On the whole this site concerns itself with top-shelf newspaper punditry primarily because as one descends into syndication things get pretty bad.  So bad, at times, one wonders whether it's even fair to bring our very undergraduate skills of logical analysis to bear.  But sometimes, however, it's just entertaining.  If anything, Bill Maher's Religulous shows us that.  Someone could do the same thing for the poltical world.  Here's one place to start:

An e-mail: "OK, I'll say it…I believe today's massive decline was, in part (and maybe a big "in part"), in fear that the debate tonight won't go well for McCain and the implications that will have for an Obama victory. The likelihood of a recession has been talked about and, probably, factored in to a lot of folks' thinking already… …if tonight's debate tracks well for McCain, you'll see a positive response tomorrow; if it doesn't, hold on; it won't be pretty. Call it: 'Flight to Safety (from Socialism).'"

That's an email an editor at William F.Buckley's National Review thought important enough to repost online–without howls of laughter or at least notes of compassion for the person's diminished intellectual capacity.  So here's the problem, if one were to do a Religulous of politics, where would one begin?

5 thoughts on “Politiculous”

  1. John, a great idea.  Here’s a first stab at it:

    I think an extended interview with Senator James Inhofe would be a good start, a short conversation with Sean Hannity (you don’t need much), then go to the offices of the American Spectator, which, as far as I can see, is The National Review for people who don’t even pretend to know anything about politics.
    The problem from there would be to sort out the abundance of other resources: visit the Heritage Institute or the Hoover Institute, who have produced Jonah Goldberg and Peter Schweizer respectively.  Maybe visit one of Phyllis Schlafly’s webpages and engage someone on the EAGLE FORUM. 

    Just to start with leftists, get anyone talking about Chomsky. The phrase “manufacturing consent” is the gift that keeps giving.

  2. Two problems.
    First, it over-yields.  There are plenty of good uses of the idea (e.g., deploying the term to talk about the lead-up to the first and second Iraq wars), but it often is used to describe any effective political campaign or program.   As a consequence, it make its users blind to any kind of legitimacy, since you can see conspiracies anywhere.  That’s why it keeps giving.
    Second, it treats democratic deliberation as something mechanical, and thereby it downplays any reasoning that actually might be happening when we think something through.  When we see politics through the lens of manipulation, argument quality becomes more a function of effectiveness instead of support.  Even Walter Lippmann thought that it was important for those who were making decisions not to be too caught up or exposed to the campaigns, since their capacity to think about the isses would be compromised.
    My point was that Chomsky’s notion may be useful, but it’s something that widely abused.

  3. Fair enough. I’ve been known to abuse it from time time (its hard not too). Although, I may be a little skeptical about granting those “at the top” who make decisions the capacity to think things through. Or those at McCain rallies…

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