Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Left still shapes the debate

via Bookworm Room by Bookworm on 8/30/11

One of the big issues heating up for the election is "science."  I noted the other day that Krugman has thrown down the gauntlet, saying that the Republicans are returning us to a flat earth world, and, many, including Roger L. Simon, have picked it up, pointing out that Krugman and others have totally abandoned scientific method in order to support their ever-more-dubious claims. Rich Lowry continues in the Simon vein, elaborating on the way in which Leftists use science as a political and social bludgeon, instead of a method of rigorous analysis.
Jonah Goldberg, however, makes the best point of all, which is to challenge the way in which the Left still determines which science matters:
Rich: I liked your column today. But you only struck a glancing blow at my biggest peeve about the whole anti-science thing: Why does the Left get to pick which issues are the benchmarks for "science"? Why can't the measure of being pro-science be the question of heritability of intelligence? Or the existence of fetal pain? Or the distribution of cognitive abilities among the sexes at the extreme right tail of the bell curve? Or if that's too upsetting, how about dividing the line between those who are pro- and anti-science along the lines of support for geoengineering? Or — coming soon — the role cosmic rays play in cloud formation? Why not make it about support for nuclear power? Or Yucca Mountain? Why not deride the idiots who oppose genetically modified crops, even when they might prevent blindness in children?
Goldberg has focused upon a small subset of a much larger issue:  not only does the Left still control the dissemination of information (so that its decision to be silent about Obama's history with Rev. Wright meant most people didn't hear about it), it also decides what topics are worthy and what aren't.  Using it's still bullyish pulpit, it dictates that Republican candidates deserve to have their colons examined, while Democrat candidates get kudos.
During the Bush era, the media focused obsessively on battle deaths, but during the Obama era, that tragic information is all but ignored, even if it takes a more startling or extreme form than it did under Bush's watch.  It takes the Army to tell us what the MSM ignores.  (Proving, definitely I think, that the focus on deaths was never out of respect for the dead but was always intended to make Bush look like the man murdering, en masse, American youth.)
I am reminded of George Orwell's point in Newspeak:  if the vocabulary is killed, the ability to think the thoughts dies too.  The media, which has a weakened, but still strangling, hold on American discourse, is trying to place some ideas in our minds (Perry is a stupid, anti-scientific troglodyte) while utterly erasing others (anything bad about Obama).  Since it frames the debate, and sets the rules, it's going to win or, at the very least, have an disproportionate advantage.
This media framing may be why the guy who picked winners in the last seven elections thinks Obama will win the next one.  Obama fits the majority of Lichtman's 13 "keys" to election or, in Obama's case, re-election.  Most interestingly, he counts ObamaCare and the stimulus in Obama's favor ("major domestic-policy changes in his first term").  Allahpundit rightly points out that these are deeply unpopular measures, so they shouldn't count:
[S]urreally, he's counting the stimulus, which the public reviles, and ObamaCare, about which the public is deeply suspicious, as a point in Obama's favor because they are, after all, major "changes" to American domestic policy. By that standard, even the dumbest, most hated piece of legislation should be treated as an asset to a presidential campaign so long as it's significant enough to constitute "major change." If you flip that Key to the GOP, then you've got six for the Republicans — enough to take the White House by Lichtman's own metrics.
What Allahpundit isn't considering, though, is that the media, which will shape the prism through which the election plays out, will constantly sell both the stimulus and ObamaCare to the public as "good things."  The question is whether the public is going to believe the media or its lying eyes.  Past elections, sadly, have shown that, to paraphrase Mencken, you can never go broke underestimating the analytical abilities of the American public.  (Although Ace wonders if even the public can be that dumb.)

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