In politics and media, dinosaurs count more than UFOs
Although I am a card-carrying, paycheck-cashing member of the mainstream media, I’ve made no secret of my dismay with reporters and editors who refuse to take a leadership role when reporting the news, and help the public sort truth from fiction. Or, as is increasingly the case with politics today, sort out serious debate and set it aside from outright lunacy.
What would you think of a political candidate who endorsed these 22 political platforms:
- Single-payer health care to provide full coverage for all Americans.
- Immediate withdrawal from Iraq, with U.S. forces replaced by an international security force.
- Guaranteed quality education for all, including free pre-kindergarten and college.
- Withdrawal from the World Trade Organization and North American Free Trade Agreement.
- Repeal of the USA Patriot Act.
- “Fostering a world of international cooperation.”
- Abolishing the death penalty.
- Encouraging environmental renewal and clean energy.
- Preventing the privatization of social security.
- Full social security benefits at age 65.
- Creating a cabinet position called “Department of Peace.”
- Ratifying the anti-nuke ABM Treaty and the pro-ecology Kyoto Protocol.
- Introducing reforms for instant runoff voting.
- Protecting a woman’s right to choose while decreasing the number of abortions performed in the U.S.
- Ending the War on Drugs.
- Legalizing same-sex marriage.
- Lowering the voting age to 16 and the drinking age to 18
- Promoting worker’s rights.
- Ending the H-1B and L-1 visa programs, which would prevent jobs in this country from going to non-American workers.
- Encouraging the economic health of rural communities and family farms.
- Strengthening gun control.
- Decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing non-medical possession.
For the record, I agree strongly with at least 20 of these 22 positions. You may not be as supportive of these views, but I think we can all agree: These are all ideas worthy of debate. And they are all positions taken during the last Democratic presidential primary by Dennis Kucinich.
You remember Kucinich, I think. All during the primary, political reporters and columnists refused to take him seriously. If the story wasn’t about Obama, Clinton and Edwards, it wasn’t worth reporting. This despite the fact that every one of Kucinich’s positions was shared by hundreds of thousands, if not a few hundred millions, of Americans. Kucinich was deemed not worthy of being taken seriously because he wasn’t backed by serious money. In fact, he was generally derisively described as the short, jug-eared fella who said he’d once seen an Unidentified Flying Object in the sky, not exactly a power base of supporters: At the time, one poll said that 14 percent of Americans admitted that they had seen a UFO.
So what are we to make of the media’s 24-hour obsession with a political figure who thinks dinosaurs and men walked the earth at the same time, rails against the Supreme Court but can’t name one decision that she disagrees with, can’t name a single newspaper or magazine that she reads, assures a disgraced pseudo-psychologist that she’s correct in using the “N-word” 11 times on her radio show while ranting at an African-American woman, claims the only “Real Americans” who die in wars live in small towns, refuses to be interviewed by serious journalists, endorses a candidate for the Senate who doesn’t know that the concept of separation of church and state is in the Constitution, claims that the fact that her house is in Alaska makes her an expert on Russia and foreign policy, makes up words and then compares herself to Shakespeare, calls conspiracy theories suggesting that Barack Obama was born in Kenya “a fair question,” opposes the 2010 health care reform package because it would lead to “death panels,” quit her job as governor of Alaska halfway through her first term, and on, and on, and on…?
OK, you’ve probably already recognized that last paragraph as a brief summary of much-discussed ideas expressed by the fact-free Sarah Palin, whose belief that humans and dinosaurs once roamed the earth together apparently came from that fine documentary series, The Flintstones. The media has determined that her every Facebook posting and Twitter is news, yet the serious Kucinich was a nut not worthy of our attention.
Perhaps Kucinich’s real problem was he saw that UFO while visiting the home of actor and psychic Shirley MacLaine. That’s also not exactly a political power base: Less than one percent of Americans have visited MacLaine’s home.