Up until now I’ve resisted the temptation to write about the Republican presidential candidates. This is because they just didn’t seem worth it. This is the sorriest field of candidates I have ever seen. That’s a remarkable statement considering that I’ve seen some truly sorry candidates in my time. (Does anyone remember Al Haig? One of my favorite throwaway gags on The Simpsons was when Homer went rummaging through his attic and found an “Al Haig for President” t-shirt. Of course, Haig would look like Abraham Lincoln standing alongside this current bunch.) These people aren’t even competent bullshitters. (There are 14 million adult Americans who can’t find work, and Newt Gingrich is talking about bringing back child labor.) Yet what gets me is the seeming credulousness that the media show towards these bozos. CNN is an endless parade of talking heads solemnly discussing every nuance of the drivel that comes out of these people’s mouths. It’s as though Dorothy and her companions have discovered the man behind the curtain, but they still think that the giant head is real. (Yeah, I know, that’s the second Wizard of Oz metaphor that I’ve used this week. You have to admit that it’s appropriate, though.)

Consider Rick Perry. He first came to national attention when he made a stupid comment about Texas seceding from the Union. He was than accused of allowing an innocent man to be executed. Yet when he announced his candidacy last summer, the media greeted it with a fanfare worthy of Caesar crossing the Rubicon. They seemed ready to inaugurate him right then. (Alexander Cockburn compared Perry to Ronald Reagan. Before that, he compared Sarah Palin to Ronald Reagan.) Almost immediately, Perry slit his own throat by attacking Social Security. (A large chunk of the Republicans’ voter base consists of elderly people. The one thing the Republicans can not attack is Social Security. I’m amazed that Perry’s handlers didn’t tell him that.) He then embarrassed himself during the debates, a remarkable achievement considering that he was on the same stage as Michele Bachmann.

And then there was Herman Cain. Here was a man with no political experience, whose only accomplishment in life was that he laid off employees at Godfather’s Pizza. (Strangely, it didn’t seem to bother anyone that his company’s name was based on an ethnic stereotype.) Yet reporters treated him as a serious candidate, a pretense that became increasingly difficult to maintain, as Cain didn’t try very hard to conceal his lack of interest in politics. (Concerning the sexual harassment allegations, should it surprise anyone that someone who runs a sordid company like Godfather’s Pizza would behave in a sordid manner?)

The news media do not exist to inform us. They exist to maintain the charade that is U.S. politics.

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