Epilogue—Why we’re so pitifully clueless: At the start of the last GOP debate, Gilbert Fidler of Gilbert, Arizona asked a perfectly sensible question.
The honor was granted by CNN’s John King, who plays a journalist on TV. Here’s what occurred at the start of that final debate, which King pretended to moderate:
KING (2/22/12): Gentlemen, it's good to see you again. Let's get right started on the important issues with a question from our audience. Sir, please tell us who you are and state your question.That was a perfectly sensible question. The good sense ended right there.
FIDLER: My name is Gilbert Fidler from Gilbert, Arizona. And I'd like to ask this question to all the candidates if I could:
Since the first time in 65 years our national debt exceeds our gross national product, what are you going to do to bring down the debt?
According to several major studies, the three major candidates have all proposed budget plans which would massively swell our annual deficits and with them our national debt. Despite these proposals, they carp and complain about that rising debt.
But how strange! In the four prior GOP debates, no questions were asked about this remarkable state of affairs! No questions, as in none!
Now, Gilbert Fidler asked a good question—and John King hid under the bed.
In the lengthy segment which ensued, the candidates pretended to stage a discussion of Fidler’s perfectly sensible question. In fact, they did nothing of the kind—and King didn’t make the slightest attempt to bring them back to that question.
Did Fidler understand the way he and his question were toyed with that evening? We have no idea. But this is completely standard behavior as the press corps pretends to conduct a national discourse.
More reprehensible is the reaction from some of our “liberal” preserves.
We’ll take a guess: Fidler isn’t a budget expert. (We aren’t budget experts either.) He isn’t an economics professor. Neither are we over here.
Fidler isn’t a budget expert. On the other hand, he has heard a lot of talk about our ballooning national debt. We’ll guess that he is sincerely concerned, as well he might be.
Another guess: He probably doesn’t know that people like King and Santorum and Romney are not sincere or concerned.
Just a guess: He may not know that his sensible question was used to stage a Potemkin discussion. More reprehensible was the reaction from some of our “liberal” preserves.
We’ll guess that Fidler is a perfectly decent person with a sincere concern—a sincere concern he may have formed from following pseudo-conservative sources. But you may not know that such people exist if you read our “liberal” blogs. Four days after Fidler posed his question, a self-assured liberal rube at a leading blog presented this view of the world:
ATKINS (2/26/12): Most of time I think of conservative leaders as evil geniuses more than abject fools. Their voting base are generally oppressed rubes, delusional ideologues, racists or vicious sociopaths, but the leadership is generally very smart and cagey.We know, we know! He used the word “generally!” And in a moment of excessive kindness, young Atkins might be willing to classify Fidler as one of the “oppressed rubes.”
Adding to the general hilarity, Atkins’ patron offered this post on the very same day—a post in which she helped us learn to admire those of us in our own tribe.
“Educated liberals are different [from educated conservatives] and tend to be open to new information and more flexible of mind,” she wrote, basing her statement on the planet’s most limited data. “The simple rule is this,” she self-admiringly continued. “If you want to persuade liberals of something, bring out the charts and spreadsheets. If you want to persuade conservatives of something, make them identify emotionally with what you want them to believe.”
In fairness, we’ll agree with that one key word: “simple.”
For decades, a certain process has defined our pseudo-national discourse. Pseudo-conservative corporate shills have flooded the nation with disinformation. To the extent that we liberals have managed to notice, we have mainly tended to name-call the folk who believe this unrefuted garbage.
We haven’t done a very good job refuting these mountains of disinformation; for the most part, we haven’t tried. It never even enters our heads to establish forums in which we attempt to speak to people like Fidler.
Darlings! Speak with those people? It just isn’t done!
John King played the corporate fool in last Wednesday’s final debate. And sure enough! Out in the wider world, an irate and bumptious young fellow name-called people like Fidler!
Question: Have you seen a single liberal comment on King’s performance at that final debate? Have you seen a single liberal comment on a remarkable fact—the fact that no one asked these damn-fool candidates a single question about their budget proposals in the previous four debates?
In fact, your career liberal leaders will never name-call the millionaire "journalist" King. Darlings! In the world of journalistic careers, it simply isn’t done! And uh-oh! The rest of us liberals tend to play ditto-head to our “leaders” just the way Rush’s crowd does!
The people than whom we’re much smarter!
Fidler seemed to be the one sane person at that final GOP debate. David Atkins quickly rose to put such folk in their place. Meanwhile, Digby helped us see how much smarter we liberals are. Go ahead! Laugh out loud!
The process has worked this way for decades. Are you happy with how things turned out?