Building a Nation of Know-Nothings

By TIMOTHY EGAN

Having shed much of his dignity, core convictions and reputation for straight talk, Senator John McCain won his primary on Tuesday against the flat-earth wing of his party. Now McCain can go search for his lost character, which was last on display late in his 2008 campaign for president.

McCain was quick to knock down the lie. “No, ma’am,” he said, “he’s a decent family man, a citizen.”

That ill-informed woman — her head stuffed with fabrications that could be disproved by a pre-schooler — now makes up a representative third or more of the Republican party.

It’s not just that 46 percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim, or that 27 percent in the party doubt that the president of the United States is a citizen. But fully half of them believe falsely that the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP was enacted by Obama, and not by President Bush.

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.

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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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. FlynnD
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 04:17:00

    Excellent piece (except for the mention of a blow-out Toronto Blue Jays defeat!).I'm at a loss, however, as to exactly why you posted this… is it because you believe that in order for conservatives to move forward on a stable, less wingnutty footing, facts and sound reasoning will eventually win the day as opposed to tossing s**t around willy-nilly seeing who can get away with behaving in the most disingenuous ways possible? Yes I'm talking about Beck and Palin and Franklin Graham for starters! Or is it because you think enough with the blind rage and more with a sensible discussion of the facts?It's no wonder I like your blog… you are a thoughtful and engaged person who doesn't blindly accept what the more radical elements of your own party try to impose on it's members. As an almost 100% progressive (but like your side, I believe in law and order and taking responsibility for one's actions whether they be personal sins or corporate malfeasance) and despite your self-confessed loathing of liberals, you have and always will have my attention.

    Reply

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