The ongoing disintegration of our political culture!


Callista’s clothing and Romney’s religion—and his KKK ties: We the people are almost impossibly dumb—impossibly dumb and sometimes quite venal.

In many ways, these facts were hidden in the past. But the democratization of media have made these facts increasingly obvious. Three quick examples:

Callista’s clothes: Robin Givhan may be a good fashion writer; about that, we have no idea. The problem has always started when she writes about the clothing of politicians.

She used to churn this bilge for the Washington Post. Now, she offers her musings for the Daily Beast.

Click here for her latest report: “Newt Gingrich's Wife Callista's Prissy Style Problem.” (We think that headline is written in English.) A culture which keeps rewarding this bilge is impossibly dumb. Here’s a classic example:
GIVHAN (12/12/11): The unspoken rule of political style: do not tempt audiences into pondering how much mirror time one requires—or indulges in—on a daily basis. Already, media estimates have put Mrs. Gingrich’s hair-care time at anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes a day.

Callista made us do it! A culture which tolerates this bilge is just impossibly dumb.

Romney’s KKK ties: On Wednesday evening, it fell to Chris to voice the on-air apology. Just to be clear, he was apologizing for someone else’s pitiful work:
MATTHEWS (12/14/11): We’re back.

During the 11:00 a.m. hour on MSNBC today, we reported on a blog item that compared a phrase used by the Romney campaign to one used by the KKK way back in the 1920s. It was irresponsible and incendiary of us to do this, and it showed an appalling lack of judgment.

We apologize, we really do, to the Romney campaign.
For the full story, see this post by Brian Stelter. But here’s the key: Read the comments to see how impossibly dumb some folk have become on our side.

Chasing the Mormon:
We liberals like to cluck about the other tribe’s intolerance. Is it our imagination, or has our side begun to slide toward Mormon-bashing too?

After last weekend’s Republican debate, all the airheads clucked and wailed about Mitt Romney’s proffered bet. (It was the latest official distraction.) By Monday evening, Lawrence O’Donnell had started to toy with the Mormon too:
O’DONNELL (12/12/11): Do you know who else is not supposed to be in the betting business? Devout Mormon Mitt Romney. In the gospel topics section of the official Web site of the Mormon Church, the faithful are taught about gambling.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is opposed to gambling, including lotteries sponsored by governments. Gambling is motivated by a desire to get something for nothing. This desire is spiritually destructive. It leads participants away from the Savior's teachings of love and service and toward the selfishness of the adversary."

In other words, the devil wants to you gamble. God doesn’t.

The Mormon position against gambling is not a central tenet of the religion. It is a matter of policy rather than doctrine. There isn’t an emphatic prohibition on gambling the way there is on drinking alcohol or caffeine or smoking.

In their oral testimonies of their fidelity to the teachings of the church that Mormons must give to gain access to Mormon temples, gambling isn’t even on the church’s check-list for entrance to the temples. But Mormons have been told not to gamble repeatedly by the church's elders, and the current president of the Mormon church. And so, good Mormons don`t gamble. And Mitt Romney is a very good Mormon.

And so, in Utah, where there is still no state lottery, thanks to Mormon influence, ears popped on Saturday night when they heard Mitt Romney propose a bet on the Republican debate stage.


ROMNEY: I’ll tell you what, 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet?

PERRY: I’m not in the betting business.


O’DONNELL: Rick Perry, a formidably religious Republican in his own right got that one debate answer right, both religiously and politically. That moment, though, left Mormons hoping that Romney was joking.

But joking about sin is actually not one of the richer veins of Mormon comedy. The only real sin Romney committed in that moment was political. The richest guy on the stage emphasizing that he could buy and sell everyone else on that stage, including the other rich guys on the stage, and thinking that should impress primary voters. The $10,000 bet will forever be enshrined in the presidential debate hall of shame.

Joining me now, Politico political senior writer Maggie Haberman. Also, Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank.
"The $10,000 bet will forever be enshrined in the presidential debate hall of shame?” In fact, it’s already been forgotten—but it did help Lawrence make it through the night.

O’Donnell constantly plays the fool; this night, he was also chasing the Mormon. But then, didn’t you catch a hint of the same old-fashioned, mob-based impulse in this post by Digby? Does Digby feel that she is required to think the same way her “forebears” did? Why then should the Mormon?

Your lizard brain will help you find ways to support these manifestations. But occasionally, we seem like very bad people. Beyond that, something else is becoming quite clear:

As a people, we’re almost impossibly dumb. This problem infests our political culture, from our elites on down.


  1. Not surprised that that KKK stupidity started on Aravosis's haunt. His MO is to make stuff up, accuse in the most incendiary way possible, and then ask his readers for money. Journalists should know better than to trust his site.

    I think his case is elucidating when it comes to how the stupid crossed over from the right to the left. Aravosis is a former Republican and would still be a Republican if he were straight. Other famous former Republicans know how to bring the stupid like none other. This exodus from the GOP was fun for a while, but we should learn to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  2. Thank you, Bob, for finally writing about Robin Givhan. I first marveled at her inane work in the 2008 election season when the Pulitzer Prize winner (groan) wrote about what Barack Obama's ties clothes said about his patriotism and launched a mini controversy over his deeply troubling lack of flag lapel pins:

    "One of the most distinctive elements of Barack Obama's public style comes down to what he so often is not wearing: patriotism on his sleeve." Givhan continued: "Whether he is speaking at a campaign rally, attending a fish fry or debating his Democratic challengers, he comes across as the candidate least willing to drape himself in the usual symbols of nationalism and politics. No flag pin on the lapel. No hand on heart during the national anthem. And he generally shuns bold red ties."

    I would love to see you tackle the Post's "The Contenders" series on the deep insights into the candidates' soul as revealed by their body language. Here's a sample, from writer Michael Leahy, on the amazing "gifts" of Rick Perry:

    "Never were Rick Perry’s talents more evident than during the opening weekend of his Republican presidential campaign — a heady period that seems long ago now, overshadowed since by his debate slip-ups and other rhetorical gaffes that have sent his prospects tumbling. He had traveled to the New Hampshire town of Greenland for a meet-and-greet, with his poll numbers at their zenith. Beaming, he waded into the throng. Sometimes, he worked the people two at a time. He gently clasped the hand of someone to his side — essentially holding the appreciative stranger until ready to turn and woo her — while looking deeply into the eyes of the person straight ahead. He lingered, making conversation about lives, hobbies, jobs. Finally, he turned back to the person whose hand he held. Many of the previously uncommitted there pledged support on the spot to the man then regarded as the chief threat to Mitt Romney.

    Watching the candidate that August day was David Hurst, the 31-year-old chairman of the New Hampshire Young Republicans. He had never seen another politician forge bonds more quickly.

    “Perry came away with a lot of supporters, which you don’t often see in New Hampshire this early,” Hurst said the next afternoon. “Perry establishes an amazing emotional connection.”
    The spectacularly awful writing aside, did it ever occur to Leahy that most every candidate work the crowds in this way -- and that they have a fleet of consultants who teach them how to do so? What's next? A description of Perry earnestly kissing babies?

    I guess it's easier than writing about the sham that is Perry's "Texas Miracle" (although discussion of that seems to have vanished as Perry's campaign fortunes have sunk.)

    But God, that's bad.

  3. Actually .... I see you've written about Givhan before. Always nice to be reminded how truly stupid these "analyses" are, though.

  4. ISTM that although most in the media don't express anti-Mormon bigotry, they treat it as less serious than racism. I recall one interview from 3 years ago when Romney was asked how he intended to deal with his problem of bigotry against Mormons. His problem. By comparison, bigotry against blacks is treated as America's problem.

  5. "Bigotry against blacks," by which I'm assuming you mean legal, social, political, and economic RACISM and WHITE SUPREMACY, "is treated as America's problem," because it is.

    Racism and white supremacy go back 400 years in what is the United States of America (and further back on other places), and continues today. It was once legally installed as the law of the land, and even when struck down still maintained by millions of white people against blacks. That's why it's "treated as America's problem" but it also is a problem across the Americas, and Europe.

    But then do you even know, David in Cal, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, began? Do you know where they began? Do you know how many Mormons there are in the US? Do you know how many black people there are in the US?

  6. Yes, Yerxxa, racism, where it still exists, is America's problem. IMHO any existing form of bigotry is America's problem. That's why our laws prohibit discrimination based on religion as well as discrimination based on race. That's why our Consitution specifies that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

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