It has been an interesting day. Tomorrow the 17th Context Science Fiction Convention begins. Traditionally the night before the con, we hold the committee dinner with the Guest of Honor. This year we had two guests, Hugo and Nebula award winners Connie Willis and Nancy Kress. I got to sit next to Ms. Kress, who remains a beautiful and thoughtful woman. Connie Willis is hilarious. She made us realize that Columbus suffers from a kitsch gap. We just don’t have many tourist spots sufficiently tacky or silly, with the possible exception of the concrete cornfield. This con is going to be fun.
On a more serious note, I headed downtown for a political rally/debate party headlined by Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards. I wanted to go because I wanted to see Edwards speak in person, and I have to say he looked like the real deal to me.
More pleasing was the debate. I have been watching political debates for some time. Never have I seen a more one-sided debate. At the end of the night, George W. Bush might has well as covered himself with barbeque sauce, because he was roasted. The sound bytes won't give the true flavor of how poorly the President performed. We were laughing at him! No matter how you feel, a president should do better. Bush could not. Kerry held the offensive the entire night. Bush was often left speechless, and when he recovered he simply repeated the same old platitudes.
Yet when I watched the CNN coverage after the event I was stunned. Simply put, those who claim a liberal bias in the media are liars. I watched their ‘'experts’', it was as if we watched completely different events. They spent the entire night trying to spin this Bush’s way, criticizing Kerry, yet Bush went practically unchallenged. Those of you who have read my writeups know the topic of security is one with which I have more than a passing familiarity. The simple fact is John Kerry had Bush dangling from a string practically the entire night. Bush appeared the lame, incompetent whiner he is. But to listen to CNN and you would have thought this a draw.
If Europeans want to understand why Americans might re-elect someone so arrogantly incompetent as the President, here is why. The major networks are reasonably fair, but local television, newspapers, talk radio and all the cable “news”' networks offer little more than thinly disguised Republican propaganda. Our largest news sources are not concerned with fairness, or maintaining proper journalistic standards. Simply put, if the average American wants the truth, he will have to work for it.
Democracy demands a debate centered on reality. Unpleasant news is how we keep our leaders honest, and ensure the best possible leadership. A strong opposition keeps the ruling party honest, forces them to face reality and protects us from ideological extremism. The society that best prospers is the society that faces reality squarely, pleasant or otherwise. A media that distorts the truth in favor of one view of another subverts this vital democratic process, and inevitably will lead to bad government, and decline.