Moments like the Sarah Palin for VP pick are moments to sit back and take measure of what a complex landscape we’re living under when it comes to what to believe, Googleability, and the whole concept of “citizen journalism.” The stupidity from both sides has been amazing (the “she has foreign policy experience because she’s right next door to Russia” remark on the right and the “it really wasn’t her baby” watch on the left), and the breadth and speed with which all of the details of her and her family’s life have been coming out have been astounding to watch. In fact, we’re no doubt witnessing it in spades right now simply because it was such an out of the box pick and the MSM just wasn’t ready for it.
Good thing we’re all here to fill in.
If you listen to C-SPAN in the mornings like I do, you can’t help but agree with Bill Maher when he says the country is getting stupider and stupider. If you watch FOX or MSNBC, listen to Rush or Hannity or Ed Schultz, read the red and blue blogs, you quickly find yourself in a huge virtual, asynchronous shouting match that regardless of your political leanings will make you both tired and frustrated and longing for the one page briefing memo with just the “facts” if there still are such beasts. (By the way, does anyone want to argue that the Wikipedia article on Sarah Palin may be the most extensive, neutral point of view collection of “facts” that exist about her right now?) Yeah, everyone having a printing press is a good thing on balance. But sheesh, it sure complicates things.
And it’s been a real treat watching a good chunk of this develop with my kids, pausing the TIVO like every 30 seconds to ask them what they heard, what they think it means, and then explain why it doesn’t necessarily mean what is sounds like it means. (Don’t worry, we don’t torture them too much with this, and we do it across party lines. We can only take so much of it ourselves.) All in an effort to plant some seeds of skepticism for media in their brains. (The best quote was from Tucker, btw, who while watching Palin’s introductory speech to the nation said “Why does McCain look so nervous?”)
There must be about 3 million ways we can make all of this a “teachable moment” for our kids, from having them blog the convention goings on to creating their own campaign commercials to building their own policy wikis. (I’m sure there are many others much better than those ideas, btw.) That is, of course, assuming we have the editing skills (and we’re not just talking punctuation, here) to sift through all of it and come to some informed conclusions ourselves, that we have the ability or at least the awareness of our ability to participate in meaningful ways.
I love presidential politics, but while it usually points out what is best about this country, it also serves to remind us how really, really dumbed down the whole process has become. And unless we get some folks around here who can sift through this morass of “truth” with a little more skill, it ain’t gonna get any better any time soon.
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