We are in political segue time, when Congress heads home and the next phase awaits in the wings. What’s a political junkie to do? As it turns out, that answer is right in front of me.
There is too much in the way of politics in the air to call this period in the dog days of summer a political holiday. It does seem fair to refer to the current two-week period as a shifting of gears. Congress is leaving town for the month of August without getting anything more done. The Olympics are gobbling up precious news time on one of the stalwart networks of the “lame stream media” as it is referred to by Sarah Palin. So what’s one addicted to politics to do to regain his equilibrium? For this political observer the period has meant a forced balancing of viewing from the various cable news outlets.
I will admit that, given the smorgasbord of choices, consumption of the admittedly conservative Fox News channel gets only 10 to 15 percent of my viewing time during a normal week. I try to give some time to other outlets such as CNN, Bloomberg News and C-SPAN. MSNBC garners the larger plurality of my viewing time.
The Olympics being carried by all of the NBC outlets has limited my MSNBC time, and Fox News has filled the void created by archery and ping pong. It has meant mixing news from the left end of the political spectrum with news from the right side of politics with a smattering of the Olympics thrown in for good measure.
Take one recent day as an example. If one had risen early enough they would have been front and center when the July jobs report hit the streets. There were 163,000 new jobs created, which was good news, but unemployment rose to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent. This news prompted cheers and a rosy analysis all around by the primarily moderate-to-liberal Democratic-leaning “experts” populating MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” telecast. The jobs were double the number created during the previous month. The spin on the 8.3 percent stretched credulity somewhat as the slight up tick was viewed as good news indicating a return of people to the job search. Yes, I know — raised eyebrows all around. At any rate, as 8 a.m. arrived, instead of having these assumptions reinforced, the Olympics took center stage and who would want to miss the dressage competition?
Dressage apparently refers to the sport of precision horse maneuvering in such a way that it appears that the horse is engaged in an almost ballet-like performance. I did learn — I think — that there are 33 separate movements that the horse must make. The competition takes place inside a neatly laid out picket fence square that is kept quite well-manicured. I could not help but wonder what a good ole red “Morgan horse” from over around Puckett or Pelahatchie and his owner named Bubba would have thought had he been at the competition. I can see horse and rider breaking out into a full belly-laugh at their “high falutin” kin folk. In addition, it would have been fun to see a yearling calf run into the pristine arena to get a reaction from the royalty riding the toe-dancing equine. One other observation is that compared to the rodeo arenas that I have been in the dressage horses are quite well-mannered and obviously potty-trained.
Alas, I had as much of dressage as I could stand, so it was on to Fox News for more politics. When I arrived you could have cut the gloom and doom with a knife. The question of the day was would the country possibly be able to hang on until November when a change in the presidency was possible? The 163,000 in new jobs was an unmitigated disaster because quick research by the Fox News staff uncovered the fact that we lost 195,000 jobs over the same period, thus what we really had was a net loss in jobs and the unemployment indeed rose to 8.3 percent to prove it. A hammer to the gut, Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney called it.
While I was still pondering the wide disparity in the assessment of the July jobs numbers there was yet more bad news. The commentators revealed President Obama’s role in the heat wave and drought in the mid-western Corn Belt. Seems the impact is significantly worse because of the mandatory ethanol content in gasoline that is already putting pressure on corn prices. If we would simply be allowed to drill for more oil then the impact of the drought would be less noticeable. I have yet to hear that angle mentioned on MSNBC.
A CNN expert said over the weekend that due to the various media outlets and devices available today we partake of four-and-a-half hours more information over the course of a day than we did in 1975. Other studies have demonstrated that we choose those outlets that confirm and reinforce our own previously held beliefs. With two dramatically opposite stories being told about the same events, is it any wonder that we think that those who do not think exactly as we do have been brainwashed?
Enjoy this brief respite while you can. The super bowls of partisan political invective, the Republican and Democratic political conventions, are visible on the horizon. They may make us long for those horse deposits just beyond the dressage arena.