The British Mirror ran with this hilarious and provocative post election headline
Now Bob Herbert at the New York Times has come up with some data to back-up the Mirror’s ballsy headline.
I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election’s outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush’s supporters believe the U.S. has come up with “clear evidence” that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president’s supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.
This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.
The survey, and an accompanying report, showed that there’s a fair amount of cluelessness in the ranks of the values crowd. The report said, “It is clear that supporters of the president are more likely to have misperceptions than those who oppose him.”
Although Herbert argues that this type of ignorance is more of a factor than “the values” vote, the two are pretty intimately connected. It is the self referential religious rhetoric of fundamentalism that cocoons its adherents in a world view that is impermeable to facts. Herbert goes on to provide a frightening example of just such rhetoric from Frank Pastore, a former major league pitcher who is now a host on the Christian talk-radio station KKLA. In an op-ed for the LA Times he wrote:
“Christians, in politics as in evangelism,” said Mr. Pastore, “are not against people or the world. But we are against false ideas that hold good people captive. On Tuesday, this nation rejected liberalism, primarily because liberalism has been taken captive by the left. Since 1968, the left has taken millions captive, and we must help those Democrats who truly want to be free to actually break free of this evil ideology.”
Mr. Pastore goes on to exhort Christian conservatives to reject any and all voices that might urge them “to compromise with the vanquished.” How’s that for values?
This is not balance or objectivity, it is bizarre, psuedo-mystical, nonsense that has no place in the pages of a paper like the LA Times.
Herbert makes a key point in this debate, which I have not seen made by many others:
All values are not created equal. Some Democrats are casting covetous eyes on voters whose values, in many cases, are frankly repellent. Does it make sense for the progressive elements in our society to undermine their own deeply held beliefs in tolerance, fairness and justice in an effort to embrace those who deliberately seek to divide?
The rhetoric of objectivity in journalism is supposed to ensure debate and the free flow of ideas. What seems to be happening instead is that balance is being turned into a polarising tool by ideologues who have an immovable, faith-based position which they want to impose. They are not interested in balance, objectivity or facts, they will not “compromise with the vanquished,” yet they skillfully turn the rhetoric of objectivity against the “elite liberal media” so they get a chance to preach crap from the op-ed pages.