This time, they really stepped in it. Republicans have gone further and further off the deep end during the last decade, insisting that just about everyone from the CBO to economists to journalists, and even to scientists, was biased against them, so no matter what you saw, read, or heard from any reliable, non-partisan source, it wasn’t really reliable or non-partisan. In other words, Republicans cannot be fact-checked, because everybody is against them; no one can be trusted.
In a word, bullshit. But it’s hard to prove. You can produce studies that show that the press is not actually biased, but what if the people creating the study are biased? Forget about global warming – the unbelievers won’t listen long enough to be convinced, and the evidence involves all this data, and models. Very confusing. Debunking their BS means getting them to pay attention, and it just won’t happen.
But this year, Republicans decided that pollsters were just as unprofessional as judges, scientists, reporters, professors, accountants, and tax experts. And that can be checked, in a way that even the average Fox News loyalist can grasp.
As of Saturday, November 3, Dean Chambers at Unskewed Polls had Romney winning 317 electoral votes. By Monday night, he had rather hilariously switched eight states, including one that was formerly lean Republican, from various lesser statuses to Solid Democratic, which still left Romney with “only” every swing state but Nevada, plus Wisconsin and Michigan for 311 electoral votes.
Conservatives hung their hats on this guy, and they belittled the alleged Obama-loving math geeks – particularly Nate Silver – who said the Unskewer was a phony. And this time we have a quick answer that anyone can understand: Unskewed Polls was bullshit, complete and utter crap. Today he admitted as much.
And I think it’s past time that we, and the media, stopped pretending that we have to answer to all these charges of bias and incompetence on the part of experts and professionals. I’m calling bullshit on the whole concept. You’ve been debunked across the board by fact checkers, non-partisan experts, studies and investigations, and by the way more than half the country suffered from drought this year and the Arctic ice is melting. I don’t want to hear one more Congressman explain how he knows more about climate change than the scientists with PhD’s who study it for a living. Next time you say the experts are wrong, let’s remember the Unskewer; then we’ll all agree that you don’t know what you’re talking about. End of discussion.
Enabling the Lies
There are a couple of reasons, beyond working the referees, that dismissing all areas of expertise has become so fundamental to the Republican Party. The first is that dishonesty in all forms – outright lying, misleading, secrecy, and more – is not just something Republicans resort to when cornered. It has become a pillar of their entire platform; along with Fox News and the unchecked flow of billionaire money, the ability to lie repeatedly is critical to propping up a political direction that strays further and further from reality every year. The problem is that they keep getting called out on their lies by leaders in every field, and they know that this will continue. What to do? Play to the darkest fears of their base: Everyone is out to get you. There is no reality, there are no facts, objective standards don’t exist. Anything we say is true, because you cannot trust anyone who says it isn’t.
The second goal is more insidious: If no one can be trusted to act impartially, it creates a rationale for government to inject itself into of every form of activity. This is not just some Orwellian fantasy; the Bush Administration took politics further into formerly non-political arenas than it had ever gone. Federal scientific studies were reviewed and altered by politicians. The Department of Justice became a partner in the efforts to redefine torture and to pursue the purely political myth of voter fraud. Even the question of whether the Vice President is part of the Executive Branch became a political debate. It’s a grasp for power, and we know that Republicans intend to use it.
And in the End…
…Nate Silver and the poll aggregators and the pollsters were right, and your guy crashed and burned. He will live in infamy for a short while, and then fade into obscurity as you try to never mention him again.
But we aren’t going to let you forget. We’re calling bullshit on you.