False Accusations

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Timothy Egan nails it in today’s New York Times blog.

Take a look at Tuesday night’s box score in the baseball game between New York and Toronto. The Yankees won, 11-5. Now look at the weather summary, showing a high of 71 for New York. The score and temperature are not subject to debate.
Yet a president’s birthday or whether he was even in the White House on the day TARP was passed are apparently open questions. A growing segment of the party poised to take control of Congress has bought into denial of the basic truths of Barack Obama’s life. What’s more, this astonishing level of willful ignorance has come about largely by design, and has been aided by a press afraid to call out the primary architects of the lies.

This spring, the outlandish lies coming from the right combined with the spectacle of Tea Party rallies –with their nonsensical policies and vapid understandings of constitutional law — made it seem as though taking any of it seriously would compromise one’s own intelligence. Or, even, one’s own ability to discern reality from its antithesis.

Not so. There was a clever admonishment I spotted at every rally I attended: “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.”

As Egan points out, recent polls have shown just how variable and personal the truth has become. Nearly twenty percent of Americans believe the President is a Muslim. Politicians at every level of government, including Michigan Congressional candidate Rocky Raczkowski, openly question whether the President was born in the United States.

What’s that mean that the party controlling Congress and the White House has lost the handle on facts that are as indisputable as the 11 runs the Yankees scored? Egan’s answer is not one that brings with it warm and fuzzy feelings.

The Democrats may deserve to lose in November. They have been terrible at trying to explain who they stand for and the larger goal of their governance. But if they lose, it should be because their policies are unpopular or ill-conceived — not because millions of people believe a lie.

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