Nearly a century ago Walter Lippmann, the wise and widely respected political analyst and essayist, wrote of the perils of meaningless gibberish in defining human discourse. He came down hard on are the media of his day, but his dark message had a much longer reach.
In his essay “Liberty and the News,” he wrote;
“It is almost impossible to overestimate the confusion in daily life caused by sheer inability to use language with intention. We talk scornfully of ‘mere words’. Yet through words the whole vast process of human communication takes place. The sights and sounds and meanings of nearly all that we deal with as ‘politics,’ we learn, not by our own experience but through the words of others. If those words are meaningless lumps charged with emotion, instead of messengers of fact, all sense of evidence breaks down…”
May I add: Welcome to Planet America, 2013, Mr. Lippmann!”
Let me recite some of today’s meaningless lumps:
Ohio House speaker Bill Bachelder says he’s opposed to expanding Medicaid because for Heaven’s sake he needs more information. Too many uncertainties, he says. Read: He doubtless hates the idea since big double-dippers will never have a need for it.
Rob Nichols, Gov. Kasich’s press secretary, responding to his boss’ mood these days as House Republicans slam his budget: “Governor Kasich is energized from all that Ohio has accomplished over the past two years – cutting taxes while at the same time filling an $8 billion budget imbalance…Encouraged by the progress made on parts of his plan so far, the governor looks forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly…” How can he lose? As he has told the New York Times, he is fulfilling God’s grand design for him to rescue Ohio and create a land of plenty.
Atty. General Mike DeWine, who runs a religious colony out of his office, “explained” his obsession to exempt employers from offering contraceptive insurance coverage with this murky political insight; “This is not a political issue. It is an issue, frankly,’ of religious freedom.” Frankly, who knew? Particularly from a highly political guy who has opposed the law since he made it a promising issue as a candidate for the office.
The ignoble lies and obfuscation over gun control that led to its defeat qualified as the worst forms of meaningless lumps. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman slid away from supporting background checks by endorsing something as politically safe as a national effort to turn away from from a culture of violence. Cool. But in the meantime, wouldn’t background checks help a bit?
Portman is said to be a life-long sportsman. You know what? The bill that he helped defeat wouldn’t have changed his outdoor lifestyle one iota. Go figure. Right, Mr. Lippmann?