(This is an adapted and updated version of a blog rant posted Friday at arkansasnews.com. It adds new information. I wanted beloved newspaper only readers to have the opportunity to consider it.)
A couple of newspaper editors thanked me for writing a column for Sunday that was about sex instead of Blanche Lincoln and Bill Halter.
Their gratitude was less on account of the sex, I think, than on account of my sparing them the blather.
People are sick of those two Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. They're sick of the nonsense. So am I. But I'm also fascinated by the wreckage.
This is a nothing less than a classic case study in the decline of modern political discourse. I cannot recall a single issue that has been presented by both candidates in an intelligent, relevant and even mildly contextual discussion.
Issues have been misstated and exploited to try to drive bogus wedges. These insults to our intelligence — assuming our intelligence can be insulted — have been funded by millions of squandered special interest dollars that could have gone to feed the hungry. Instead this money has flowed to irresponsible politicians and through mysterious independent groups freed to behave as they choose by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The latest affront and outrage is a TV spot from a shady right-wing national business group that attacks Halter by having caricatured Indian characters thank him for bringing jobs to India. That is because he was on the board of a company that created a lot of jobs in America and placed a small fraction of newly created ones in India. Lincoln falsely calls that out-sourcing, the far lesser of her recent misrepresentations.
Some say the ad is racist. I can't seem to get past its absurdity. It's like an SNL spoof. But this race is its own satire.
Under pressure from Halter and bloggers, Lincoln distanced herself from the ad, saying it wasn't constructive, as if being constructive was her own standard.
Lincoln is more personally complicit than Halter. These mailers that have come into my home from her campaign are practically pornographic in their vile absurdity. They latch on to any little thing to seek nearly to criminalize Halter, even if all he did was simply acknowledge the plain truth that Social Security needs in the long run to take in more money and pay out less.
This race also makes the case that polarized partisanship isn't necessarily our problem, but that money and personal political malfeasance are.
These two are of the same party. They'd vote the same 90 percent of the time. They don't have much real philosophical difference.
So they pander to money sources, labor and corporations. To win at any cost, she is left to personalize and he to contrive, pretending that he alone, as some kind of legislating Hercules, could have amended NAFTA or TARP.
Right now I think D.C. Morrison might get 8 percent by not being Lincoln or Halter. That probably means a runoff. That would mean three weeks of hell.
Then this seat will most likely go Republican in November.
If Lincoln wins the primary, she'll go to the general election as a vulnerable incumbent newly damaged as desperate, dishonest and meaner than a snake.
If Halter wins, Republicans will effortlessly cast him as the candidate of national liberals who, oh, by the way, was said by a fellow Democrat back in April and May to be an outsourcer and drug pusher and Social Security tax raiser and benefit cutter.
P.S. — The blog rant has me speculating I might vote for John Boozman. I'm having a harder time typing that for newsprint.
P.P.S. — I'm on record relating that I responded to a pollster weeks ago by saying that I was holding my nose to vote for Lincoln, whose Senate work is worthy of that support even as her campaign most certainly is not. But a man shouldn't have to hold his nose so tightly to cast a simple vote. I can't breathe.