Mitch Daniels has declared he is not running for president next year. This is significant, because IMO of all the Republican possibilities he has the most potential to appeal to independents. Now their most viable candidate is named Tim.
One party, the Democrats, suffers from the usual range of institutional blind spots, historical foibles, and constituency-driven evasions. The other, the Republicans, has moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.
Like the White Queen in her youth, the contemporary Republican politician must be capable of believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Foremost among these is the claim that it is possible to balance the federal budget without raising taxes.
Of course, Republicans have been either crazy or flirting with crazy for many years, as John Quiggin notes. What has changed is that some elements of mainstream media are finally admitting this, Quiggin says.
Quiggen argues that recent events, notably the timing of the release of the President’s long-form birth certificate (just as birtherism was reaching a genuine frenzy) and the killing of Osama bin Laden (followed by Republican insistence that torture had made that possible) has caused the political press to create a new narrative frame in which Republican = crazy. And, of course, once they begin to view events through that frame, suddenly they see evidence everywhere.
Quiggin also notes that the press itself is finally dividing between the “pro-reality” press and the “anti-reality” press, a.k.a. the “Murdoch press.” And open admission that a chunk of the political mainstream is, actually, nuts, changes the very nature of political reporting.
The real problem is that such a shift will mean the end of what has been a united front of the journalism profession against everyone else (most obviously bloggers and other outside competitors). This front was seen in operation when the Obama Administration tried, early on, to take a stand against Fox and was threatened with a general boycott. Objections to Fox lies were seen as a political attack on the press as an institution. Of course, the political right has long had it both ways, exploiting mainstream adherence to conventions of balance and â€˜objectivityâ€™ (not to be confused with willingness to state objective facts as such), while disregarding these conventions.
Quiggin thinks the pro-reality press will inevitably gain the upper hand, and we’ll see about that. He continues,
A pro-reality journalism will inevitably be hostile to the Republican party and its intellectual apparatus, but that doesnâ€™t mean it should fall into the trap of reflexive support for the Democrats. The point is to report the truth, and report lies as lies, without falling into the equal and opposite traps of â€˜balanceâ€™ and partisan loyalty. …
… Nevertheless, the political consequences of a shift to reality-based journalism wonâ€™t be entirely beneficial. The delusions on which the Republicans rely are a cover for the class interests of the very rich, and for the tribal loyalties and hatreds of their base. Blowing the cover may well produce an even cruder politics of interests and tribalism.