Politics makes people stupid even in good times. Fear provokes irrationality. Given the parlous state of the U.S. economy, it's no surprise that the national conversation has grown shrill. Even so, the level of vituperation and unreason comes as a continuing revelation.
Not that I'm complaining. As a native of New Jersey, the Insult State (official motto: "Oh yeah, who says?"), there's no level of invective to which I can't sink. Anybody who writes provocatively shouldn't complain when readers are provoked. Besides, it's less the anger than the sheer, boneheaded illogic that amazes me.
No shit. How can people be so stupid?
That is, I favor raising marginal income-tax rates on millionaires from 35 to 39.6 percent. Therefore, I must be a communist who advocates the abolition of private enterprise, the confiscation of private property, and the redistribution of wealth to lazy people who won't work.
"Do you get paid under the table by the Democrat Party to spew your hatred of capitalism," asks one fellow, "or is it that you have some deep-seated psychopathic (sic) scars based on the choices you made that limit your economic achievements?"
"Good work, comrade," I responded. "Your regurgitation of party dogma is letter-perfect. In the USSR, they actually got to the point of declaring people who failed to conform 100 percent mentally ill."
The irony was most likely lost on him.
Then there's the argumentum ad populum, another favorite of talk-radio fans: somebody with a big audience must be correct. Furthermore -- motive again -- I must be jealous of their success.
That's pretty much like saying Rush Limbaugh's jealous of President Obama. You buy that?
Look, these guys are playing you for suckers. They're reading scripts written to trick you into believing that the bigger Scrooge McDuck's bullion pile is, the better it is for you. Take away the call screeners and the mute buttons, and most of them wouldn't last two weeks. Talk radio is the political equivalent of wrestling.
Gee, Gene, thanks for the visual of Rushbo in speedos and skin all oiled to a glistening sheen. Runnin' low on bleach again...