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It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad world in today's politics

Politics has never been a completely "sane" activity, but in the past year or two, it has truly entered the Bizarro World — and seems to be mad, mad mad. The best evidence of these strange phenomena is the incredible number of outrageous, outlandish and strange statements made by any number of politicians, and an equally incredible number of apologies and mea culpa which follow. "I am sorry" seems to be the operative words.

The most recent is the McChrystal debacle in which a supposedly smart, experienced four-star general dissed his commander in chief, only to later profusely apologize. "I'm sorry," said he.

Going back a bit, Rep. Joe Wilson shouted out in the venerable halls of the House of Representatives, "You lie" — again directed at the president. He said he let his emotions get the better of him. "I'm sorry," he said (reluctantly).

Also in the Congress, Rep. Joe Barton from Texas blasted the government for acting so harshly on BP, and apologized to the oil company. "I am sorry" for the actions of my government he stated. Ah, but from him we got a double apology: one for the original apology, and a second when his Republican colleagues advised him he may have erred. Thus he came back the next day to apologize for the apology. Rumor is he is now going to unapologize. Confused? It is a mad, mad, mad, mad political world out there right now.


Politicians who strayed
Then there is that herd of politicians who have strayed from their spouses, only to be caught in the web of infidelity: Edwards, Vetter, Sanford, and Spitzer, et al. "Sorry, sorry sorry, sorry," etc.

Lots of politicians say things they later regretted. President Obama approved new offshore drilling only to have the fickle finger of fate arrived with an explosion in the Gulf. "We will have a six-month moratorium on offshore drilling"; he was forced to recant a few weeks later. But, he didn't say he was "sorry." He did have something to say to the people of the Gulf: "I am sorry."

Others have also had to zigzag in strange and incomprehensible ways. Take Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Last year Jindal stated the government should stay out of people's business and let the citizens take responsibility; that meant we needed a smaller federal government. Then that same explosion that bit Obama happened, and Jindal could not get enough big government in his state fast enough. That would be irony enough — but not for Jindal. At the same time big oil is ravaging his state with negligent and reckless actions, Jindal is now demanding more oil drilling, and now. He may yet be sorry.

As added examples, there are those politicians who make outrageous statements, then cannot dance away from them fast enough once the absurdity is called out. Rand Paul's suggestion that perhaps the Civil Rights Act was ill advised came back to bite him hard enough that he apologized for trying to return the black community to its own fountains and restaurant seating. "I'm sorry," said he.

No apology, just denial
In Nevada, Sharron Angle, who will run against Harry Reid for the state's Senate seat, is also a Tea Party aficionado who wants to abolish the Department of Education, pull out of the U.N., phase out of Medicare, privatize Social Security — and is against legalization of alcohol (the casinos would love that one). Angle has not apologized (yet); she merely denies those positions. Such is life in today's bizzaro political realm.

Similarly, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who has a habit of making strange out-of-the-box statements, warned BP officials to not be "chumps" and be victims of "extortion" while taking a financial hit from the Obama administration. Just the other day she danced around that bizarre position by saying BP is actually responsible for the mess, but she meant she did not want the government to get lots of money from the oil giant and spend it in other ways. Huh? Bachmann has never apologized for her outlandish claims, she too is a denier. Being contrite is apparently not in her playbook. She's in a tough race this year, and may yet be "sorry."

So, what is this really about? There have always been aggressive and angry fights in politics, but today's politicians seem more crude, rude and outrageous than those of past years. There seem to be more voices from the fringe than those of moderation — especially in the Republican Party' its base has moved further right, and the centrist voices seem intimidated and muted. There has also been a terrible, ugly, and unseemly antagonism to Obama which is hard to fully explain, but certainly racism is a component. That alone has ginned up the far right.

Changes in media, general malaise
There are changes in the media, which bring us not only up-to-the-second developments, but on-site as well; plus the confusing blend of news/entertainment/opinion in today's reporting.

Finally there is the general malaise and discontent that seem to permeate our society these days. Folks just seem angry, upset, and ready to lash out. All of which makes the political scene a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

If I have misrepresented, falsely attacked, or exaggerated any of the above, all I can say is, I apologize. … I am sorry.

Myles Spicer of Minnetonka has spent his business career as a professional writer and owned several successful ad agencies over the past 45 years.

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Comments (1)

The 24/7 newscycle, bloggers, pundits of every type and flavor on dozens of cable channels constantly looking for interviews and the aphrodisiac of "going viral" on the Internet are factors as well.

In the pre-Internet, pre-cell phone days, "outrageous, outlandish and strange statements" were certainly made (Martha Mitchell, anyone?). Many of the same types of comments were made in those days as well as today. Consider for a moment the possibilities of a MacArthur v. President Truman tete-a-tete in the Internet era.

The news cycle was largely dictated by the broadcast schedule on TV and when the next edition of a newspaper was printed.

Technology has provided new ways to communicate quickly to a large-scale audience. It has also provided more opportunities for sharing "foot in mouth" disease with all of your global neighbors almost as it happens.