Who is to blame?

Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle merite.” – Joseph de Maistre, Lettres et Opuscules Inedits vol. 1, letter 53, 15 August 1811

CNN actually just ran a line across the bottom of my television: “Is Paula Deen’s diet to blame?” Well, I am no physician or dietician, but I’m thinking it didn’t exactly help with keeping her diabetes at bay. Eight pounds of butter and three cups of sugar1 isn’t the best way to stay healthy. Hey CNN, the answer you are looking for is “no.” It would have been more accurate if CNN had asked “Is Paula Deen to blame?” The answer to that would be “yes.”

I want to run 7 minute miles for 26.2 of them. If I don’t2 is anyone going to ask “Is Sublimemonkey’s training to blame?” No, my training isn’t to blame, I am the reason I don’t run that quick. I don’t do enough speed work. I don’t force myself to run that pace for extended periods. I am too lazy. I may want a 7 minute mile pace, but I really don’t want it bad enough to train at that level. I’m responsible for my slow-ass running.

Being responsible for one’s actions is something a lot of us can’t seem to master. Paula Deen’s diabetes is her fault, and if your diet consists of her recipes, then your future diabetes is your own fault. Honestly, I don’t care if Paula Deen has diabetes3. I do care that the media would actually ask what is to blame instead of who is to blame. That is a stupid question.

Stupid questions seem to be par for today’s news. Another screaming example of the media asking a stupid question is one asked in the title of a Washington Post article.4 Joel Achen pondered if Jon Huntsman wasn’t toxic enough for GOP conservative and evangelical voters. Achen calls Huntsman “congenial, good-looking,5 moderate, mild-mannered, and manicured.” Other than the good-looking, it would seem that these would be attractive qualities in a presidential attributes… he speaks Mandarin Chinese and that sounds like a very good indication of intellect, but of course we aren’t talking about presidential candidates with intellect.

Achen argues that Huntsman tried to fill a “niche” that Mitt Romney was already occupying, and Huntsman’s agenda seemed to be a light-beer commercial. Huntsman wasn’t “firewater” enough. Huntsman’s campaign was supposedly an insurgency against a frontrunner. It almost seems as if Huntsman’s pockets weren’t deep enough. Achen argued that Huntsman was aligning himself for a cabinet position. Achen recommended revolution talk, but states that Huntsman talked reform.6 In my words, not Achen’s … seems Huntsman was too damn boring for the GOP.7 Achen says “not toxic enough.”

Pondering Huntsman’s “toxic” level isn’t something in my purview. However, GOP voters looking for toxic candidates doesn’t seem logical, but it is not my place to question why voters choose the politicians they do. Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, however, have been trying to understand voter behavior since the presidential election of 1948 and conducted an analysis in the 1950’s, which still guides thinking about voter behavior, and determined that:

“… independents were not the thoughtful and informed voters most observers assumed them to be, but instead were less interested and engaged than partisans, and the average voter was surprisingly unsophisticated as most citizens didn’t make their voting decisions based on policy questions, nor did they hold consistently liberal or conservative views across issues.”8

Analysis of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections shows that “… negative perceptions of Democratic candidates Al Gore and John Kerry were more pivotal in putting a Republican in the White House than were positive perceptions of George Bush.”9 Seems, negative (attack) ads helps in getting one elected. If it works, why do anything else.

Campaign “firewater” gets the masses active. Nothing tastes like “firewater” than attacking your opponent. The GOP presidential nomination process thus far has been one Hell of a “firewater” drinking contest. A toxic candidate, however, may not win come November 2012. A toxic GOP candidate may be exactly what the Democratic Party is hoping for.

In the end, GOP voters will be the only ones to blame. You can’t blame me, I live in the District of Columbia and I have no vote.10 You can, however, blame Paula Deen for her diabetes, and you can blame me for my slug-like approach to running.

1. The ingredients in every Paula Deen recipe, or pretty damn close.

2. I don’t.

3. Paula Deen’s diabetes does seem sort of like poetic justice though. Fortunately she is rich enough … by selling diabetes-increasing recipe books … to pay for the best medical care possible.

4. Again, there is no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid people. The media is full of stupid people like everywhere else. Joel Achen, “Huntsman: Not toxic enough?” Achenblog, The Washington Post, January 17, 2012, A4.

5. I have an elderly aunt who thinks President George W. Bush was attractive. This sentiment isn’t what disturbed me, the way she said it to me, in a schoolgirl way, is what disturbed me.

6. I wonder when reform became impractical and revolution became necessary.

7. Romney may be too plastic. Newt too full of shit. Paul too full of crazy. Santorum too full of hate… okay, maybe Santorum’s hate isn’t too much for a lot of GOP and evangelical voters … but too full of it for the majority.

8. To avoid plagiarism charges, here is the link to this information. Of course, those of you with a hatred for all things academic or intellectual, this is obviously a slanted study and should be completely disregarded… you know WTF you’re doing in the voting booth and don’t let some academic egghead tell you otherwise.

9. Ibid., again to avoid plagiarism charges.

10. Taxation without representation!

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