Barack Obama, when campaigning in 2008, said “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody”, and I thought the citizenry would be turned off by such patently unAmerican, socialist-tinged language, but he went on to be elected president.
Nancy Pelosi said of a 2700 page bill taking over a sixth of the economy, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it”, forfeiting any pretense of seriousness or careful deliberation. And after that I thought the whole bill would go up in smoke, but Obamacare still passed.
Harry Reid, in response to a Republican budget that attempted to impose some restraint on an out-of-control national deficit, said of one particular spending cut, “Had [the Cowboy Poetry Festival] not been around, tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist”, and I thought the big spending liberal parody mixed with farcical phrasing would make Reid a laughingstock, but he has remained Senate Majority Leader.
Barack Obama, campaigning in 2012, mocked entrepreneurs’ self-regard, and of the businesses they poured their blood, sweat, and tears into, he said “you didn’t build that!” And I thought the American people, already discouraged by the poor economy he’d presided over, would finally realize the disdain the president has for self-reliance and earned success, but Obama won reelection.
Joe Biden, also on the 2012 campaign trail, said (in a southern twang to a majority black audience) that Republicans “are gonna put ya’ll back in chains!” I thought the gratuitous exploitation of racial tensions and disgusting insult of almost half the country, by the man a heartbeat away from the presidency, would offend the electorate’s sensibilities. But a potential Biden 2016 run at the presidency is still considered a realistic possibility.
Hillary Clinton, finally being made to answer questions about the debacle in Benghazi that led to the death of an ambassador and three others, exasperatedly said in response to a question about what caused the attack, “What difference, at this point, does it make?!” And I thought her callous, pathetic, nonsensical response, which she contradicted with her very next sentence, would… nah… by then I knew the press would find a way to cheer her outburst, and her immense popularity and 2016 presidential prospects would not be damaged.
Todd Akin, a barely known Republican Congressmen who had just squeaked out a win in a three way Senate primary race, made offensive and scientifically illiterate comments about rape and abortion. Republicans immediately denounced his idiocy and attempted to excommunicate him from the party. Yet that did not stop the media from claiming Akin’s stupidity was representative of the entire Republican party. Even some Republicans accepted the premise that foot-in-mouth disease was endemic to the GOP.
And it’s tempting to believe that the election results are proof that this perception is true. But then I think of Andrew Sullivan spending over a year obsessively and creepily investigating the origin of Sarah Palin’s youngest child, or all the Democrats over the years who have figuratively (or perhaps literally, who knows) kissed the feet of the Communist tyrant Fidel Castro, or the recent Democratic Congressmen who came out in favor of minting a trillion dollar coin to solve the deficit problem. Or I think of the five most prominent Democrats – Obama, Biden, Reid, Pelosi, and Clinton – and the absurd lines they’ve uttered over the last four years with no affect on their or the Democratic Party’s credibility. They can literally say anything at this point, and it doesn’t seem to matter.
And I think… the game is fixed, now more than ever. Conservatives and Republicans need to figure out a way to play it differently.
How? There’s no obvious, surefire answer, but when the populace can’t see the stupid for the trees, education might be the best place to start.