Friday, February 12, 2010

Truther consequences

For the young-uns, "Truth or Consequences" was, among other meanings, the name of a popular US TV quizz show many years back before the invention of personal computers, internet and googling.

It is also the name of a small New Mexico town that hoped to put its name on the map by changing its name, from whatever it had been, to Truth or Consequences, to coat-tail the popularity of the TV show. Guambat wonders how that worked out.

It's also the game now being played out in Texas.

Medina catches flak from Beck for comments on 9/11 conspiracies
Conservative pundit Glenn Beck threw a wrench into Debra Medina's gubernatorial campaign Thursday.

Beck asked her, "Do you believe the government was any way involved with the bringing down of the World Trade Centers on 9/11?"

"I don't, I don't have all of the evidence there, Glenn," Medina said. "So I don't, I'm not in a place, I have not been out publicly questioning that. I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard. There are some very good arguments, and I think the American people have not seen all of the evidence there. So I've not taken a position on that.".

A full transcript of the exchange is here.

Medina posted a message on her web site suggesting the issue isn't one that should matter to Texas voters.

Nope. The issues that count for Texans, according to the site, are "Private property and gun ownership [which] are essential elements of freedom." Specifically:
We must eliminate property tax in Texas. We can fund necessary government services more efficiently and fairly using a broader based sales tax. [Tax spending, not wealth.]

Texans must not compromise and must not surrender their right to keep and bear arms.

As governor I will make addressing illegal immigration and promoting sovereignty a top priority.

Texas must stop the over reaching federal government and nullify federal mandates in agriculture, energy, education, healthcare, industry, and any other areas D.C. is not granted authority by the Constitution.

Mark Davis: Can Medina recover from unmitigated disaster?
If I had not developed considerable respect for Debra Medina, I would not bother to offer urgent advice on how to save the political future she may have torpedoed Thursday morning.

Talk show host Glenn Beck asked if she was a "9/11 truther" – that is, a member of the deranged community that says the World Trade Center towers were brought down not by terrorists hijackers but rather a U.S. government hungry to spark a nation to war by killing its own people.

Her answer was an unmitigated disaster. What we have to figure out now is what she has revealed.

In the dampened quiet of the morning snowfall, two sounds rolled across the Texas prairie: the collective gasp of sensible people who thought they were backing a sensible candidate, and the sickening thud of a once-promising campaign dashed against the rocks.

Can it be saved? That presumes that she is not in fact tolerant of the 9/11 "truth" psychosis. If she is, then she has little business in polite society, much less high elected office.

Problem is, given time to examine the hole she had dug, she issued a statement that contained precisely none of the contrition her supporters desperately needed to hear.

Her press release should have contained about 30 words: "I am so sorry. I was exhausted and my brain had turned to jelly. Let me make clear today and forever that in no way do I share the inexcusable conspiratorial fantasies of these people."

Instead, after offering perfunctory comfort that she did not harbor their beliefs, she said the question was a "surprise" because it is not relevant to the campaign. Wow. One hopes that someone seeking to run a state is not so easily bamboozled by a subject plucked from the topical periphery.

Then: "The real underlying question here is whether or not people have the right to question the government."

No, that is most certainly not the question. Despite its execrable views, the truther cult has every right to spew its pathological delusions. The question is whether Debra Medina has committed political suicide.

"She is not a 9/11 truther" was the single-sentence reply to the e-mail I immediately sent her campaign. Fair enough, but not good enough. Rationality requires not just a certificate of non-membership in that disturbed subculture. It requires instant and clear condemnation for a set of beliefs that are an unparalleled combination of baseless venom, stunning gullibility and juvenile stubbornness.
Others fellow Texan commentators were downright rude:

Mad Hatter for Texas Guv by Jimmy Fowler
Now that Republican gubernatorial primary contender Debra Medina has told Glenn Beck she believes there are good arguments to be made that the U.S. government was involved in the 9/11 attacks, can we please please please stop pretending that she’s a serious candidate rather than a batshit crazy teabagger? The editorial pages of North Texas’ dailies have been bending over backwards to take Medina seriously and not offend the looney tunes demographic of their dwindling readership.

For that matter, when will the national press quit pretending that the whole teabagger movement is something more legit than a confused collection of reactionary libertarians, anti-Obama conspiracy theorists, anti-tax extremists, paranoid anarchists, and “traditional values” fetishists?

Where is Molly Ivins when we need her?

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