American politics, all pandering, all access-seeking, all childish nonsense, all the time
Trust is the union of intelligence and integrity.~~Yogi Tea Bag Tab, Lemon Ginger
I have a short story. I’m not in first hand knowledge of all the information about how this actually went down. My knowledge of this matter is from news reports and Twitter, but I have had several years of experience with many of the players. This is a true story but I didn’t eye witness it in person so you can categorize this as historical fiction if you wish.
A guy I know got himself into hot water with a local politician and his political group. To make the story easier to follow, and to protect the innocent or guilty, I’m going to change the names. I’ll call the guy “Mike.” I’ll call his political group “Hurray Democrats!” I’ll call the local politician “Ham Stadium.”
Mike didn’t respect the police for a few perhaps goofy reasons, but also many legitimate reasons now evident on computer screens every day and sometimes on television screens when the mainstream media cannot avoid the issue. After a police incident that left two officers dead, Mike wrote a crass comment about the incident on Twitter. In short, the officers were pursuing a person on the train tracks. They seemed to have noticed a train running one way but not the train in the other direction. (The local commuter rail authority is always reminding passengers of this issue.) Also, the officers may have broken protocol by failing to inform the commuter train authority of their action on the tracks. Turns out, the alleged perp was merely test firing a gun and did not shoot or attempt to shoot anybody. By accounts of the department and union, upon viewing the body cams, it was a cluster as well as an unnecessary tragedy.
In his tweet, Mike blamed the officers for their own deaths. I’m not defending the comment. It was crass and ill-timed because two human beings were dead. I would not have written it, but arguably, it had the potential to raise the much-needed discussion about overly fanatical police enforcement before George Floyd died and millions justifiably streamed into the streets in a pandemic to make a similar point.
After the comment hit Twitter, the police union and its boosters got wind of it, and went to the local press. The media complied by publishing scathing replies to Mike’s comment, with no journalistic integrity in the sense that the stories were all one-sided, outrage against Mike. Not one of the stories raised the issue of why Mike may have made the comment, why Mike had disrespect for the police, or even whether the officers may have at least, in part, contributed to their own deaths, questioning their training, questioning the motive and tactics against the alleged perpetrator they were pursuing at the time or how the police could do better to prevent needless deaths in the future.
Of course, Ham Stadium didn’t raise any of these questions or simply say “no comment” when asked for a quote. He had to jump into the fray because that’s what politicians do. He publicly castigated Mike, and at least for the time of the political circus that ensued, kicked him off all future campaigns. Hurray Democrats! immediately and completely disavowed Mike, their long-time loyalist. Then, additional minor politicians jumped on the bandwagon to get some pro-law enforcement press for themselves. (As an aside and I do have personal knowledge of this: no one cared much about Mike’s Twitter feed when confronted with some of his earlier offensive tweets on other topics).
Rather than stick by his comment, or even attempt to explain his position on the police in any meaningful detail, Mike folded. He published some stock message of contrition that could have been written by some junior version of an Olivia Pope wannabe. The opportunity for any serious discussion about the incident was thrown away by all involved.
While this story is about some local political hacks playing the game of access to the system and to the media, it’s also a story about all of the lost opportunities for serious discussion that goes on all of the time and everywhere, and more so at much higher levels.
In the Democratic debates, Kamala Harris was aghast at Joe Biden’s record on matters involving race. She told her personal story and looked Joe in the eye challenging him. It was great theatre. Now that she’s being considered for Biden’ VP she thinks Joe’s just great. She said something to the effect of “that was just the debates,” as she scoffed at criticism of her pandering. Does Harris want to have a serious discussion about race or does she not? Safe bet, not.
House Democrats used the COVID-19 crisis to shower wealthy corporate contributors with our tax dollars. Few are asking questions about that because it’s “vote blue no matter who,” or basically, you have no say because we boxed you in. It’s Trump or us. The general COVID-19 debate in this country has little to do with health or science and a lot to do with party loyalty and whether or not wearing a mask, proven to slow down spread of the disease, is brave or cowardly or bad looking. We’re at the point of ridiculousness.
In this manner, we don’t talk about race, law, law enforcement, economics or health care or even matters of life or death. It’s all slogans, all pandering, all access-seeking, all childish nonsense all the time. No wonder the place is falling apart.