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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!” (1)

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 really 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”(2), 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.

(1) 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.

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

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Originally posted to Rachels Hobbit Hole (on Daily Kos) on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That was enjoyable reading. (7+ / 0-)

    Around 5 years ago I started looking into random tales I was hearing that sounded like politcal urban myths.  It became like a job and it changed me.  I could easily write a book, not that anyone would be interested in reading it.  

    I'd say half of Americans go through life without any engagement in the political system.  Some of them may vote but most political discourse is in one ear, out the other.  They may be the smartest of us all.

    I was drawn in through my work and I've seen enough to draw some conclusions.  Some people don't like to hear what I have to say because it sounds too opinionated.

    Scandal chasing isn't really new. Everyone remembers Whitewater.  How about the White House Travel Office?
    What we have today is in a different category.  Fast n Furious is a good example and a dangerous precedent.  Using bits of factual information, a complicated propaganda piece was fabricated and delivered to the public via rightwing media outlets, and it was also escalated to members of Congress who turned it into an investigation.  The Attorney General was held in contempt of Congress.  What was the outcome?  Where are the findings?  

    It doesn't matter because it served its purpose.  The rule of law was undermined.  The effect on government was corrosive enough.  In the absence of real scandals, the long game called Government is the Problem steadily eats away at the system.  

    How this is able to continue is obvious.  The anti government nihilist interest knows that it can use the system against the people.  Sounds ridiculous until you ponder the debt ceiling.  Like a cartoon vilain, the GOP majority in the House holds the threat of default over the heads of the public.  They have a weapon they can use to force Americans to consent to almost anything and all they've done is test it a bit since 2011.   Did the founders ever intend for Congress to have a power like that to use against the people?  No.

    I'll stop there.

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Wed May 22, 2013 at 09:04:40 PM PDT

    •  Well said, (0+ / 0-)

      I would only add that part of the reason that repubs generally and the house specifically feel empowered to run the country into the ground in pursuit of increasing pettiness is that they have an entire insular right wing media to feed.

      The right wing media is never satisfied. It demands more and more. There is nothing too extreme, only too mild. It is self-defeating in nominating unelectable candidates in primaries. It is also self defeating for the country as a whole b/c they are not afraid to burn the village to save it.

      Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick. Message to Repug Fundies: "DO you really wonder "what would Jesus do?" I didn't think so.

      by 4CasandChlo on Thu May 23, 2013 at 02:46:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You can take comfort in the reality that the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rachel191, NancyWH

    French are wondering who all the President's wife slept with and the Germans wondering about a uniform Ms Merkel wore in 1972.

  •  I was hoping you'd assign blame (0+ / 0-)

    You're describing a historical process, inasmuch as this is about change over time. There's causation involved. This didn't just happen, someone or something made it happen.

    Now, you're not writing for, say, the Washington Post here. this is a political blog. You're allowed to name the people and/or the institutions involved. I know who I blame for this, and I'm wondering who or what you blame.

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Columbine, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston (h/t Charles Pierce)

    by Dave in Northridge on Thu May 23, 2013 at 06:14:26 AM PDT

  •  Here comes another midterm election (0+ / 0-)

    While the Democrat Establishment, individually and collectively,  has been doing pretty much everything in it's power to bore, ignore and disillusion it's Base ... the Repubs have been doing everything in THEIRS to fire up theirs ... and  bogus scandals are a useful tool for energizing useful idiots.

    Metaphorically here's how it works:

    Every social worker knows that in an abusive home environment, one parent  (almost always the father) is the Abuser .. the other parent is the Enabler.

    So which parent is "fit" to retain custody ?

    I vote because it's a long standing habit ... I'm self-employed -- and because I don't have to wait 4 hours in the rain to cast a ballot.  

    Of course, I live in a  solidly Republican CD.

  •  Time to get to work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've spent a lifetime working hard. I haven't had 3 consecutive weeks off from school, work, or the military since I turned 15, and that was 49 years ago. My area of expertise is that of a trouble shooter... a problem solver. I am paid to quickly analyze a situation and affect a fix so that others can get on with the business at hand.

    I expect nothing less from my elected representatives. That is, I pay their exorbitant salaries from my meager income so that they can go to D.C. and work hard at solving the nation's problems. Instead, we now have a group of individuals who are only interested in representing the interests of a small minority by playing a constant game of "gotcha".

     In 1994, Newt and the repubs were successful at taking control of Congress by presenting a slate of programs (the Contract With America) and painting the dems as ultimately standing for nothing other than getting reelected. If the progressives hope to eventually wrench control of the House from the greedy hands of conservative wing nuts, they are going to have to do the same thing. Let's start now by proudly putting forth the progressive agenda and continually referring to the "do nothing Congress" and labeling the repubs as "ultimately standing for nothing except for caring about the 1% and getting themselves reelected".

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