Sunday, August 5, 2012

It Is Only August People

Dear Politicians,

Can we all just cool it? Here is something that I really feel needs to be said, but I'm not sure how best to put into words what I think. It is only August. We have already had one major party have to issue an apology for accusing a financial backer of the other party for funding a Chinese prostitution ring. From the floor of the Senate we've had claims that, in any other medium, would be considered libel/slander on their face (accusing people of a crime is always considered malicious, even when you accidentally accuse the wrong person unintentionally, such as getting the name wrong/misspelling it.)

It's only August. This election cannot end soon enough. Remember last time when both parties, at least nominally, pretended to be nice to each other? One of the candidates was even nice enough to cut an ad to just straight out congratulating his opponent. Granted, we know that they hated each others' guts. But, they kept the appearance of liking each other enough not to let surrogates go around publicly accusing people unrelated to the campaigns about being part of a Chinese prostitution ring. That was right decent of them.

I imagine by October, we will be told Romney is secretly bank rolling Skynet and that Obama personally makes sure clouds are always in the way of all the rainbows ever.



I initially thought the whole Reid is a pederast counter-rumor/point-making was a bit silly and over the top. Funny, ha-ha, good point about spreading baseless rumors! But... it seems like some people aren't getting the hint that you don't just go around willy-nilly claiming things you can't prove. Apparently, we have to cross the line twice and back again for people to get that this is not how to engage in public debate.

The White House is doubling down on the "Romney is guilty of tax evasion until proven innocent" line of thinking. Look, here's how accusing someone works. You provide a claim with evidence. Then, we analyze the evidence. If the evidence is strong, then the accused may defend himself. Non-existent evidence does not require a defense. Using a rumor with ever-shifting details invites dismissal of the claims.

You should not be rewarded for rumor mongering and flinging mud by getting what you want. Temper tantrums should not be rewarded. Least of all when they grossly misrepresent basic tenets of fairness that America has come to expect. Should Romney release his tax records? I'm always for more disclosure. I think it would be great to get more information about all of our candidates at various electoral levels. But bullying, lying and accusations of being a felon are flat out wrong and should not be given the time of day without proof. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," and all that jazz.

I really expect people in the Senate and White House to understand basic decency, fairness and the American justice system better than bloggers and myself. I don't even have a master's degree, and I understand why you don't get on the television set and say things like: "Romney is illegally evading his taxes! Now, do I know that's true? Well, I'm not certain."

When you make a claim, you back it up. "I don’t think the burden should be on me" is the exact opposite of how proving any claim ever works. That's not logical or fair. Here's what I'll say: Harry Reid is not a felon. He is also not a pederast. Dirty liar, though? Maybe. There is the off chance that someone did whisper in Reid's ear, and he just didn't feel like doing the leg work to prove it. That is also incredibly bad and lazy, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he's just naive.

Reckless and slanderous? Definitely. He needs to be shamed until he realizes what he did wrong, and to that end, I like the coordination and message discipline about how Reid has not shown off his taxes. Letting accusations like this out in the wild and giving them any play what-so-ever is part of the problem in why politics has gone from simply being rough around the edges to a cesspool that decent people avoid.


  1. The worst part of this whole "Reid accusing Romney of being a felon" thing is that it undermines the basic idea of how making a claim works. You make a claim, you provide evidence for the claim. The claim is analyzed; if it is found to have sufficient evidence, a counter-claim or defense is provided. You don't get to just skip the whole analyze/reason part because we all don't like the guy we're accusing of doing a bad thing.

  2. If only he began his accusation with "Some say."


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