Tahlequah Daily Press


February 25, 2012

As political insanity tunes up, rational folks tune out

Most folks assume journalists revel in political campaign season. After all, the candidates provide plenty of grist for the mill and ink for the pulp, and we’re here to get that information out the people. And if the people are reading the papers and listening to the news, they ought to be well-informed enough to make rational decisions at the polls, right?

Wrong on both counts. Some of us actually get as tired of reporting it as you all do of reading it.

At some point, many folks give up reading and listening, because they’ve ultimately concluded - correctly - that 95 percent of what spews from the maws of politicians is either nonsense or lies of a magnitude that set Ol’ Slewfoot grinning from horn to horn. While covering stump speeches and debates, most legitimate journalists are not as much afraid of misquoting a politician as they are of embarrassing themselves by vomiting uncontrollably onto their notepads or microphones.

The illegitimate journalists – who are not journalists at all, but biased public relations shills for special interests – thrive in this environment as they wax forth with their propaganda. But still, sensible folks tune them out and turn the channel to something more credible like, say, a reality show. The ones who buy into the claptrap of the unfair and unbalanced media stooges may keep watching and even believing, but they aren’t any better informed than their savvier friends.

I know these things because lately, I’ve been answering a lot of what once would have been labeled “stupid questions” about politicians. And I’ve witnessed scenes that also prove many people believe they’ll never know the truth about candidates, so why waste time with attempted discernment?

Last week, while at the junction of U.S. 62 and Rayne, I noticed a group of young people (some scantily clad), waving signs that declared, “Honk for Paul!” I didn’t hear any responsive blasts during my brief stint in the left-turn lane, but I did see a guy in a truck pull over and speak to one of the kids.

A few minutes later, while in the produce department at Reasor’s, I recognized the guy who had stopped, and I overheard a conversation involving him and a couple of women in their late 60s or early 70s.

“I wonder what church it was?” one of the ladies was saying.

“I don’t know, but I just think it’s so wonderful that a youth group would be out there publicly proclaiming the gospel,” the other one said. “That one little girl wasn’t wearing much, but at least she wasn’t hiding her ‘Christian’ light under a bushel, either.”

That’s when the fellow in the truck interjected, “Oh, they weren’t a church group. They were out there stumping for that guy who’s running for president.”

“What guy?” the second woman asked.

“You know, that Rand or Ron Paul, or whoever he is,” said the guy.

“Oh, bless me!” the second woman said. “I feel so silly – I honked! I thought they were talking about the apostle!”

“You think YOU feel silly,” the guy told her. “I thought I was gonna get my truck washed for cheap.”

I’ve had similar phone calls at the office. Wednesday, a woman called to ask, “Is this Newt Gingrinch a-runnin’ for president the same man who was in Congress back when Slick Willie was in office?” (The spelling error is intentional, because that’s how she pronounced it.)

I confirmed that he was, and she said, “If I recollect, wadn’t he the one who was run off by the other ‘Publicans for some sort of wrongdoin’?”

I told her he was, and gave her a few website archives after she wanted a refresher on the details of the wrongdoing. She said she didn’t have online access, but added, “I ain’t a-votin’ fer ‘im anyway. I don’t like that black feller, neither, but I’m a Dem’crat, and my husband would roll in his grave if I voted for a ‘Publican.”

People have also called to ask whether Mitt Romney sanctions multiple wives, since he’s Mormon, although “mainstream” Latter-day Saints long ago denounced plural marriage. Friday afternoon, I took a call from a self-described Republican man who said, “I been listenin’ to some of them debates, and that Santorum character, he soun’ lack a kook, doanee?”

I don’t feel qualified to answer such questions. These days, it’s a relief to get questions we once considered annoying, like, “What’s the weather tomorrow supposed to be like?” or “I sent in a thing six months ago about my kid gettin’ an award and was wonderin’, when did ya’ll run it?”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m already looking forward to an end to this “insanity.” And in this case, I do consider myself qualified to render an opinion.

Kim Poindexter is managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.

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