On the Diane Rehm show yesterday morning on NPR, Susan Page of USA Today commented, “there is no umpire,” regarding behavior of the political parties. And how nice that would be, when a partisan stepped over the line with excessive snark, rudeness, or an uncalled for insult. But this would be most effective for lies and half-truths. All of these infarctions sorely need something more than a finger-wag.
John Roberts told congress his office should “call balls and strikes.” I’m not too sure this happened in Citizens United; it unleashed a torrent of violations. The right media spew needs an umpire. The comments made all over the internet, and in reactions to various columns need an umpire. We all need an umpire!
Seriously, these figures do exist. There was a day, not that long ago, when our culture moderated itself. People made a genuine effort to speak the truth, to be courteous and diplomatic. There was a thing called “the Mainstream Media,” which purported to be neutral and speak from a sensible middle of the road. Crazy and extreme talk was exactly that. We do have “factcheck.org,” and related web sites too. All of these umpires, however, are subject to the criticism, conspiracy theories, and ridicule of oddballs with a something to gain.
Isaac, now a hurricane, threatened Tampa and cut 25% off of the Republican Convention. Then it headed straight for New Orleans, to make another point exactly seven years after Katrina. Wouldn’t Pat Robertson – if he were a legitimate umpire – say this is a divine sign, to remind us about Republicans? We got one ball, to be followed by a strike.
We are reminded of Mitt’s dad, who tried to umpire his Republican convention, walking out after Goldwater barked out, “I would remind you that extremism in defense of liberty is no vice!” Son Mitt clearly has no umpire. He just becomes whoever his party needs him to be: Tea Party overseer, moderate, Protector of the Rich, dog kennel transporter, and so forth.