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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

One of the right’s biggest handicaps? Their own love for partisan hacks and spin

Conor Friedersdorf:

Before rank-and-file conservatives ask, “What went wrong?”, they should ask themselves a question every bit as important: “Why were we the last to realize that things were going wrong for us?”

Barack Obama just trounced a Republican opponent for the second time. But unlike four years ago, when most conservatives saw it coming, Tuesday’s result was, for them, an unpleasant surprise. So many on the right had predicted a Mitt Romney victory, or even a blowout — Dick Morris, George Will, and Michael Barone all predicted the GOP would break 300 electoral votes. Joe Scarborough scoffed at the notion that the election was anything other than a toss-up. Peggy Noonan insisted that those predicting an Obama victory were ignoring the world around them. Even Karl Rove, supposed political genius, missed the bulls-eye. These voices drove the coverage on Fox News, talk radio, the Drudge Report, and conservative blogs.

Those audiences were misinformed.

Outside the conservative media, the narrative was completely different. Its driving force was Nate Silver, whose performance forecasting Election ‘08 gave him credibility as he daily explained why his model showed that President Obama enjoyed a very good chance of being reelected. Other experts echoed his findings. Readers of The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other “mainstream media” sites besides knew the expert predictions, which have been largely born out. The conclusions of experts are not sacrosanct. But Silver’s expertise was always a better bet than relying on ideological hacks like Morris or the anecdotal impressions of Noonan.

Bottom line, information is power — but only good information. Bad information is worthless. Want to get a bunch of people to volunteer to bang phones and knock doors tomorrow? Do not tell them that if you “unskew” the polls, everything looks just freakin’ awesome for Mitt. Tell them the truth — that Republicans are screwed if they don’t.

But the broader story is that this is how good rightwingers’ information about everything is. From evolution to global warming to economics to facts as basic and indisputable as whether unemployment has gone up or down, conservatives expose themselves to just the most sorry excuses for “information” they can find. No, global warming isn’t a hoax, the president isn’t a secret Muslim terr’ist sent to destroy America with socialism, and Mitt Romney was not sailing toward an easy victory. In short, if you’re conservative and you’re reading this, I have some urgent advice for you: STOP FALLING FOR RIDICULOUS BULLSHIT!

In the end, it’s not going to work out any better than the “unskewed” polls did. Worse, by falling for this lunatic crap, you’re screwing everyone’s lives up — not just your own. We can have a debate over issues, but not outside the borders of reality. It just doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to believe whatever the fuck it is you want to believe.

That sort of thinking has brought you to one disaster. Let’s make it the last one.

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