WE COULD MAKE BELIEVE

We Could Make Believe

The highlight of the television viewing week came Wednesday night as we watched Ann Coulter try to out-shout Sean Hannity. She was trying to persuade him that the Republicans had lost the recent election. He was trying to persuade her that the Republicans had won: only look at the results in the House of Representatives.

They were evenly matched. One, a recent arrival from Republican wish-land, sobered by the November loss and trying to convince Mr. Hannity that the Republicans had to make soothing sounds, at least for a while. The other, a willing promulgator of the Fox News point of view, hued strictly to his own party line, for which in some small part he was responsible.

Back to that battle in a moment. Meanwhile, we need to keep our eye on the president, gallivanting around the countryside trying (still!) to sell his plan for raising revenue and changing the tax code.

Mr. Obama too seems to inhabit, at least temporarily, a land where wishes come true simply by repeating them over and over again.

Rather than stay in Washington and work hard at finding a genuine compromise to the nation’s financial woes, and those to come, the president chose to take to the road where everyone seems to love him instead of slugging it out in small rooms with people who don’t.

For our money, Mr. Obama is living in dreamland as well as Ms. Coulter and Mr. Hannity.

The president doesn’t need to sell this plan. The voters ratified his second term based largely on his economic promises. He was believed. And he still is, according to recent polls.

What he needs to do, and what he is apparently not comfortable doing, is sit face to face with the opposition and persuade them that what he wants is the will of the people. The Republicans will not believe this, any more than Mr. Hannity can believe they lost the election.

As for living in fantasy land, to a large degree that country was discovered and developed by Fox News, which has become not a news organization at all but a gigantic lobbying organization pretending to be journalists.

This comes as no news to people who tune in Fox News. Many do so because they know that what they’re going to see and hear reconciles with their own points of view. Fox is giving the right wing’s whispy dreams the solidity of seeming legitimacy.

Many Fox viewers live in parts of the country that do not have a choice of news outlets. Cable companies after all strive for monopolies.

Many tune in Fox News, oddly enough, because they read Fox News in putative best-sellers by its quote personalities, or anchors, or consultants.

And what of the more liberal general press, including network news, newspapers, cable, and the social media?

Aren’t they too living to a degree in a make-believe world? Their attitudes have developed into ridicule for Fox, but worse, they have given airtime, and print, to its claims and partisan arguments. Humor and satire have long been held to the best weapons to puncture pomposity, like Hannity’s or Bill O’Riley’s or even, now, Rick Santorum’s.

Mr. Santorum has signed on with a right-wing, hate mongering blog we presume for a considerable sum. Some liberal commentators have already blamed him for the week’s defeat in the Senate of the Treaty on Disabilities sponsored by the United Nations.

Santorum has joined a chorus of paranoid constituents to promote the long-held suspicion of many Republicans towards the United Nations. He was able to lobby for and convince 38 senators that the treaty would allow the UN to cross our borders and steal our disabled children for purposes unknown. This despite the opposition of John McCain, John Kerry, and Bob Dole, not to mention 61 Democrats in the Senate who clearly think this treaty raises standards for dealing with the disabled world-wide as we in this country have done since the inception of the legislation that finally gave disabled people rights of access to buildings, education, and the pursuit of liberty. In fact, the new UN treaty’s language is in many cases a direct copy of our own.

Rather than being alarmed, we should be flattered and pleased. And so should the Senate have been.

Returning to the idea that Fox News is a second or third rate source of real news, the liberal media refuses to believe that it can have the kind of influence that it does. But behind the buxom, beauteous consultants sharing the screen with its anchors, is a simple idea: simply, it is to excite, worry, terrify, and keep the Big Lie going.

And since the entire Republican campaign was waged using the Big Lie as an effective weapon against reality, and since the Republicans still cannot accept their loss, rather than change their approach to politics in a divided nation, Fox clearly has decided to double down and keep hard at it. And keeping hard at it pays off.

The games people play in Washington, ignoring the voters’ concerns, could not have been better illustrated than by the ploy Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell tried to foist on the eve of Pearl Harbor Day on the  Senate. Thinking that he could force the Democrats to vote against one of their long held goals by calling for an immediate vote, he was outflanked by Harry Reid who said, in effect, swell, let’s vote.

That so stunned McConnell that he backtracked, insisting that matters of such importance be dealt with by a 60 per cent filibuster proof margin. Which is to say, McConnell took time to offer legislation, then fearing it would actually pass, he wanted to vote against his own motion. And did.

The big question of the day is where do these people think they’re living? And if pressed could they honestly say they were going about the people’s business?

Reality in politics is certainly on the decline. On both sides.

And after all this, who’s to say the world in which we live isn’t just as make-believe as everyone else’s?

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