With only fifteen months remaining until the election, the silly season of presidential politics is upon us already. (Woohoo!) And with a Republican field of candidates that spans the spectrum of merely-right-of-center candidate Jon Huntsman1 to the wonder-twins and ideological flag-wavers Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry — locked in a heated scramble to the far right, the first clutching a tea bag, the second a laser-sighted pistol — this race has all the makings of a poli-drama for the ages. Oh, and let us not forget  Sarah Palin,2 touring the political battleground states on her magical mystery bus. Also.

I’m awestruck already by the volume of brazenly stupid assertions being put forth throughout the GOP camp,3 and astonished at the audacity of the untruths. Politifact and FactCheck.org are going to be very, very busy this year. I wish only that their services were available in real-time, so that each time a politico made a false assertion a loud buzzer would sound — all game-show like. And for each truthful statement, a pleasant bell. I can almost hear it now…

“I’m running for president”. (Ding.)

“Evolution is a theory, son. It’s got holes in it.” (Buzz!)

“I was right when I said the debt ceiling shouldn’t be raised.” (Buzz!)

“The country’s bankrupt. (Buzz!)

“We’re inches from no longer having a free-market economy.” (BUZZ!)

Better still, perhaps we could have John Scalzi moderate our national political debate. After a flurry of comments surrounding a post with a political bent, John posted the following on his site (this is an excerpt…go to his place to get all the goods.):

Notes on Arguing

1. One is entitled to one’s own opinions, but not one’s own facts. Commensurately, anecdote may be fact (it happened to you), but anecdote is usually a poor platform for general assertions, since one’s own experience is often not a general experience.

2. If you make an assertion that implies a factual basis, it is entirely proper that others may ask you to back up these assertions with facts, or at least data, beyond the anecdotal.

3. If you cannot bolster said assertion with facts, or at least data, beyond the anecdotal, you have to accept that others may not find your general argument persuasive.

4. This dynamic of people asking for facts, or at least data, beyond the anecdotal, is in itself non-partisan; implications otherwise are a form of ad hominem argument which is generally not relevant to the discussion at hand.

5. If you offer evidence and assert it as fact, you may reasonably expect others to examine such information and to rebut you if they find it wanting and/or find your interpretation incorrect in some manner.

I’d love to see this list in the gripped fist of every news reporter, anchor, political commentator, pundit, spokesman, spinmeister and editorialist. Most of all, I wish the candidates would just dispense with the bullshit, already.

  1. Pity the traditional, center-right republican, unwilling to turn his back on scientific consensus sourrounding climate change, and not foolish enough to dismiss evolution. This, in today’s Republican party, is very nearly admitting to Socialism. []
  2. Not that she’d let us. []
  3. I could assert that I’m astonished by the stupid on both sides, but that would be untrue. The stupid I see from the Democratic camp I have come to wholly expect. []

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