Cynicsm for Fun and Profit

Glenn Greenwald is discussing the stunning hypocrisy of Republicans, as they decry the viciously partisan Democrats for outing a gay Republican—ostensibly because dragging personal sexual conduct into politics will drive good people from governance.

Color me cynical, but why is this such a shock? This is the same crowd that spent a large chunk of 1992 decrying Clinton’s admission that he was too stupid to use a weed bong in 1968—and then turned right around and claimed that Bush’s arrest for driving under the influence of cocaine in 1979 was OK because he later claimed to have found Jeebus.

I mean, come on. Clinton says he almost smoked weed (“It was Joe’s weed, Dad, and I didn’t even inhale!” followed by the sheepish pseudo-boasts to friends later “…but I wish I had!”), and gets trounced as completely incapable of being President. Bush did coke often enough to get arrested for it, but that’s different, because (like most stunning hypocrites and assholes) he played the Repentence Card with the Jesus Enhancement (+5).

Meanwhile, the Democrats didn’t really say much about Bush’s coke usage, because they had previously defended Clinton exactly the same way that the Republicans were defending Bush. The Democrats had shame (albeit misplaced—coke is a hard drug, weed isn’t) and the Republicans had none.

Of course, for that to play a part in the elections, people have to remember what happened more than a month ago, and let that knowledge affect their decisions. Which is what the Republicans appear to be counting on their followers skipping this time around as well.

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3 thoughts on “Cynicsm for Fun and Profit

  1. You make an interesting point about longevity of memory…
    and those who forget the mistakes of the past…
    well, you know how that goes.

    I’m not sure if the drug itself is what makes the difference, or if it’s more the circumstance… there is a poignant difference between youthful indiscretion and a hard core addiction. Rare indeed are the potheads who will hurt someone to get a fix, but the crazed junkie is common enough that its become a stereotype. Potheads build things; junkies break things.

    I must confess a stunning disbelief when I see this kind of thing in action; you are exactly right, it’s as if anything that happened more than two months ago never happened.

    So…how do we jog their memories? How do we justify ethics with the need to win? At what point does it become okay for the blue team to play smear tactics like the red team does? Bah.

  2. Jogging memory is really the job of the news media. In opposition lies the profit motive, which tries to squeeze out as much information in favor of entertainment as it can; reporter’s self-censorship, such as the NYT refusing to publish information about various illegal programs lest it “influence the election”—because, ya know, an informed public is disastrous for democracy—and career consequences for not self-censoring, such as losing out on all future interviews if you remind people of inconvenient historical fact.

    In short, any news media that reports reality and conducts in-depth analysis will be destroyed if it attempts to operate as a for-profit entity.

    Eliminating ethics means you eliminate the entire reason to fight—it’s the same grotesque calculus as torturing for liberation. Smear tactics—such as Edwards’ “CHENEY’S GAY DAUGHTER” display at the VP debates—are usually counter-productive anyways, because it’s a transparent smear when Democrats do it. Republicans, on the other hand, have convinced everyone they are crazy enough to believe the shit they spew.

    That said, anger is not a smear tactic.

  3. Noted, that anger does not constitute smear tactics.

    I think you addressed the point rather well; people who are likely to notice Democratic campaigns at all are more likely, it seems to me, to think that smear tactics are for jerks. There’s this thing my masscomms professor was talking about, selective processing… The basic idea is that once you have a mindset, you’re more likely only to assimilate that information which already coincides with your mindset. It’s as if the species has this tendency to be blind to opinions that don’t agree with their own, or, in other words, to ignore cognitive dissonance instead of resolving it. So rather than seeing unfair tactics as what they are, some people are busy assimilating the artificial content, to reinforce the existing belief. …suckers.

    I think you nailed it on the head; as long as journalism is motivated by the bottom line, it’s going to remain a flawed institution. A press operating in fear and greed is hardly free. So if the media institutions are not accountable to the public beyond the dollar, where’s their impetus to behave honorably? If speaking the truth serves them not, what motivation besides dedication to truth itself impells them? If the media’s purpose is about writing to make the most money, why aren’t they calling it marketing?

    Enough yeahyeahs; riddle me this:
    How can anger be made into an effective tool for change?
    Despair, solving nothing, begs the question; if not despair, then what?
    And how?

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