Monday, February 18, 2008

Republican Affirmative Action

Digby asks

Can someone explain to me why Republican presidential candidates are always saying completely brain dead things like this?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not believe in mandates. I believe that every American should have affordable and available health care and I'd like to talk just an additional minute about that. But I'm not going to mandate that they do. I want every American to have affordable and available education. But I'm not going to mandate that they do.

The answer is simple: for years, Republicans have been able to say anything they want, with almost no comment from the press. Live long enough in an environment with little accountability, and things just spiral out of control. "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran"? No problem. "Cutting taxes reduces the federal deficit"? OK. The Republicans have had political potty mouths for years, but no one ever tells them to watch their language, so they keep it up. Ann Coulter did not happen in a vacuum -- she happened because everyone in the media politely agreed to ignore her more obscene statements. It's kind of like they're at a social gathering, and someone cuts loose with a real rip snorter of a fart, which everyone ignores as a sign of good manners. Sometimes, they even laugh along with her, and assure everyone that she's just such a kidder. The media, in effect, practice affirmative action with Republicans. Crazy statements by Republicans are ignored; equally crazy -- many not even close, in fact -- from the Democrats instantly hit the talking head circuit. Whatever else happens, the media people have got to prove they aren't part of the "liberal media."

This is one of the reasons I think the Republicans are in trouble in the presidential election. The media can hide that sort of thing when no one is looking, but in the glare of a presidential election, they are going to have a lot tougher job of it covering up for McCain when he says something stupid, which he does all the time. Or, he'll say something stupid during a slow time for the news, somebody is going to decide "what the hell, just this once I'll talk about it, and besides I got a deadline", and the dam will start cracking. Once that happens, there are plenty of other weak spots in the McCain dam waiting to spring a leak.