Like Toy Soldiers
by Jen Green
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. I Corinthians 13:1
“Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matt. 9:13
Truth can be inconvenient. Once we know it, we are required to act upon it. For many, they would prefer to remain ignorant or naïve, bunkered down and free from any responsibility knowing the truth imparts.
To those readers/listeners who have been with us since 2007-8, (e.g. the last presidential primary) what you are about to read is nothing new. You have been around this mountain before and may or may not have learned this lesson. Even if you have, it’s important and bears repeating, especially since we go through this every four years.
When it comes to the media, Trust No One. When it comes to the media telling the truth about Mitt Romney, trust even fewer than that.
I thought I had learned my lesson . . . but here I am again, finding myself completely dumbfounded and disappointed in media figures that I wanted to believe were above the lies. Turns out I was wrong . . again.
Years ago as a teaching assistant getting a master’s degree in Rhetoric at Clemson University, I used to teach English 101 and 102. We were allowed a certain leeway in designing our classes, as long as we included the mandatory hoops and standards provided by the English department. My studies were largely in the area of classical rhetoric and argumentation, so for the sake of practicality I included much of that in my teaching plan for my students.
Each week on Friday, I would bring in an “argument” article written by a columnist or opinion editor. I would black out the author’s name and the title of the publication in which it was published. I had my students study and critique the article based on the author’s use of logos (logic), ethos (credibility), and pathos; I had them search for fallacies, and finally, I asked them if they were or were not convinced by the argument.
What my students didn’t know was that every single article I brought in was written by a “conservative author” in a “conservative publication.” (One Friday my very liberal teaching advisor observed my class performing this task. After, she praised my teaching, but added, “I know what you’re doing, by the way.”) She was right. I was trying to balance out the liberalism the students marinated in every day.
My favorite author for this exercise was none other than Charles Krauthammer. His arguments were crisp, clean, balanced, and impeccable. I’m sure my students learned more from reading his thought development than they ever did from my teaching. And because of my personal affinity for Mr. Krauthammer, for years I ignored the signs that he was simply an establishment hack. A very well-educated and highly-intelligent hack, but one nonetheless.
In this Washington Post piece, he goes so far as to say that Romney is a “center-right, classic Northeastern Republican who, over time, has adopted a specific, quite bold, thoroughly His entitlement reform, for example, is more courageous than that of any candidate, including Barack Obama.”
Over time? Sure—about the time he decided he wanted to run for president. He’s been doing it for five years, so he’s had plenty of time to refine his message . . . except he hasn’t. And that pesky record of his keeps popping back up to bite him. Yet, here’s Krauthammer extolling Romney’s virtues, calling Gingrich “dead,” “done”, and “unelectable” until his own bubble was burst last Saturday as the results of the South Carolina Primary rolled in.
They all fall down, my toy soldiers.
The next to fall was more difficult to accept, and to be honest, I’m still holding out a little hope for this one. Ten years ago, right around the time my daughter was born, I started reading and re-reading all things Ronald Reagan. Hands down, my favorite book about my favorite president was by Peggy Noonan, his former speechwriter. When Character Was King is a poignant, superbly written account of Reagan by a woman who obviously respected and adored him. The final chapter made me cry. After reading it, I searched bookstores for any and all of her books. I started reading her column, I watched for her on television news shows. Quite simply, I wanted to be like her.
In 2007, she wrote an article that was critical of Mike Huckabee, whom I was supporting. I wrote her a polite email, correcting her on several points. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, because she later admitted to being swamped with complaints and masterfully turned her criticism into compliments but re-stated she did not believe him to be a leader.
I was okay with her stance—mostly because she never carried water for Romney. This year, she seems to be “leaning” Romney. She’s definitely not a fan of Gingrich’s. She’s said Romney’s “win” in Iowa was “underappreciated,” she says that Gingrich “makes Romney better” with his attacks, she called Gingrich an “angry little attack muffin” and that we should not “underestimate” Romney.
Yesterday, both Krauthammer and Noonan decried the current state of the GOP race (read: Romney tanking in the polls), saying that because “all eyes are on Romney’s taxes” we’ll “lose this thing” while Barack Obama continues to destroy the country.
The final toy soldier to fall was the venerable former Fox News anchor Brit Hume. Long a favorite of my dad’s and mine, I remember watching him give his Christian testimony in an interview shortly after he retired. His story about son’s suicide brought tears to my eyes, and to hear him attribute God’s grace with helping him through it was inspiring.
Then last Saturday, I listened in horror while discussing the South Carolina primary results on Fox News, he essentially gave the talking points of the Mitt Romney campaign. He said “republicans in office would be terrified to run with Gingrich” and will instead, “try to beat him.” He said a Gingrich nomination would ensure Republicans losing the Congress. Such fear mongering is expected from the left, but good grief—Brit Hume on Fox News? Et tu, Brit-e?
I admit, I let emotion get in the way and I trusted all three of these people because of a real or perceived connection with them. They know we all do it to a certain extent–and they take advantage of it (that’s their job!).
I’ll also admit even more—finding out they are mere mortals was a disappointment. But, my eyes are open and now I see—everyone, EVERYONE who writes about politics has an agenda. (Even me!) The trick is to identify the agenda, and discern if it is good or bad.
A search for the truth, explanation of fact, critique of record and stances: good.
Whitewashing Mitt Romney’s record: bad.
Stymieing the fight for traditional American values and morality to ensure the perpetuation of the rapidly declining status quo: bad.
Shilling for a candidate to keep your seat at the table: bad.
It’s time to start seeing things like an adult, and put the childish behind. No more toy soldiers.