Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bread And Circuses From The Rs And The Ds

Both Democrats and Republicans say they want to discuss substantive issues; it's that other party which seeks to distract the conversation with trivial controversies. Both are wrong, and right. And two examples this week, one from each party, reveals the sorry state of political debate among the parties.

Lets start with the GOP: Fox News published a melodramatic claim by the McCain campaign that Democrats left thousands of American flags used in their convention in the trash. McCain supporters waved the flags allegedly rescued.

The move was an overt swipe at Obama from a campaign whose motto has been “country first.” But Democratic convention organizers claimed the flags were not going to be discarded — but instead were snatched from the site of Obama’s historic address to carry out a “cheap political stunt.”

McCain supporters said the flags were discovered by a vendor at Denver’s Invesco Field after the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention. The vendor supposedly found trash bags full of flags in and near garbage bins, and turned them over to the McCain campaign.

This is one of the stories both parties use to strengthen their narrative. It has nothing to do with issues, everything with perceptions. But David Harsanyi, columnist for the Denver Post, did a little more digging. He talked with the person who found the flags:

He thinks both sides are exaggerating a bit. He claims the majority of the bags with flags were near the trash and it was probably an "oversight" by the Democrats rather than a nefarious plot against the flag, but he doesn't believe anyone was coming to get them. "The flags were there for a week and a day and no one came looking for them," the person said.

* * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, Democrats and the left are having fun with an even more meaningless story: the apparent glitch in putting the Los Angeles-area Walter Reed Middle School on the screen behind McCain. (The McCain campaign denies there was any mistake, but just what connection the school has to McCain remains a mystery)

The lefty blog Talking Points Memo speculated that the GOP intended to put Walter Reed Medical Center on the screen, but the tech guys grabbed the wrong image:

One other interesting development: The California Democratic Party is actually holding a press conference in front of the school within minutes, where Dems will hit McCain for not knowing the difference between the school and Walter Reed Medical Center, which is believed to be the backdrop the McCain campaign really wanted. . .

Late update: Shortly after posting this, we got an email from Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Tamar Galatzan who represents Walter Reed as part of her district. She had her own thoughts on McCain's use of the middle school:

"Though I am flattered that Senator McCain chose to use a school from my district as backdrop to his remarks at the Republican National Convention, I wished he had checked with me first. As a strong believer in public education, I don't think the Senator is the most appropriate person to showcase one of the premier schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is unwilling to bring fairness and equity to No Child Left Behind and ensure that schools like Reed get the resources they need from the Federal Government. From what I've heard, that's not a priority for the McCain/Palin ticket."

There you have it: The two main parties of the world's most important democracy are busying themselves with meaningless posturing and attacking. Meanwhile, the economy continues to deteriorate. Jobs are being lost and mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are being taken over and bailed out.

As cassandra pointed out in the comments to the last thread, we are getting the grim truth from the likes of the Housing Bubble Blog. I would add Mike "Mish" Shedlock, who writes for Minyanville and on his own blog, Global Economic Analysis. There, the facts are being laid out that the Democratic and Republican national leaderships won't honestly discuss with the public.

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