Thursday, 15 July 2004

Outrage Fatigue

There have been times when I've been presented with evidence that suggests some impropriety on the part of our current administration which makes me wonder how anyone could believe that there is not ill intent behind it. On those occasions I sometimes envision our leaders behind closed doors debating amongst themselves about how they can "get away with" some rather outrageous deception or trampling on the rights of their enemies. "Oh no, the American people just couldn't tolerate that" I imagine someone saying. "I think we'll be OK;" I imagine Karl Rove countering, "look at the scandals that have hurt us so far. They are the milder believable ones. The American people just aren't willing to even believe their elected officials will go this far. We'll deny it, and it will be the people claiming that it's true who come off looking like hateful crazies for making such outrageous claims. Any mainstream Democrats who dare join the bandwagon will be jumped on by our squeaky clean supporters who we've completely hoodwinked, while we leak dirt on them to our allies in the media."

I make no claims to know that such conversations actually occur. It's hard enough evaluating the veracity of all the various sources that are out there, such as this expose on Karl Rove. It's frequently possible to cherry pick the truth to make a case for or against all kinds of claims about the abuse of power, whether you are the Bush administration supporting claims about WMD or Michael Moore implying sinister motives behind the fundamental policies of Bush & Company. People on both sides go over the top to be sure, but it's not as simple as some would like you to believe to know just when that happens. There's a lot of earnest self-deception that plays a big role. It can be exhausting to do the footwork to get to reasonable educated guesses about what is true in the halls of power, but that should be the role of the media, and reasonable people of all political stripes should be concerned about the concentration of media ownership in the hands of fewer and fewer moneyed interest. The Onion humorously "reports" on the burnout and subsequent outrage fatigue that some of us fight with the constant barrage of information overload and suggestions of wrongdoing. I'll continue to fight mine, at least until November.

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