Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Road Is Paved With Lies

I found my way back to the opinion blogs at the Los Angeles Times and found a follow-up post to one published yesterday (see my post here) on the efficacy of Republican lying as the 2012 campaign begins in earnest.

This blog post is by Paul Thornton and takes up where Dan Turner left off by noting how powerful the regular use of lies can deeply affect opinion.

As my colleague Dan Turner noted previously, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's worst blunders have less to do with historical trivia than her willingness to propagate outrageous lies, including the myths of President Obama's "death panels" (which she didn't invent but was happy to retell) and that lavish trip to Asia that supposedly cost taxpayers $200 million a day. Bachmann isn't alone among fellow 2012 GOP hopefuls. Separately, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee entertained conspiracy-like theories related to Kenya; Sarah Palin midwifed the "death panels" canard; and Rick Santorum, he of "man-on-dog" infamy, accused the president of supporting infanticide.

Mythomania aside, what do they all have in common? (No, it doesn't involve Fox News' payroll.) According to a new Gallup poll, those five bomb-throwers have the biggest shares of devoted followers among the 2012 GOP field ...

That Gallup Poll, along with a handy chart setting out the numbers and listing the questions asked, can be found here and it's worth a visit. Essentially, respondents were given a list of names and asked if they recognized the names. If so, they were asked if they had favorable or unfavorable opinions of the recognized people. About the only surprise is that Sarah Palin didn't top the list.

Apparently, conservatives love them some liars, the bigger the fib, the higher the appreciation. The sad part, however, is that the tactic seems to be working, according to Thornton:

The 2012 race shaped up into a contest on the incumbent not long after Obama emptied his boxes in the Oval Office. The Romneys, Pawlentys and other less galvanizing technocrats can try to wait out this wave of GOP populism, but it has been the hyperbole and, yes, lies from the Bachmanns and Palins that have added weight to the president's falling poll numbers.

I see a contentious and ugly campaign ahead, both for the Republican nomination and for the general election. Unless, of course, our vaunted free press steps up and does a little fact checking and puts it where the public can see it.

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