Butler County Times Gazette
  • Kent Bush: Election cycle headed toward outrage

  • It takes a lot of outrage to keep you yelling every day.
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  • It takes a lot of outrage to keep you yelling every day.
    Thankfully, the 2012 Presidential campaign is in full swing and there are plenty of minor details on which the spotlight of indignation may fall.
    The best thing about all of this wit and wisdom, froth and fervor, and venom and vitriol is that 99.2 percent of it merely arms the already decided voters for more interesting Facebook tirades.
    Seriously, how many moderates and conservatives tune in to Rachael Maddow? How many liberals have their AM radios dialed in to Rush Limbaugh?
    In religious circles, it is called preaching to the choir. It is merely a way to keep the most devoted followers engaged.
    The list of Republicans Maddow has won over with her reporting would not be impressive. Rush's red meat radio probably isn't responsible for many liberal conversions either.
    But they do keep their followers revved up. And each day's reports give the guys and gals on the other end of the political spectrum more targets for charges of hypocrisy, propaganda and dishonesty.
    Let's look at some of the fuel keeping the outrage machines running.
    • Obama is the most pro-life candidate in the 2012 election. That sounds absurd. It probably is. But one write for an independent Catholic publication makes a case to back the claim and anger pundits all over. Law Professor Nicholas Cafardi wrote in the National Catholic Reporter that the policies of President Barack Obama actually lead to fewer abortions than those backed by Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
    "Any honest analysis of the facts shows the situation is much more complicated than that. For example, Obama's Affordable Care Act does not pay for abortions. In Massachusetts, Romney's health care law does," he wrote. "Obama favors, and included in the Affordable Care Act, $250 million of support for vulnerable pregnant women and alternatives to abortion. This support will make abortions much less likely, since most abortions are economic. Romney, however, has endorsed Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan's budget, which will cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of the federal plans that support poor women. The undoubted effect: The number of abortions in the United States will increase. On these facts, Obama is much more pro-life than Romney."
    Cafardi also claims that Romney's investment group owned a company that disposed of aborted fetuses and, thus, Romney personally profited from abortions.
    Sure the logic is thin, but I bet this isn't the last time you hear about it.
    • Speaker of the House John Boehner did his best to fuel the conversation for pundits of all affections this week when he appeared to call TEA Party affiliated House members "knuckle-draggers."
    Boehner was doing his best to defend newly named Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan against charges of being a radical fiscal conservative.
    Page 2 of 2 - So Boehner pointed out that Ryan supported the TARP bailout plans as proof that he is reasonable. Those who voted against TARP, mainly TEA Party backed members of Boehner's own caucus, apparently aren't as reasonable – and may have calloused knuckles.
    "I mean, I think that he's a practical conservative. He's got a very conservative voting record, but he's not a knuckle-dragger, all right?" Boehner said to the dismay or right-wing reporters and the delight of those who lean left.
    • And perhaps nothing fuels discussion on both sides of the spectrum more than an apparent defector. If you can get a Republican to criticize a Republican, or a Democrat to ding a Democrat, that is ratings gold.
    Mark McKinnon, an advisor to President George W. Bush, was glad to help out recently. After Romney picked Ryan as a running mate, McKinnon was quick to point out that the pick was exciting, inspirational and probably fatal.
    "I think it's a very bold choice. And an exciting and interesting pick. It's going to elevate the campaign into a debate over big ideas. It means Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party," McKinnon said – with an obvious "but" coming. "And probably lose. Maybe big."
    With friends like these, who needs enemies? This kind of knife in the back comment is one of the main reasons the TEA Party exists. Republicans run against Democrats. But TEA Party members put just as large a target on "establishment" Republicans who they see as inhibiting the party's progress.
    I wonder how long it will be before McKinnon is on FOX News walking back these comments and praising Ryan?
    It only took Dick Cheney a few days to recant his statement calling Sarah Palin a mistake.
    Either way, this election cycle appears to be headed toward a record for outrage if nothing else. If you aren't enjoying the scandal of the hour, don't worry.
    There will be another one coming along any minute.
    Kent Bush is the Augusta Gazette Publisher, a columnist and blogger for the GateHouse Media Network. He can be contacted at publisher@augustagazette.com.

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