In addition to blurring the lines between religion and politics, science, superstition and just plain ignorance we seem to have lost our sense of propriety and succumbed to all that is crass and low-minded in our society. What was a steady stream of mindless invective has become a torrent of abuse that impedes reasonable discourse but manages to pass for thoughtful down-home wisdom in some circles.
It's bad enough that political leaders of limited skills and qualifications are provided with a platform as if they had something worthwhile to say. Anyone who captures the imagination of a disgruntled electorate content to applaud wildly whenever the words "smaller government" are spoken receives attention that far outweighs the content of their message. Add to a roster of untalented adults their even less talented offspring who have media access most young people of modest intellect and deficient education rarely attain.
Apparently all one needs is a nationally recognizable name and a brazen, in-your-face demeanor to convince the public that you belong in the spotlight. So Liz Cheney appeared on Sunday talk shows regularly to make her father's argument that water-boarding isn't torture and that the Bush administration kept us safe - - after 9/11 that is, no sense of shame or responsibility for the mess it left in its wake. Likewise there's no embarrassment about Bristol's unwed pregnancy or her gig on "Dancing with the Stars" where her gyrations do little to conceal a lack of dancing ability and where the fact that she and her partner are finalists brought a chorus of boos from the audience. In fact there's momma grizzly laughing and applauding Palin's performance as if she were just your typical teenage unwed mother making a comeback after an unfortunate 'situation.'
And instead of taking the time to study and understand the intricacies of foreign policy or even the basics of her running mate's platform Palin stammered through interviews claiming afterwards to have been the target of "gotcha" politics, opening the door for a series of discussions about how women candidates are treated unfairly. Basically, however, Palin, Sharron Angle and O'Donnell hoped to exploit weaknesses that made it easier for a large segment of the electorate to identify with them. "I am you" said O'Donnell in one of her commercials and sadly recent poll numbers bear her out. Blue collar, white voters without a college education carried the day for Republican candidates in many districts this past November. And while there are lots of smart people who are not college-educated there's a tendency these days to mock intellect and celebrate ignorance. 'Getting out the vote' doesn't guarantee a reasonable result.
But worse than their capacity to monopolize the conversation by hammering home their talking points the disrespect Republicans have shown the president .by postponing a scheduled meeting at the White House until after Thanksgiving is mind-numbing - - a transparent effort to prevent Democrats from furthering their agenda during the lame duck session. It should be obvious by now that gamesmanship trumps all other aspects of political life in this country. The fact that Minority leader McConnell says his main goal is to keep Obama from a second term and that John Kyl threatens to block approval of the New Start Treaty the president negotiated with Russia are indications that Republicans are about pursuing political goals not good governance or national security.
In a speechifying blizzard from conservatives and Tea Party acolytes about how to turn the country around it is apparent the new Republican majority has something less than a coherent plan to achieve their stated goals of smaller government, lower taxes and deficit reduction. Already they are arguing among themselves about whether earmarks are really budget busters or the war in Afghanistan is winnable, hardly the united front they constructed to oppose the president.
In typical fashion former vice president Cheney remarked at ground-breaking ceremonies for the Bush library that it was the only "shovel-ready" project in the country. How depressing that someone who did nothing to advance the fortunes of the country sees fit to make light of efforts by this administration to dig us out of the financial hole Cheney and his oil and banking cohorts dug for us - - a shameful, no-class act.