November 15, 2012

Word Of The Day: Truthiness

Frank Rich the Editor-at-large of New York Magazine writes about truthiness  
Frank Rich’s New York Magazine article “Fantasyland” is a must read!

I don’t gush about anyone very often, and I’m not easily impressed. If I do gush and get excited about something, my interests tend to veer toward what many might consider to be geeky or nerdy, and so be it.

Frank Rich is a writer and editor of New York Magazine. For many years he was the theater critic for the New York Times (1980-1993), and then spent years as an op-ed columnist (1994-2011) for the newspaper. During his years as a theater critic, his reviews would make or break a show. He was celebrated in some quarters, and largely reviled by those who loved the theater. In retrospect, he was probably right more times than he was wrong - but because of the power he could wield with the stroke of his pen, he wasn’t a popular figure in the arts world.

When Frank Rich started writing op-eds, I came to appreciate his writing. In my view, his opinion pieces revealed that he was compassionate and empathetic, factual and logical, and largely objective about the subject matters he covered, past and present.

After reading his essays for years, I think that Frank Rich is a brilliant writer. While I didn’t love his theater criticism, I’ve come to value his writing and opinion related to politics and culture. His New York Magazine piece that’s entitled “Fantasyland” is excellent, and I highly recommend that you read it.
   
Dictionary.com definition of truthiness
In “Fantasyland,” Rich writes about Election 2012, the campaign of Willard Mitt Romney, and the Republican party’s penchant to deny the truth and use lies, fuzzy math, and extreme hyperbole, to sell the GOP brand to the American people.

Frank Rich truly hit a homerun - and “Fantasyland” is a must read article - that I can’t help but gush about.  
Though Romney has no political heirs in his own party or elsewhere, he does leave behind a cultural legacy of sorts. He raised Truthiness to a level of chutzpah beyond Stephen Colbert’s fertile imagination, and on the grandest scale. That a presidential hopeful so cavalierly mendacious could get so close to the White House, winning some 48 percent of the popular vote, is no small accomplishment. The American weakness that Romney both apotheosized and exploited in achieving this feat—our post-fact syndrome where anyone on the public stage can make up anything and usually get away with it—won’t disappear with him. A slicker liar could have won, and still might.

All politicians lie, and some of them, as Bob Kerrey famously said of Bill Clinton in 1996, are “unusually good” at it. Every campaign (certainly including Obama’s) puts up ads that stretch or obliterate the truth. But Romney’s record was exceptional by any standard. The blogger Steve Benen, who meticulously curated and documented Mitt’s false statements during 2012, clocked a total of 917 as Election Day arrived. Those lies, which reached a crescendo with the last-ditch ads accusing a bailed-out Chrysler of planning to ship American jobs to China, are not to be confused with the Romney flip-flops. The Etch-A-Sketches were a phenomenon of their own; if the left and right agreed about anything this year, it was that trying to pin down where Mitt “really” stood on any subject was a fool’s errand.

We never did see those tax returns. We never did learn the numbers that might validate the Romney-Ryan budget. Given that Romney had about as much of a human touch with voters as an ATM, it sometimes seemed as if a hologram were running for president. Yet some 57 million Americans took him seriously enough to drag themselves to the polls and vote for a duplicitous cipher.
What some call “truthiness,” I call an outright lie.

I understand that politicians are often asked questions where they don’t know an answer, and how refreshing would it be if they said “I don’t know” or anything more honest?

It is beyond baffling that Romney lied so much and so often. It is beyond comprehension that Paul Ryan lied so much and so often. I’m sure that the President lied, but he didn’t do it with the frequency and audaciousness that the GOP did.

It’s one thing to lie because you think you know the facts. It’s different when the facts are revealed, and then a candidate consciously decides to lie and ignore those facts because it suits their campaign narrative.

We almost elected the biggest liar to ever run for President, and that’s very frightening.

What do you think?


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