Truth or dare

Paul Krugman. (AP Photo/ Francisco Seco) Paul Krugman. (AP Photo/ Francisco Seco)

One of the uglier things to come out of 9/11 are truthers. Both the term and the people it describes.

In short, there are some among us who remain convinced the events of that horrible day were either perpetrated by, or conducted, with the tacit approval of our own government. They quickly earned the moniker of truthers.

Now, we’re a country that’s always (not-so-gladly) suffered conspiracy theories — and the fools who champion them — from our Masonic founding fathers to a president’s assassination carried out by a larger cast of characters than a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel.

But everything changed after 9/11. It rent us open as a nation, carving wounds that may never completely heal. And it occurred in a wired world, where fringe elements can gather and reinforce one another’s paranoia with relative ease.

And when a polarizing political candidate assumed the presidency, like-minded fringe elements from the other end of the spectrum were able to get together and question his heritage, spawning the birther movement. The right wing’s racist answer to the left’s pathological paranoia.

(Or should we be able to celebrate this common ground? Bush must have known about the WMDs — or lack thereof. Just like the president must have known about those killers in Benghazi. See, all of us are capable delusional suspensions of disbelief.)

I bring all of this up not just because the latest trend involves apparent “shoe truthers,” who argue Hillary Clinton planted that shoe thrower in Vegas. (To what end, I’m still not sure…)

But because I, like so many others, think the Census Bureau survey swerve reeks of under-handed statistical manipulation. At best, the timing sucks. At worst, it’s a straight up proactive cooking of the books, Enron-style.

In case you missed it, the bug eyes over at the Census Bureau switched up the health insurance questions on their annual survey, the biggest and most authoritative one we have on the uninsured population in this country. It included, a “total revision to health insurance questions,” according to The New York Times, that has already started producing lower numbers.

What it means next year is that we’ll have fewer uninsured people in the country. But figuring out whether it’s because of the president’s health care law, an improving economy, or because we simply redefined what being uninsured means is something we now may never know.

Obviously, some on the right (and yours truly) have pointed at this and cried foul. Or words I can’t use here.

Joe Scarborough, something of a GOP centrist in today’s environment, said as much on his show this week.

“White Houses on both sides do their best to cook the books and everything else,” Scarborough declared. “I think this is [a] particularly clumsy effort…Conservatives blasted it for good reason; so did a lot of progressives. They were just embarrassed by how ham-fisted the move was.”

And I couldn’t agree more. And if you believe any administration official who dismisses it as mere coincidence, well, then I hear Chris Christie has a bridge to sell you…traffic lights sold separately.

Which brings me back to where I started. Because of course, liberal bulldog Paul Krugman bit hard and fast on those comments, accusing Scarboroughof being a truther. (Why didn’t he go ahead and accuse him of being anti-Semitic while he was at it?)

Why can’t we raise questions such as these without being hammered with the political equivalent of fat shaming? Why can’t we criticize the abuse of presidential power if it’s “our guy?” Any abuse of power should offend any fan of democracy, whether the offender is a donkey or an elephant.

Krugman’s knee-jerk defense of the administration — and subsequent attack of someone who would dare question it — is offensive on its face. It also kind of pisses me off.

About the Author
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Denis Storey is editor for BenefitsPro.com and Benefits Selling magazine. He can be reached at dstorey@benefitspro.com.

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