It’s so hard to know who and what to believe any more. Our political system has played the spin card so often on the American public, they may have spun themselves completely out of sight. Combine that with a national media that has a greater interest in Hollywood glitz, sensational reporting and little to do with true investigative watch-dogging. What we are left with is a completely uninformed and confused public.
Last week’s big news was all about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) and what the press has declared “Bridgegate.” The national media seems to pull out the old ”-gate” thing whenever they think they’ve got a good, juicy political scandal in the making. Their ability to be creative this year, however, was likely used up when they recently conjured up the term “polar vortex” to describe the cold spell that hit the country in early-January.
“Was the purposeful closing of several lanes on the most traveled bridge in the US done for political reasons?” and “Did Governor Christie have any involvement?” are the big questions that will now be bantered about ad nauseam until the next big news story hits.
Who can we really believe anymore? The governor has a reputation as a no-nonsense leader. A man who has proven he can be a formidable opponent attracting voters from all spectrums, but nonetheless, he’s still a politician at heart and not above political posturing. The governor claims to be embarrassed at the actions of his staff and, as yet, no evidence has come forward connecting him to the closures. His apology news conference and tour last week was in stark contrast to the previous apologies by President Obama when scandals rocked his administration. The contrast was so different it seems almost too convenient of an opportunity to attract the nation’s attention and demonstrate his leadership style as compared to that of the President or other possible contenders for the Oval Office in 2016.
That’s where the trust and skepticism begins to invade one’s thinking. Can we believe anything, regardless of the source, when political strategy and the high office are at the root of the subject? Politicians will tell us until they are blue in the face that it’s our best interest they have at heart, but time and time again we learn the opposite is true.
Consider a smaller news story overshadowed last week when Bridgegate hit the scene. The Center for Responsive Politics released their report on the personal financial disclosure information released on members of Congress and found over half of them had an average net worth of at least $1 million. The figures were split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. On the Senate side, the average networth of a senator was $2.7 million with the Republicans gaining a distinct advantage worth $2.9 million on average while Democratic Senators were a paltry $1.7 million. All the while looking out for our best interest our elected representatives seem to find time to pocket a little for themselves, leaving us to question their motives when a scandal hits the wire.
Speaking of other simmering scandals, the recently released memoir by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates provides a one-sided look into the Obama Administration. Once highly praised by the President and awarded the Medal of Freedom, Gates claims the President put his own political fortunes ahead of the lives of the men and women serving in our military. Gates used the book to provide his inside perspective of the Obama Administration’s inner workings. Both sides will spin the book and its conclusions everyway imaginable, but in the end, we have to ask ourselves who and what can we trust? One would assume Gates has little to gain at this point in his life. When the first news stories of the book began to leak out, my initial thought was why now and this seems inappropriate. But after listening to his interview this week on CBS, the timing now seems appropriate based on his reasoning.
Sadly, we seem to go from one hot potato issue to another week after week and in the end, it seems nothing positive changes for the American public. Our jobless rate continues to struggle, the economy is left to limp along and our leaders continue to play political games with the majority of their focus dedicated to posturing for the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential elections.
One positive note did surface recently. The Administration has chosen to fire CGI Federal, the contractor responsible for creating Healthcare.gov the online health insurance marketplace. I do hope the Administration asked for a refund of the nearly $700 million CGI wasted building the site, but since it was only taxpayer money I doubt the subject was ever broached.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.