Posted by: itslikethatweb | October 29, 2012

In Defense of Nice-Guy Politics

Emma’s well-stated question was thrumming through my mind as I read “The Lie Factory,” as well. A certain moment towards the end jumped out at me, when Carey McWilliams wrote a story about Baxter and Whitaker for The Nation in a way that shocked both strategic pioneers: he was fair. As Lepore writes:

“He hadn’t been simple. He hadn’t attacked them. He had taken time to explain. He hadn’t invented an enemy. He hadn’t taken remarks out of context. He hadn’t made anything up. He hadn’t lied.”

Even more shocking? McWilliams’ article actually had an impact. It inspired many doctors to resign from the A.M.A., and the A.M.A. later fired Whitaker and Baxter in an effort not to “compromise its nonpartisan status.” This flicker of hope in a generally spirit-dampening story makes one wonder if, in the end, the old adage is true: cheaters never prosper. Campaign, Inc., set a precedent for outright war among candidates, highlighting the ugly human hunger for victory and obscuring the fact that elected leaders exist to represent and protect their constituency. One wonders if America can ever bounce back from how deeply it’s been steeped in a game of political tug-o-war.

Can we conjure up real-life examples of “nice guy” politics, similar to those imagined by Leibovich in “Feel the Loathing”? What, if anything, can candidates and political parties do to reverse the cycle established by Campaign, Inc.?

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