Pontius Pilate famously asked Jesus the question “What is truth?” Though it was more of a statement than a question. During the political season the question “What is truth” can be answered as something there is little concern for.
This poisonous political period can feel like an oppressive fog that permeates everything. There is little or no concern for truth so we get everything from exaggerations to outright lies and we shrug it off as “just politics.” We have come to expect that politicians are not intimate friends with the truth and just as long as we support part of their agenda we are willing to put up with it. The ends don’t justify the means except when they do. We want zingers more than truth.
Now as an admitted political partisan myself I certainly would say that one side of the political divide is abusing truth more than the other. That does not mean that I will pass by departures from truth for partisan reasons. Something we almost never get is a politician accurately speaking about a policy of their opponent. Showing concern that first they understand it before critiquing it. I guess when things are compressed down to a soundbite the compression algorithm used removes truth for compactness. I think of the care that St. Thomas Aquinas took in the Summa Theologica to accurately state objections before answering them. St. Thomas Aquinas said “All that I have written seems like straw”, but what he had written contained no straw men.
What makes me reflect on this is the reaction to a statement from Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
This was seized on immediately to make him a supporter or rape. Any honest person not wanting to pin everything with an agenda would see that this was a badly worded answer that conflated rape as being the will of God. I have a hard time of seeing how somebody can so misread this other then bad will. At worse you could see him as confusing God’s ordained will vs. His permissive will not a support of rape.
When I wanted to find the actual quote of Richard Mourdock I had to wade through dozens of articles regarding it to find one that actually printed the quote in whole. If his statement was so indicting of him you would think they would print it for all to see.
On the other hand considering Todd Akins previous remark I think we need to send Republican Senate candidates to some kind of school as to how to articulate themselves regarding abortion and the rape exception. It is almost always painful to hear a politician articulate themselves on this. I must applaud Richard Moyrdock for his pro-life conviction that didn’t take the normal pragmatic route. Really though if he had stated it better, there would have probably still been some news concerning it.
The President of course took little time to mischaracterize Mourdock’s remarks for political gain. Unfortunately this is to be expected since I do not see our President as much of a lover of truth. I wish I could think of Gov. Romney as a lover of truth, but I do no delude myself this way.
It seems odd to me in this Presidential election where there is so much that divides the candidates policy wise that so much is wasted on something other than valid critiques of policy. As a political junkie it is easy to forget that many are not so engaged in what is going on and politicians would rather sway them with zingers and soundbites hoping it will get into their narrow window of political engagement. The first victim of war is truth, and the same goes for political campaigns that increase the victim count.
All I know is that I need to be much more of a prayer junkie than a political one.