Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Scandal Chasing (a look at the pettiness of politics in these great United States of America)

Scandal chasing, or, perhaps, more appropriately titled, a look at the pettiness of politics in these great United States.

Back during the election, a veritable eternity ago, or so it seems, the pettiness was best exemplified by latching onto small phrases or ideas, and blowing them out of all proportion until they lost any relevance and simply became empty shells of an argument. Enter Big Bird, and the ten thousand “Mitt Romney's going to hunt/kill/cook Big Bird” memes that followed (perhaps one of the better reasons for voting Romney: so that'd be the last we heard of that fracking bird). Sometimes the phrases had to be cut out of all context and utterly misrepresented to be truly interesting. Witness the “we built that” campaign, that, hilariously, featured a bunch of people who didn't “build that”, leastwise not all on their pulling-themselves-up-by-the-bootstraps, hardworking, non-moocher-y own (which was the entire point).

But the election's over, and we're back to regular politics. Whew.

Which is probably the precise sentiment the unspecified critter, jumping from the frying pan to the fire, felt, at exactly the moment of its leap. “Finally! Wait, you mean...” Or, as this guy put it...


The point is, sanity wasn't returned. Far from it. Sanity and American politics are not just going through a rough patch, they're separated. And seeing other people.

There was Benghazi, although, in fairness, that fling started during the election. In fact, it gave rise to one of those moments of absurdity that I was talking about earlier. Who can forget the outrage that arose when Candy Crowley had the audacity to insert fact into the mature spectacle of two grown men, each competing to be president of the United States, engaged in such thoughtful dialog?

“Did not.”
“Did too.”
“Did not!”
“Did so!” *

The horror of it all. But Mitt Romney's quibbling over semantics didn't “shut that whole thing down”; no sir. Politically speaking, scandals (in the enemy's camp) are a gift from God; and, in the spirit of Rick Santorum, the GOP wasn't looking to abort that blessing any time soon. So it's back again.
Now, I'm not saying there weren't any good questions to be asked. But no one's asking them. Our esteemed leaders were too busy alternatively trying to launch preemptive strikes against a 2016 Hillary run, while touting their own America-loving, how-dare-those-damned-liberals-not-stop-this, don't-ask-about-embassy-funding-because-we-sort-of-cut-it bona fides, or trying to land themselves a place in the Hillary administration (seriously, check out the Benghazi hearing footage; it's laughable). That wasn't enough, though. It didn't end with all the grandstanding, all the prevarications, all the self-serving chatter meant to boost individual careers. No sir. Then we got the fake emails. And the fundraising, because they care about dead Americans. And all the “oh my god, they're covering *something* up”. That became “maybe they're covering something up”. This particular line seems to be on the downswing (for now?), though. I guess it doesn't do much to boost your credibility when the scandalous part of your scandal is that you're lying to make up a scandal.

But, for the absurdity junkie, there's bigger and badder scandals to be had. Benghazi really just pales in comparison to, say, my favorite: “umbrellagate”. The president asked two marines to hold umbrellas, in much the same way berets and others have held umbrellas over past presidents. Now, you might be wondering why it's a scandal (when both dress codes forbid males to do so) when Obama does it, but not when other presidents do it. It's definitely not racism, as Michelle Malkin's site is eager to point out; calling the president a “MONKEY”, lamenting that he likes “being served on by two white servicemen”, that “King Barry uses cracker Marine”, etc., is totally, absolutely not racist. So if it's not a big deal when other presidents do it, just this president, and it has nothing to do with all that “white servicemen” being “use[d]” stuff, what, oh what, could it be? Well, maybe it's just that most Americans hold their own umbrellas. Not Sarah Palin, and not other presidents. But most Americans. And, damn it, if Obama wasn't such an elitist “SATAN CLOWN”**, he'd act like most Americans! So there you have it. Scandal.

So what I'm getting at, really, is that absurdity is alive and well -- thriving, really -- in today's political climate. I don't know if we've actually reached an all time low in pettiness and stupidity (the Dan Quayle “potatoe” thing stands out as an enduring low). But sometimes, every once in awhile, I see something so stupid that I can't help but think, “that's it...we've sunk as far as we can go.”

And then, some obliging politician, political commentator, or partisan asshat kindly proves me wrong. Everybody's eager to find a scandal, to get the scoop (looking at you, CNN. And ABC. And...), or to drive up viewers by whatever dishonest means necessary (we call it, Fox News). But at the end of the day, what gets done? What gets resolved? What improves? Nothing.

But the good news? We'll be back to the frying pan, in just a few years. Not that it'll be better, but different at least. And, at this point, variety seems to be the best we can hope for.

* More of a recording of the spirit of the exchange than the actual words. Not a direct quote. And still more accurate than Jonathon Karl's reporting.

** Spelling corrected. Original listed him as a “SANTA CLOWN”. Which is even more amusing, really.

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