencies. The fact is, calling Matthews “slanderous” does nothing to promote your oft repeated goal of civility. Your own attacks against the left place you somewhere between George Will and Rush Limbaugh, the tone of which never strike me as moderation in moderation.

        The vast majority of content that has inspired you to write your pleas for civility have been at the opportunity of shrill or lunatic rhetoric from the left. Rarely does the right offend you. It’s like when Catholics and Jews get together for those kum-by-yah and you can tell, they don’t hate each other but they don’t have any interest in understanding the other. What would be the point? Why should they try to understand something that just isn’t true? In essence, we are EXACTLY the same. You seem to buy into the right wing nut job belief about some vast left wing media conspiracy, and believe that “the left started it.” Switching left and right in the previous sentence and I wholly admit the same about me. Isn’t it wonderful being human and not Mr. Spock? Just as with my brother, you and I may never be able to resolve who “started it.” If my attacks are ad hominem they are not personal but circumstanial, you’re just taking them as personal. Stop taking them personally. I point out the logical fallacies of all Conservatives, not just you.

        I spend a lot of time with a lot of people every day, the majority of them Conservatives. There are no shortage of opinions from moderate to ultra-conservative. A significant percentage of people fall closer to the Matthews analysis than you might think. Matthews is not a good listener and a rude interupter, especially when a guest is just about to make a good point. I don’t like him much as a TV Personality.

        • Well, I thought the emoticon quip and the Rangers solidarity would underscore that I’m not taking your argument, even its ad hominem variety, personally. Evidently not. It’s just that we keep having this meta-conversation, and you keep coming back to holding me to a standard you do not meet yourself. Yes, of course you’re most welcome to “probe and point out logical inconsistencies.” But beyond a certain point, doesn’t that become a bit tiresome for you? Wouldn’t you rather zero in on the merits straightaway, rather than frankly weakening your argument by always beginning with some perceived inconsistency in my previous observations? Why does my consistency — or any human being’s consistency — matter that much to you? And honestly Jeff, do you really believe my single use of the word “slanderous” that grotesquely cheapens the public discourse — enough to make it your primary point? Am I really truly being that “inconsistent”? And by the way, did what Chris Matthews say bother you at all?

          Let me be as clear as possible. I am a conservative, with a handful of liberal beliefs and a tremendous affection for my liberal friends, including you. I generally prefer Republican candidates for office. Almost always in fact. I write a blog devoted frequently to political topics. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I will sound conservative and Republican. I know the sounds of conservatism and Republican are like fingernails on a chalkboard for you — but it’s who I am, how I write, and what my few readers, including many liberal ones, evidently don’t mind too much. Further unsurprisingly, given who I am, I will frequently have more sympathy for conservatives than liberals, and for Republicans over Democrats. That’s pretty natural, being a conservative and a Republican, don’t you think? You’re right, notwithstanding a bit of hero-worship in my childhood, I’m not Mr. Spock. So being a conservative and a Republican will yield a “bias” if you will. I try to keep that bias moderate and temperate. But yes, as I’ve freely admitted before on this blog, liberals make me madder than conservatives. Democrats make me madder than Republicans. And yes, it’s often easier for me to understand where a conservative saying something that sounds stupid might be coming from, not as easy if it’s a liberal saying something that sounds stupid. But my effort at moderation notwithstanding is not such a botch-job as you appear determined to portray it.

          Enjoy the game.

  6. Jeff says:

    Ken-

    Boy, that Chris Matthews is just way over the top!

    Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann recently accused President Obama of turning the United States into “a nation of slaves.”

    Limbaugh likens Democrats to murderers, rapists, and “this Muslim guy” that “offed his wife’s head”

    ”I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another, then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.” —Rep. Michele Bachmann , on the 1976 Swine Flu outbreak that happened when Gerald Ford was president, April 28, 2009

    ”I guarantee it’s one of their (Democrats) long-term goals, to have one sort of borderless mass continent.”—Kentucky GOP Senate nominee and Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, on the future of North America, May 25, 2010

    “I’m a Christian first, and a mean-spirited, bigoted conservative second, and don’t you ever forget it. You know who else was kind of “divisive” in terms of challenging the status quo and the powers-that-be of his day? Jesus Christ.”
    ― Ann Coulter,

    “We have an impostor for all intents and purposes serving in the White House,” Limbaugh said in 2009.

    http://www.aolnews.com/2010/07/13/obama-hitler-and-lenin-share-new-tea-party-billboard/

    Limbaugh: “[I]n Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering”

    Pat Buchanan: “This has been a country built, basically, by white folks”

    Boortz: People living in Katrina trailers, Section 8 housing and on welfare shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

    Boortz welfare rant — “human parasitic garbage lining up to get their applications to loot”

    Pat Robertson suggests “ultimate conclusion” of legal same-sex marriage is legal polygamy, bestiality, child molestation, pedophilia

    Quinn agrees with caller that Democrats “took over the country without firing a shot,” adds “so did Hitler”

    Savage: Obama “is a neo-marxist fascist dictator in the making”

    In CNBC host Cramer’s “U.S.S.A.”: “Comrade[]” Obama is a “Bolshevik” who is “taking cues from Lenin”

    Limbaugh: “Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate”

    Hannity suggests SCOTUS nominee will be “somebody extremely radical” since Obama’s policies have been “radically left” and “socialist”

    Dick Morris’ self-confessed conspiracy theory: Obama “wants his plan to fail…so that he can make the case for bank nationalization and vindicate his dream of a socialist economy”

    • Thanks for the list Jeff. I was sort of focused on something said last Tuesday, not all of the outrages in the past few years — but I take your point.

  7. Larry said it way better than I could have. The broad brush paints both sides. I suppose it’s easier to hate the other side when you buy into the stereotypes.

  8. Sedate Me says:

    Just as cable “news” does America a disservice by trafficking in slurs (& the trivial), these Republican debates, and the cable “news” over obsession with them, have done no favours for the Republican Party.

    There are several reasons for this, but the most relevant is that it has provided professional dung throwers like Chris Mathews the ability to negatively paint the party with “one broad brush” and not even have to put any effort into it. This time around, he’s basically just sitting there and collecting a pay-cheque. A few examples:

    A) When a big chunk of the audience cheers Perry’s execution stats during the question and before Perry says a single word to contextualize it, there is NO objective way for a casual observer to take that other than that Republicans love executions. First, you’re supposed to shut the hell up during questions, so that’s an indicator of the enthusiasm right there. Second, the cheering occurred before Perry could say anything regarding his actions, or a single word to support the concept of the Death Penalty. They weren’t cheering the policy as stated by Perry, they were literally cheering the body count attributed to him.

    If you’re one of the deluded folks who honestly think that it really is good policy for the state to kill people (Death Panels anyone?), fine. You withhold your reserved applause for the end of the answer. But if you love executions, you jump and scream at the mere mention of the word. Huge difference.

    B) The clown who giddily shouted “Let ’em die!” and the handful of jackasses who cheered it. (I think we found our first Death Panel!) Once again, during a supposedly serious debate for the Republican nomination for President of the US, audience members are cheering the death of a fellow human being. In this case, were weren’t even talking about killing killers. The question was about a fictitious case of a law abiding citizen tragically being caught without insurance and possibly dying as a result.

    Before Ron Paul could speak, some bozo eradicated whatever he was going to say by putting it in viewers’ heads that Republicans not just favour policies that result in people suffering & dying, but that they actually take pleasure in it. It’s what “liberty” is all about!

    I know that particular notion only reflects a small, mentally ill, percentage of party members. But they are loud, both literally and figuratively. However, a casual observer wouldn’t make that distinction and would credit that opinion to a much larger segment of the party than it represents.

    C Booing a gay soldier while he’s on active duty. Really? The party of “Support Our Troops” boos a troop on national TV because he’s an enemy of the Taliban, but a Friend of Dorothy. Once again, the maturity level of the so-called party of rational thinking rivals that of a Jerry Springer Show audience. And the “news” networks love it and want more because it sells.

    For anybody familiar with George Orwell’s 1984, the room bursting into angry boos was highly reminiscent of the daily Two Minutes Hate. The soldier’s face pops up on the viewscreen, and the audience boos on command. What better way to prove that you are bunch of brainwashed haters?

    I, like overwhelming majority of Americans, haven’t watched a minute of these debates. But, other than a few stammering brain lock-ups and a nasty exchange or two, these 3 examples are about all that has percolated out of these general wastes of airtime. Rightly or wrongly, this is what will lodge in the public consciousness and it doesn’t look good.

    This time around, you don’t need a dung-slinger like Mathews to push you toward these conclusions. Even if they don’t represent the Republican party’s attitudes on the subjects, these are the kinds of things that shape one’s mental image of a party….and a nation’s political discourse, for that matter.

    • Thanks for the thorough Republican whacking — but having conceded you didn’t watch any of the Republican debates, it strikes me as presumptuous to draw such shrill conclusions about what allegedly happened. I haven’t considered them a waste of air-time at all — quite the contrary, I’ve learned a great deal more about the candidates (good and bad) than I would have known, and I’ve been educated on some issues.

      Perhaps the most striking example of the importance of taking the time to watch the actual exchange, as opposed to believing what you read about it, if you intend to opine about it, is the booing of the gay solider incident. Here is the clip. Several items worth noting.

      First, it sounds like maybe two or three very loud very obnoxious guys in a room with hundreds. It most certainly was not “the room bursting into angry boos,” and it is reckless of you to so state, even more so to call it “highly reminiscent of the daily Two Minutes Hate” in Orwell’s 1984. Second, the obnoxious boos occurred at the end of the solider’s question, when he asked whether Rick Santorum intended to “circumvent the progress made” by gay soldiers in the military. That prompted a couple of boos — two sentences after the solider identified himself as gay, which prompted no boos. In other words, the booing — and make no mistake, I consider it obnoxious — seemed directed at the policy issue of repealing Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell, not the fact that the soldier was gay. Rick Santorum put precisely that issue in context when he answered the question by emphasizing that sex should never be an issue in the military, whether you’re heterosexual or homosexual, and it’s a bad policy to confer a special set of privileges on one group on the basis of sex. Now I happen to disagree with Mr. Santorum’s position, and I believe the repeal of DADT is a salutary development — but I don’t consider his position outrageous or beyond the pale. DADT was President Clinton’s policy, and it enjoyed substantial support from both parties for quite a while. So please, Sedate Me, stop the nonsense about tarring the entire Republican party as mindless booing haters of gay soldiers. That’s precisely the point of my post.

      Your example of “the clown who giddily shouted ‘Let ’em die!'” is similarly misleading — quite apart from precisely making my point about tarring an entire political party based upon a single “clown.” You really wouldn’t want to get me started about how we might tar the entire Democratic Party if that is your standard. (Here is a much earlier post touching on that subject.) In the debate you reference, Ron Paul was taking a question from Wolf Blitzer (here is the clip) about a hypothetical where a person decides not to pay for health insurance and then gets seriously ill. Blitzer’s question was “who’s going to pay for that?” It is Bliltzer, not anyone in the audience, who uses the phrase, “But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” — which is, by the way, an inept framing of the difficult policy question of universal coverage — at which point Ron Paul says, “no…” and some “clown” in the audience says “yeah!” Don’t you see how profoundly stupid it is to draw a conclusion about an entire political party from an exchange like that? Don’t you see how profoundly stupid it is, more to the point, to draw a conclusion about an entire political party based upon how left-wing spinners portrayed the exchange, as opposed to how it actually happened? Aren’t you tending to vindicate my point that the ugly mud-slingers tend to create “realities” that never happened — because evidently you relied only on the ugly mud-slinging spinners to form your belief as to what happened — as opposed to determining for yourself what happened.

      “These are the kinds of things that shape one’s mental image of a party.” Absolutely — when these “things” are filtered exclusively through leftist spinners exaggerating the significance of a tiny group of obnoxious and stupid outliers, sure. By that standard, the entire Democratic Party is a bunch of angry violent yahoos who wanted President Bush and Sarah Palin (“Republicunt,” their posters read) literally killed — shot in the head, bull’s-eyes and all, and who advocate the violent overthrow of the government and the capitalist system, and let’s kill the greedy Jews while we’re at it. You get my point. Ask yourself how “one’s mental image of a party” develops. Where does it come from? What are your sources? Did you check any Republican or conservative sources before you developed that mental image? Or did you simply accept the “mental image” of the Republican party cynically spoon-fed to you by liberals?

      Keep in mind, Sedate Me, we don’t have the good fortune of Democratic party debates this season. Moreover, we have more debates this cycle than ever before in American political history — and they happen to all be Republican debates because the Democrat is an incumbent. So we get to see the Republican party, warts and all, in a way that we won’t see the Democratic party for another four years. Let that qualify, at least a little, your notion of how “one’s mental image of a party” gets shaped.

      • Sedate Me says:

        Wow, did you ever miss my point. The main thrust of my comment was to AGREE with you that Republicans had been unfairly painted with a broad brush. Somehow, it seems that translated into me being one the mindless hoards of liberals spouting responses programmed by liberal propagandists. The only way that could be farther from the truth would be if I was one of the mindless conservative hoards spouting responses programmed by conservative propagandists. I didn’t watch it, or any of the spin. If you must know, I was actually in Germany the whole time guzzling fantastic beer and sausages like my life depended on it. My only contact with the debates was seeing clips in promos for the local news while watching the entertainment shows I taped. Yet, I still knew the proper context of the debates was lost.

        This was not due to me listening to liberal spin because I didn’t. It was due to the attention grabbing actions of a few idiots in the room who had no business saying a damn thing. (Although, the cheering of execution stats sounded pretty substantial.) It’s vital to note that this was a debate for the highest office in the land, not some angry street protest, or an episode of The Maury Show (although that’s what debates will soon resemble). These loudmouth tools belong more in Gitmo than a Presidential debate audience. (Why weren’t they at least tasered and “harshly interrogated”?) But 10,000 or 10, their misbehaviour stole most of the highlight reel footage and that’s all our twisted culture goes by. I doubt too many folks remember much about that Obama State Of The Nation Address other than that Congressional dolt shouting “You lie!”.

        What I’m saying is that all that counts is the impression left in the public’s puny little mind and those clowns in the audience probably counted for more than the ones on stage. The era where facts and context mattered is a distant memory that only nostalgic nerds who dress like they’re in a Jane Austin novel and write in “full sentences” remember.

        Whether they booed the gay soldier’s question or the gay soldier himself is completely irrelevant. (But every time a guy on a viewscreen gets booed, it always makes me think of 1984. Mind you, if you asked the Two Minute Haters, I’m sure they were “just booing Goldstein’s opinions”.) All that matters is that a gay soldier asking Commander Frothy a very legitimate policy question got booed. Also irrelevant is Ron Paul & Rick Perry’s actual answers to the actual questions, no matter how brilliant and moderate they were, or how evil the biased “gotcha” questions from liberal reporters were. The only way these outbursts could be knocked from memory would be if Ron Paul answered his healthcare question like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbB_HVcXpPk

        But no, it’s got to be spun so it’s the Leftist spinners’ fault that these dickwads made the party look bad by cheering the deaths of their fellow Americans. Without those Leftist spinners, everyone in America would know how intelligent, thoughtful, and well designed the policies of Republican candidates are. Then we could all hold hands together, skip to the Reagan Library, read Bedtime For Bonzo, take a nap and have wet dreams about trickle down economics.

        Maybe I should blame Rightist spinners for me knowing that somebody held up a sign accurately identifying Sarah Palin as a “Republicunt”. Because without them, I wouldn’t have heard about it and my vocabulary would be sorrily lacking. (Thanks for that, by the way. I look forward to using it.)

        You want to know my biased sources? I could have watched the debate live on the pinnacle of Leftist propaganda, FOX Noise. Even if I watched their spin, I expect those incidents would still comprise most of what I’d remember. My source for the incidents (and a few heated candidate exchanges) was the propagandist who said “watch this and more tonight on Action 7 News, right after Judge Judy”. No Lefty spin there. Just promotional spin trying to get me to watch their nightly parade of murders and car accidents that are oh-so clearly spun to fit their leftist political agenda. Because, as we all know, you can’t possibly think Left on anything without being tricked to by the biased liberal media, right? (OK, I’m reigning in the partisan snark now.)

        Here is the reality. The truth is that, just like me, the overwhelming majority of folks paid no attention to this debate and paid even less attention to the evil Leftist spin. Why? Because they just don’t give a shit. I know this is hard for the political warrior class to comprehend, but more people really are more interested in voting for American Idiot and Dancing With Washed Up Stars than voting for their President. I expect half won’t even bother to cast a ballot a year from now (repeat: a YEAR from now) and many that do will just be going through the motions. If the majority of Americans won’t care then, why would they care now, especially when none of these debates matter anyway? So the debates, and what Chris Mathews has to say about them, just don’t register and might as well never existed. They only exist in the small minority who pay attention, nearly all of whom have preconceived and unchangeable opinions anyway.

        The debates should matter, but they don’t. Unfortunately, the media covers politics as if it were a sporting event, complete with cheering crowds, to entertain fans of poly-sports. These premature debates are meant to give outfits like Google much needed exposure and “news” networks something to prattle on endlessly about instead of actually reporting news. All the pre/post -game blathering about stars, strategies & performances is designed to keep fans glued to their network, so they can sell them beer & soap during the breaks. (It seems, in order to get better ratings, the format also now encourages stand-up comedy and audience participation.) The media intends on milking this nonsense until everyone else in America wants to blow their brains out.

        Even though they’re not paying attention, I’m sure most people are already bored silly of the Republican nomination and we’re still (despite it being moved up) over 2 months away from Iowa determining a whopping 1% of the delegates. This kind of endless hype-imbalance murders any interest in the democratic process, even among many actually interested in the democratic process (example: me), and leaves the field to the partisan wankers who live to bukkake “the enemy”. What happens is that everybody else ignores as much as they possibly can and misses what little of any actual value occurs. Just like I did, the most they will absorb is the aforementioned highlight reel material that was dominated by those jackasses. All they achieved was talking over their own candidates and making dung throwers like Mathews redundant. Who needs Mathews when you’ve got Republican debate audiences throwing dung on themselves?

        Yes, I’d say the same thing to liberals ranting about how some kind of incident during this meaningless horse jockeying 2 years from the finish line is “so important”. And no, I wouldn’t be watching the Democratic debates at this point either for the exact same reason. The only thing a Democratic debate would have to offer me is less Right Wing claptrap and more hope-filled empty promises. It’s all just a bunch of bozos trying to talk the true believers into jumping into bed with them and leaving their money on the bedside table. I also think it’s a deformation of democracy that there is no Democratic race. Nobody is above being challenged and the voters need every option they can get.

        At this stage of the nomination process, only the offensive buffoonery has a chance at getting noticed. America (and the Republican party) would be much better served by “news” channels showing actual news and leaving the “Iowa Republican Debates” to actual Iowa Republicans. But that’s wishful thinking on my part.

        • If I missed your point, please accept my apology. But you have to admit, your points can be easy to miss at times — in part because you present as so conflicted. I don’t say that judgmentally because I probably share some of your cognitive dissonance. You’re the cheery depressive, the happy nihilist. You express the very deepest cynicism about politics and its players, yet you engage in protracted political analysis. And closer to home, you agree that Chris Matthews painted with a way overbroad brush — but then proceed to paint with your own broad brush with examples that were, in my opinion, misleading. But I don’t think we disagree about how frequently misleading images get writ large, or made into stories they’re not, or shouldn’t be. I think we do disagree about the worthlessness of the debates. The Big Bang Theory they’re not, but they are educational, as to issues and as to the candidates. I consider myself careful in my assessment of candidates, but my own views of the candidates have shifted considerably after watching the debates. True, not too many Americans tune in. I don’t even know the numbers, but I suspect they’re low. But I don’t believe that’s because the debates are worthless or because what the candidates are saying is a bunch of hooey. Americans are among the most politically apathetic people on the planet — but frankly, that’s because the actual ideological differences of the parties are quite narrow. By and large, they’ve made a political decision to accept whomever. They’re not bothered because they don’t believe they need to be. Which takes us back to your point about hype. Yep, political stories tend to be hyped because they’re usually not signifying a serious choice that most Americans believe they’re obliged to care about. So they have to be made into a bigger deal than they really are. Granting that, we part ways because you insist on taking that state of affairs as evidence of stupidity — stupid politicians, stupid voters, stupid media, stupidity everywhere. I don’t. I see a lot more intelligence than you do. I think you’re extremely intelligent, for example, but I think you’re making your political cynicism an ideological fetish.

  9. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    And nothing under the stars and sun is new here – the noises are as ugly as they’ve always been. We just hear it instantly and constantly. Not one party can take the high road. Each party has its minions spreading the perceptions around so that they become reality. A huge portion of the population relies on pundits and talk show hosts for their political positions. But, yes, Kendrick, hypocrisy doesn’t look good on anyone. The fact is, sad as it may be, most of us don’t have the time to read a balance of opposing opinions measured against the ones we hold. Personally, I don’t have the time to sort through the arguments to determine which more closely resembles the “truth.” I’m relying on analysts whom I assume to be credible. I don’t tune in to Maddow or Stewart or Colbert for news. I tune into Colbert for entertainment. That’s all I’ve got. You expect a lot from constituents, Kendrick. And how can you say which came first? The perception or the underlying belief about how people should be treated in this world? Do words form understanding? Or does cognition create the speech we hear? In the end, Kendrick, you will vote for a Republican – probably you always will. I’ll vote for a Democrat and probably always will. It’s not potatoes vs potahtohs. It’s fundamentally how we view the world.

    • I’m not really comfortable with the proposition that I expect a lot from constituents, or at least not in this context. I really don’t expect everyone to read a variety of news and opinions sources and do the hard work of sorting. I’m not even sure I expect people to read, period — though I would always gently urge more of it. I know people are busy, and many are barely interested in politics or current events in the first place. So yes, people rely on chosen filters. I just wish they’d choose these filters a little more carefully — and even failing that, harbor their derivative positions with a measure of modesty. “No screaming if you’re stupid” would be a tacky way of putting it, but you get my point. And back to the original point of this post, it doesn’t matter to me at all how widely people have read or watched — unless they are actively making certain kinds of claims they shouldn’t be making. Certain cynical abuses of rudimentary logic and fairness, like the one embraced by Chris Matthews (who is presumably well-informed), constitute misbehavior of a very basic sort, a kind of misbehavior that anyone can avoid, and anyone can condemn, regardless of how well-informed they are. (And by the way, in my opinion, Stewart would be a better source for “news” than many of the MSNBC commentators who pass for news analysts.)

      As to your question about the order of belief and language, you touch upon a subject that has fascinated me for a long time — how is it we come to believe what we believe in politics (or what could be called political epistemology), and what kinds of experiences could dislodge us from those beliefs. Or put another way, how set in stone are political beliefs, and does professional political discourse exist primarily to ensure that people continue feeling comfortable with their preconceived notions? For purposes of this post, I would simply hope that even liberals would recognize that Chris Matthews violated basic logic and fairness, without me having to point it out, just as my liberal friends would expect to recognize that [pick you favorite conservative demon] violated basic logic and fairness whenever he/she did so. I’m a conservative blogger, but obviously not the sort that any conservative would visit for the latest conservative red meat. I tend to be more an “interested referee” (yes, oxymoronic) — and the other side gets its interested referees on other blogs. And I tend to be especially protective of what Sedate Me called “the mental image” one forms of a party or a movement. I believe a lot of the “mental images” of conservatives, the Republican party and the Tea Party are derived from rudimentary violations of logic and fairness. And so I point it out. As you say, I’m a Republican and you’re a Democrat, likely indefinitely for both of us. But we can have these kinds of process and dialogue discussions, and I think that’s very healthy.

  10. Sedate Me says:

    how is it we come to believe what we believe in politics…and what kinds of experiences could dislodge us from those beliefs.

    My short answer is that belief in politics is a mental disorder, perhaps a genetic one, that can only be dislodged by ongoing rounds of “de-patterning”. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Psychic_driving

    Believe me, I’ve tried damn near everything short of Cameron’s therapy to get me disinterested in politics with virtually no results.

    how set in stone are political beliefs, and does professional political discourse exist primarily to ensure that people continue feeling comfortable with their preconceived notions?

    Modern technology is creating a world where everyone can & will live in their own impenetrable bubbles. They will be able to block out everything they don’t want to hear or participate in. There is no doubt in my mind that, now and increasingly so in the future, all political discourse will consist of feces throwing competitions and the re-affirmation of preconceived notions. Issues and scandals are just the excuse to engage in the above.

    More and more people will just tune it all out, even what little remains of plausibly professional journalism, if only because it means they have to occasionally use that mushy thing behind their eyeballs. As it stands, the random mood swings of small percentage of the population (the largely disinterest folks who still bother to vote) makes all the difference. Those involved in the process will continue to shrink as it gets harder and harder to stomach and fewer people are capable of understanding and influencing it. Those that remain will also get more (pun intended) committed and more intransigent. More anger. More gridlock. More bullshit.

    I believe a lot of the “mental images” of conservatives, the Republican party and the Tea Party are derived from rudimentary violations of logic and fairness.

    The mental images of most political movements are derived mostly from rudimentary violations of logic and fairness, if only because the press does such an inadequate job in general. There is, after all, only so much space to fill between stories of missing white girls and celebrities.

    But I’d dare to go one step further and say the Tea Baggers’ very own self-image is likewise derived on misrepresentation. These days, damn near everybody believes their own press, romanticizes their cause and fetishizes their ideology. Politics is has become more about nobilizing yourself than it is working to build a better society.

  11. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Uh, well, I’m going to agree with both Kendrick and SedateMe here – but first, Kendrick –

    “Does professional political discourse exist primarily to ensure that people continue feeling comfortable with their preconceived notions?”

    To that I say, sadly, yes. Is anything new during this political cycle being said after all? The discourse is intended to get votes – it certainly isn’t intended to prompt thoughtful discussion among the majority of people. People clapping at the debates is exactly a sign that people have attended them to hear their team say things they want to hear. We want reinforcement that our candidates haven’t gone off the deep end and started to say something reasonable, rational and independent.

    Kendrick, the majority of people won’t or can’t choose their filters more carefully. No one is taught critical thinking skills any longer in school, if they ever were. Group think is comfortable – we must belong to groups! We are largely all part of what SedateMe refers to as the “nobilizing” of ourselves and of individuals to represent us – and we’re expecting less and less from our leaders. What matters is that we’re heard and that our side wins. Wins. As though it’s a football game.

    We tune things out because we’re in overload, we can’t filter, we can’t determine fact from fiction.

    However, I don’t share SedateMe’s dystopian view of our political lives and our roles in it. (Frankly, I hope SedateMe doesn’t believe all of what he says, either. No matter what, I think he needs a hug.) I’m encouraged by the activism I’m seeing in this country – you may not appreciate the OWS, but they’re actively involved. Who knows where that may go? But I didn’t see this happen five or 10 years ago. For me, it means more than people carrying signs. It means that people still do care about the decisions being made that affect their lives.

    I can hope, can’t I?

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