Take Me Out of the Ball Game

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.

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About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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One Response to Take Me Out of the Ball Game

  1. JP says:

    Good post (one typo; I think you meant Pat Roberston), you’re almost sounding like me!
    I think it shows what a good job the far right has done of scaring what was once the mainstream media. For a generation they have demonized them as being on the side of the liberals, as having a liberal media conspiracy. Eventually that meme won out, and though it isn’t true they bend over backwards to not offend the right, less they add more fuel to the fire that there was a left-wing conspiracy.
    My favorite cave was from factcheck.org, whom you cite, and which caused me to lose all respect for them. Last year they named the biggest lie of the year as being the Democrats saying that the Ryan budget ends Medicare as we know it. When pressed, they admitted, okay, maybe it really does, but they wanted to pick a Democratic lie this year as the last two years they’d had Republican lies as the biggest lies of the year, and they were afraid if they went three years in a row with a Republican lie they would look partisan–never mind what is actually a lie and what isn’t. That doesn’t even matter to the umpires, and therein lies a big part of our problem. It’s like when a baseball umpire is really afraid of one team’s manager but not the other, and he starts making calls that favor the guy he is afraid of.

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