I MAY'VE mentioned this before, but I've survived two terms of Richard Nixon and five of Ronald Reagan, a tiny witticism which should not be allowed to disguise the fact that two of those extra terms belonged to George W. Bush, who was judged by many, if not always exactly a majority, of our fellow citizens to be fit to operate a country when he clearly couldn't operate an oil company even after someone staked him profitability. And that's without touching on Indiana politics, where, the casual observer is reminded, we think Dan Quayle, Dan Burton, Evan Bayh, and Earl Landgrebe are men of national stature. So soul-deadening news from Wisconsin I take in stride, like the overcooked cow-fed steak and chemically bleu'd cheese dressing millions of my fellows view as the height of the cuisinier's art. Nothing new, can't be helped, evidently, please feel free to try anyway.
What's worse than some nearby, and similar, state, albeit one once considerably more intelligent, dealing with a crooked carnival game operator as governor--leave us be honest, just for the change of scenery it affords, and ask when this wasn't the rule, not the exception, in American politics?--is the fact that people nowadays have every opportunity to know better, and they seem, in response, to be getting stupider about such things by the minute.
I make no judgements about whether the people of Wisconsin should have dumped that blithering Jaycee dick they were foolish enough to elect in the first place; people who live in Indiana shouldn't throw stones. But what's the fucking excuse for the mass-market media?
Last week John Gregg, the Indiana Democratic candidate for governor--"Democratic" here defined as "the Republican who isn't Mike 'Choirboy' Pence"--came out swinging. Sort of. He accused Pence of being "an extremist", which is like accusing him of being religious. He used as prime evidence a book published by the Indiana Policy Review, a licensed-begging, non-profit educational foundation Pence headed before he went to Washington, a book Pence co-authored, and which called for, among other things, an end to minimum wage, and eight-year Congressional term limits. Pence served for twelve. Oh, I hope you were sitting down.
This caused many independent Indiana political observers, including Jim Shella, the Dean Broder of Indiana political journalism, to note that the book in question was twenty years old. As though the statue of limitations on being an outright liar had passed.
Shella actually treated the criticism more even-handedly when blogging about it, but "Twenty-year-old information" was in the first sentence of his teevee coverage. As though the very notion of holding Mike Pence accountable for anything he's ever said insulted the all the hard work the man has put in moderating his thought (his one thought) through the years, as well as making those dewy campaign blurbs.
Pence is running as a sort of evangelical Rick Santorum, emphasizing his own fictitious hardscrabble upbringing while glossing over what would have become of him under present-day Christian Republican rules. The Mike Pence who's already flooded the local airwaves--with Karl Rove's help--with misty tales of his homespun Hoosier values and empathy for the little guy is going to ensure the continuation of the species by removing any rights Mitch Daniels might've missed, and so clearing the way for an economic renaissance the likes of which haven't been seen since the Panic of 1893.
Twenty years out of date! Nobody's mentioned that Pence's idea had already been disproven by the Great Reagan Social Experiment of ten years before, nor that it hasn't gotten any fresher since then. Hell, we're one month removed from the Mourdock Teabagging victory over Dick Lugar, and his made-up shit was treated like serious policy discussion.
Meanwhile, our saviors in the Indiana Department of Public Instruction, "Dr." Tony Bennett, Superintendent, are about to turn over half of the Indianapolis Public Schools to charter operators, who have suddenly discovered that there are problems at those schools, which they'd missed when they were running well-fueled lobbying efforts over the past five years. This sudden discovery is due to the fact that what's left of IPS isn't cooperating by, say, pointing out the troublemakers ahead of time so the charters can dump 'em right back on the public schools like they've got special needs, just after the funding kicks in. Funny how before the Law took over these people had all the answers, and now they're thwarted by a refusal to share attendance records. I'm certainly no fan of the IPS administration, and its tiny residual backbone has been discovered too late, but "Hey, we're in competition, don't expect us to share trade secrets" is perhaps the funniest thing I've heard from the education sector in decades. The state--which rushed all these changes into law in order to take advantage of a clear Republican majority, and in order to seize control, torpedos be damned--was caught flat-footed, and was forced to invent the concept of "transition year", a term which hadn't been heard in any previous discussion, but now was enough--should IPS ignore it--to threaten further financial punishments. Because we're all supposed to be rooting for the kids, y'know.
So forgive me; I've heard all this before, I don't expect it to get any better, and certainly no more honest, and if anyone imagines there's the slightest concern for results, consequences, rights, or people in all of this he should be quarantined from the general populace. As if it weren't already too late.