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Andrew O’Hehir’s Salon Article 2012/10/20 Conflates “binders” with “Benghazi”

October 21, 2012

SATURDAY, OCT 20, 2012 12:00 PM EDT

From binders to Benghazi, memes are killing politics

Irrelevant details dominate the way we talk about the campaign. This might not be new, but it is getting worse

BY ANDREW O’HEHIR

By now the general population is fully aware of the fact that reading an article by a left-leaning writer/pseudo-journalist is almost always both tiresome and unproductive.  There’s the tendency to play fast and loose with the facts or, even worse, to present them in such a way as to actually obscure the truth.  Inevitably the discerning reader is left with mixed emotions and wondering what it is that motivates these people to serve up such rotting fare.  Can they really be so reality challenged as to believe what they write or is there some more nefarious motivation?

In the case of the article being reviewed, the title is a well-chosen one as it certainly warns every wavering reader that the body of the article is likely to contain an unappetizing gruel of assumptions and purported facts which can only be swallowed with copious amounts of liberal sugar.  Only a liberal would attempt to conflate the manufactured “controversy” over Mr. Romney’s “binder” statement with the on-going scandal generally known as the “Benghazi Incident”.  The only possible reason for such a ploy is to downgrade the importance of what happened in Benghazi and to suggest that “nothing happened here, move along”.  I guess that Mr. O’Hehir agrees with the President that the four deaths resulting from the Administration’s incompetence were simply bumps in the road and certainly less than optimal.  What truly disgusting attitude, but well within the typical liberal frame of reference, not to mention completely disrespectful to those who lost their lives, their families, and those who continue to serve with distinction.

In the overheated, light-speed feedback loop of contemporary media, it’s easy for some irrelevant semiotic or symbolic detail to dominate political discourse for days at a time. If we could go back in time and talk to the journalists covering, say, the 1988 presidential campaign, how would we explain the way that “binders full of women” became a leading search term, Twitter topic and Tumblr inspiration (let alone explain what those things were)?

Interestingly, Mr O’Hehir attempts to support his stated position against “irrelevant details dominating….(political discourse)”  by only referencing the “binders full of women” example.  Perhaps even he could see how ridiculous he would appear had he chosen to continue the analogy suggested in the title of his piece.  This intellectually dishonest trick of using a false equivalency as a way of obscuring the fact that both sides “don’t do it” has become more and more prevalent as those on the left have increasingly become targets of ridicule.

Memo to Mr. O’Hehir:

They are not the same thing.

Although I would suggest that the fact that desperate liberals attempted to take Mr. Romney to the woodshed for appointing a significant number of women to high impact positions when he was Governor of Massachusetts might well be a matter of legitimate discussion, I do agree that those on the left should be called to account for their disingenuous attempt to obfuscate the issue by purposefully misunderstanding Mr. Romney’s use of a perfectly legitimate word (in English).

On the other hand, having shown their disregard for civility and the intelligence of every American, I would disrespectfully suggest that for you to compound the problem, using the same kind of thinking,  and proceed to throw the Ambassador’s dead body under the Obama Campaign bus for political purposes is truly reprehensible.

Then again, it can often seem as if the entire electoral process consists of questions of style and messaging that have nothing to do with one’s ability to govern the country but carry all kinds of perceived psychological and cultural freight. Political culture is full of wisdom and waggery that conveys the message that it’s all a Madison Avenue con, to which only you and I and other savvy observers are immune.

What’s interesting in the comment above is that the author seems blind to the fact that what he is describing is not only the view from the left, but the fault of the left.  He has correctly diagnosed the problem, but failed to realize that it is primarily a liberal problem and thus should not be projected onto the rest of us.  In other words, he has put his finger on what the rest of us have found so problematic with the way that the left approaches each and every issue that comes before the American people.  While much of the rest of the country is interested in electing the person best able to govern the country, the left is all about style and demonizing their opponents.

Every four years, we choose between Coke and Pepsi; Americans vote for Dad when it comes to the White House and Mom when it comes to Congress. (Actually, in the era of the Tea Party, that has shifted. A whole lot of Americans have voted their crazy racist uncles into Congress, often all too literally.)

Here it seems the author has lost his faith in the “hope and change” promised by Obama and even seems to have some understanding of the need for “Mom and Dad” which, by the way, is not the same difference as “Coke and Pepsi”.  The problem is that he goes right back to the safety of his liberal prejudices while failing to provide any evidence supporting his statement.

We crave narratives, and when necessary, we’ll make them up out of whatever fragments are available: Obama lost the Denver debate, and possibly the entire election, by looking downcast, stretching out his syllables, overusing the first-person singular. I’m not convinced that conservative commentators really believe that Obama is specifically to blame for what happened in Benghazi or that Candy Crowley is a left-wing hit woman – but they all have to pretend they do for a few days. The other day, the Salon editorial staff conducted an extensive email debate about the stray forelock that always seems to escape from Mitt Romney’s otherwise immaculate hairdo. It was meant, we decided, to suggest a note of bad-boy virility – a touch of Elvis Presley or Capt. Kirk after a tussle – lurking within the teetotaling Robo-Mormon. Here’s what we were all sure about: It wasn’t something that just happened.

Once again, in the paragraph above, he illustrates the liberal penchant for nonsense while at the same time continuing to assume a false equivalency.  Conservatives don’t just believe that Obama is specifically to blame for what happened in Benghazi or that Candy Crowley is a left-wing hit woman, they know it by reviewing and applying the objective and factual evidence proving it to be true.  Just because the left worries about such things as Romney’s stray forelock while apparently putting similar issues on par with other more substantive issues he should not assume that the rest of the country shares the same inability to separate the wheat from the chaff.  In fact, it is that very penchant on the part of the left to raise such nonsensical issues to the level of national importance that represents one of the reasons the left is viewed with such disdain.

I’m not going to continue to rebut the rest of the article line by line, but by this time I would hope that the reader can fill in the blanks for himself.  It’s crazy.  The author continues to provide various examples based on what seems to be some actual research and knowledge.  The problem is that the knowledge is not put to good use and all of the conclusions are tainted with the need to twist the facts to support his leftist agenda.

Each time I read one of these articles which attempt to support the liberal world view by selectively presenting information, I wonder at the mass of disinformation being thrust on an unsuspecting public.  There are not enough hours in the day available to expose this kind of nonsense and thus what we have is conservatives and liberals living in two different worlds speaking at, instead of to, each other.  Interestingly , isn’t that a major theme of Andrew O’Hehir’s article?

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