31 10 / 2012
As I write this, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a reasonable chance at winning the presidency. He is not favored - models and markets from Vegas to FiveThirtyEight all have him as the underdog - but there remains a not-insignificant chance that he will be the next President.
This is a failure of our political media.
To be sure, there are others at fault: President Obama himself gave Gov. Romney a huge boost when he failed to show up for the first debate. An uninspiring economic status quo is always a drag on the incumbent’s chances. And voters - notoriously unsophisticated in their consumption of politics - certainly share the blame for the campaign we’ve endured.
But the notion that a campaign so cynical in its strategy and so shameless in its tactics is within reach of the presidency is, chiefly, a product of a political media too timid and too easily distracted.
Early on, the Romney campaign embraced the idea that the media will eventually get bored with a story and move on:
It’s worked on tax returns: Though Romney shrouding himself and his finances more than any recent presidential candidate, even directly contradicting a tradition his father started, the media gave up and moved on. There remains, now, no “controversy” over his tax returns. The political pundits and media outlets who cared so intensely about these documents for a month or so have given up and accepted a new, secretive normal. We’re only now getting a possible glimpse at the loopholes he’s been exploiting.
It’s worked on welfare: Despite repeated debunkings, the Romney campaign is still using the lie that President Obama “gutted welfare reform.” After being labeled as false back in August, the campaign simply waited before quietly reviving it the final week.
It’s worked on the auto bailout: Romney has desperately tried to get away from his opposition to the auto bailout, and he’s done it in various ways (including, oddly, taking credit for it). But most recently, he has embraced a lie that Jeep is moving American jobs to China. The claim, though false and debunked, has been expanded into radio and TV ads in Ohio.
It’s worked on his tax plan: Romney’s campaign has offered almost no policy specifics. The closest the former governor has come to laying out a vision is his tax plan. But the numbers simply don’t add up. Romney has not addressed this: when confronted, as at the first debate, he simply denies the truth. And yet the media has moved on again.
The campaign - as reported - has done almost nothing to tell us what type of president he would be. What is more distressing, though, is that an element of the media that is now saying something even stranger: ignore his campaign statements entirely.
Let me elaborate on that point.
The best case for a Romney presidency requires us to believe that he has been lying for the past five years. And yet, as Dave Weigel has noted, many newspaper editorial boards have gladly embraced this idea and "stop the clock on Romney’s ‘real’ beliefs in 2006, and they restart it on Oct. 3." In this telling, Romney’s absurd, severely-conservative positions are just useful lies that he needed to win the nomination. They are not anything to worry about, they are simply the price he had to pay to be the Republican nominee.
Ignore everything he has said since he started running for president, they tell us, if you want to know what type of president he will be.
This is a disturbing assertion. We must elevate a serial liar to the highest office before we know how he will govern?
But our media isn’t worried about any of this: they focus, as always, on the horse race coverage - while ignoring the fact that Mitt Romney has not crossed the previously-used standard of acceptability. They analyze Romney’s flip-flops as an electoral strategy, but never stop to consider the most basic idea:
If a party requires its nominees to deviate so far from acceptable policy prescriptions, basic math, and reality itself, shouldn’t we question the wisdom of putting that party in power?
11 4 / 2012
American money, as much as we all love it, can be pretty dull. Other currencies are so much more colorful - this is why we spend it like Monopoly money when we travel to a new country.
Anyway, the point is…this is probably the best headline ever.
New quarter features glow-in-the-dark Alberta dinosaur
Somebody get me one of these. I’ll pay you a dollar for it!*
You can read more here.
*They are retailing for $29.95
29 2 / 2012
A giant insect thought to be extinct is rediscovered on an isolated, swear-to-God-this-isn’t-photoshop mountain island.
The insect, nicknamed a “tree lobster,” is from another island about 13 miles away, and was wiped out there by rats. Somehow, a small population has quietly endured at the top of this mountain.
They’re pretty freaky looking, but this article is definitely worth a read.