Steve Benen, at MaddowBlog:
When reporters get so inured to Romney's dishonesty that it no longer seems interesting or noteworthy, it sends a signal to the political world that facts and honesty simply don't matter anymore.
There's a reason for that, Mr. Benen. They don't. And the reason for that is partisanship, or what has come to be villainized, rightly or wrongly, as America's polarization.
You, Mr. Benen, note that "reporters" are in danger of becoming "inured" to Mitt Romney's phantasmagoric untruthiness, yet you're a reporter, even if one who makes no secret of his political preferences. And a mere three days before your above declaration, you reported, in "Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. IX," that Romney, within the preceding week alone, had lied about the intent of his Massachusetts healthcare bill, had lied about Obama's spending on veterans, had lied about Obama's debt and deficit concerns, and had lied about Obama's Iran policy and about Obama's loss of "our AAA credit rating" and about Obama's fiscal policy and about Social Security and Medicare in general.
And who read your reporting, which, by the way, was quite good? Readers of MaddowBlog, of course; readers who had already counted the ways in which Mitt Romney is an incurable liar, or don't much care about the specifics, since they'll never vote for Mitt Romney anyway -- in other words, unpersuadable, even redundant readers who should have been reading, say, National Review Online, whose unpersuadable, redundant readers should have been reading you, at MaddowBlog.
You get my drift. Our polarization has us oppositely cornered into lazy comfort zones, the breaking out of which would require alternative exposures, brutally repeated. Naturally, that's not going to happen. People watch Fox or MSNBC not to be informed, but to have their political prejudices reinforced; and for the same reason they read either MaddowBlog or RedState.com.
It's not that there aren't reporters, such as you, Mr. Benen, out there fighting the good fight and attempting the enlightenment of the great and independently unwashed: it's that the unwashed only give much of a presidential quadrennial damn around late October, and their numbers are relatively small. All the others? You, and Erick Erickson, already have their tickets punched and their ballots marked.
This may seem like a digression, Mr. Benen, but it's not. Reinhold Niebuhr, in Moral Man and Immoral Society, had this to say about the American electorate and the general thrust of Mitt Romney, whom Niebuhr never met, because Mitt hadn't been born yet:
[A] laissez faire economic theory is maintained in an industrial era through the ignorant belief that the general welfare is best served by placing the least possible political restraints upon economic activity. The history of the past hundred years is a refutation of the theory; but it is still maintained, or is dying a too lingering death, particularly in nations as politically incompetent as our own.
Niebuhr wrote that about free-market economics in the depression depths of 1932; Mitt Romney is still selling it in the near depression-recovering year of 2012; and, as Niebuhr lamented 80 years ago, its essence had already been discredited for about a century. But the old prejudices are hard to kill -- and we still find them in the same old polarization. Niebuhr wasn't "exposing" the lies of Herbert Hoover. The latter merely had his base, and no political analyst and no reporter and no reality was going to convince them otherwise.
Indeed, they didn't read Niebuhr.