Do Results Matter In Politics?

Writing about George Will's column arguing for conservatism and the Republican Party, Greg Anrig points out a too common flaw in most apologias for conservatism and the GOP:

[H]e is reciting exactly the same rig[a]marole that he and other conservatives have repeated since before Reagan was president, as though the failures of conservatives to deliver on their promises while in power during most of the interim somehow isn’t germane to the discussion.

But is it just George Will and conservatives? Consider Rudy Giuliani's national security creds. Or Fred Thompson the tough guy. Actual experience and actual toughness have nothing to do with the way the Media covers these individuals. To quote the philosopher Andre Agassi, "image is everything" it seems.

This is, at heart, the Al Gore complaint. Facts no longer matter in the political debate on ideas for the most part. The Media has woken up on Iraq to some extent, but on little else. And as always, the political reporting in this country remains substance free.

When the discussion of access to information as essential to democracy is joined, my defense of a free market free press is, to a large extent, stymied, by the utter failure of our free market press. This is certainly not an argument for a government controlled press of course. But it does leave one in a quandary as to what can work.

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    Working through The Assault on Reason (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 04:18:23 PM EST
    now. I agree that most political debate is substance free, and, to a large degree, that's why Joe Lieberman and Mitch McConnell can still be presented as calm, reasonable, and realistic, against all of the evidence.

    It also helps to explain why, as I remarked to mcjoan last week, we have a disturbing habit of breaking for the stupid candidate in elections; image is everything.

    Off topic: do you notice the language in Chris Dodd's blogads? I feel like he and his staff have been paying attention to you. ;-)

    Do Results Matter? (none / 0) (#2)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 04:36:56 PM EST
    No. Ideas, issues, past experience and workable solutions to existing problems are irrelevant. In a culture raised on Hollywood fantasies , Rock Stars and American Idol, image is everything. In the absence of facts, the public can create any mental image of a candidate that mets their fancy and convince themselves that this fantasy is the real thing.

    Conservatives have been successful. (none / 0) (#3)
    by Geekesque on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 05:20:30 PM EST
    Their goal is not to achieve any policy breakthroughs, but rather to make sure that the levers of government don't get used against the monied interests, especially the wealth class.

    Repub-controlled press. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Lora on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 05:49:59 PM EST
    This is certainly not an argument for a government controlled press of course.

    This is what we have.

    Past is irrelevant, Words don't matter (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ellie on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 07:45:20 PM EST
    Apparently, when things get tough the cons unite in fogging up the works.

    IMO today's right wing Wurlitzer is too enamored of the Budo of assaulting by news cycle, plugging in whatever is expedient and pumps up the volume.

    It's how they gained and kept power after Watergate. That's how they keep the fact-checking left continually busy and ineffectual. Not only are the left required to restore the public record (which "neutral" media are supposed to do but don't, because the RW hit squads can't be reasoned with and are guaranteed to be more vicious), but wiping the non-stop smears off themselves.

    To the Wurlitzer, though, all they have to do is throw whatever crap they can at the wall and if it sticks it sticks. And they can always pardon and/or rewrite the hagiography of their favorite scumbags.

    The latest tactic in the revisionism around the widespread distancing from the Bush admin is that "we" have to start from a fresh scoresheet and it's whole new ballgame.

    That fresh scorecard seems to be job one to say-anything cons that have been around for decades, blithely not owning any scandal or failure of conservatism.

    There's even been a bumper crop of lame attempts to write Bush off as "actually" being a liberal, so vilified is the word, but one has to wonder if this was the obvious case, why these same clowns have been circling their wagons for the last 7 years.