Thursday, October 09, 2003

YET ANOTHER RADICAL NONPARTISAN political post. Now hear this: If Alec Baldwin and the rest of the Hollywood left are idiots, as the conservatives tell us, for thinking their celebrity translates to policy expertise, so are Arnold Schwarzenegger and the rest of the Hollywood right. And if Arnold Schwarzenegger is a bad guy, as the liberals tell us, because women claim that he groped them in years past, so is Bill Clinton. (Forget about Monica Lewinsky. Remember Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick. I'm not saying I believe or don't believe either man's accusers; I'm just saying that the situations are, for purposes of claiming the moral high ground, parallel. If you truly believe otherwise, you're on drugs. Like, take your pick, Rush Limbaugh or Aaron Sorkin. Allegedly.)

So that's Liberals/Democrats 1, Conservatives/Republicans 1. I could go on, but I think the score would stay pretty close to a tie. American political discourse has devolved into a simulacrum of the American legal system, where advocates on both sides lie their asses off and somehow that's supposed to produce truth. We'd all like to think that our lies, if we tell any, are of the righteous prosecution variety, inadvertent untruths rather than the nakedly calculated denials of the guilty defense side. But what both sides' rhetoric almost always boils down to is "When your guy does it, it's because he's evil. When our guy does it, there was a good reason." The only thing both sides can agree on is the biggest lie of all: that one side has a monopoly on honesty.

"If you're interested in which wing lies more, you're probably not very interested in the truth." I wish I'd written that, but it was Slate's Jack Shafer. I'm not the first radical moderate to cite the brilliance of that line, but I don't think it can be repeated enough.

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