So, I think I’m just about ready to stop obsessing about Aaron Broussard and move on to a new topic. But before doing so I wanted to mention one more thing about the whole affair: The depression I’ve experienced at seeing so many leftist webloggers willing to excuse Broussard and attack Tim Russert for challenging Broussard’s false statements. The righteousness with which they cheer Broussard for his performance at his second Meet the Press interview is causing me oodles of cognitive dissonance, because I watch that performance and see political spin, and I’d like to think that the bloggers of Leftyland wouldn’t be so easily fooled by it.
Here’s a quick roundup of webloggers who have been bumming me out:
- shystee at corrente: Beat the press: Aaron Broussard will kick your ass.
- Brian Oberkirch of Like It Matters: Get out of my face.
- Britt Blaser of Escapable Logic: “Out of my grief and my impatience, answered neglectingly”.
- Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine: Seeing the forest for the flood.
- Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice: Tim Russert’s effective ambush.
- theta_wave of Non Compus Mentus: Tim Russert makes Aaron Broussard cry on Meet the Press.
- Arianna Huffington (of herself, of course): To watch or not to watch.
And, lest it be thought that the entire universe is crazy, or deluded, here’s someone who apparently has more familiarity with Broussard’s shtick, and doesn’t buy it:
- Jeffrey D. Shadow of Between the Lines: Broussard’s attacks cast bad light on all Louisiana officials.
Shadow’s analysis is pretty right-on in terms of pointing out that Broussard’s behavior in his second appearance is really hard to reconcile with the “he just made an honest mistake” scenario. But that analysis loses something from Shadow’s apparently getting the specific nature of Broussard’s false statement exactly backwards: Broussard didn’t place Eva Rodrigue’s death too early, but too late.
I think the whole thing depresses me so much because it cements in my head the futility of expecting that the majority of people will ever succeed in seeing through hucksters who know how to tell them what they want to hear, and make it credible. For many of the people so completely taken in by Broussard, it’s the apparent sincerity of his tears, and their own emotional reaction to them, that short-circuits all subsequent logic. They feel for him, sympathize with him, and so are simply unable (or unwilling) to consider that he might be consciously manipulating them via those sympathies.
No, it’s not the biggest story in the world. Mike Brown is spinning for all he’s worth before Congress (as he continues to be paid as a consultant by FEMA), Tom Delay is under indictment for illegal campaign-fundraising hijinks, and we may be closing in on the big reveal in the Valerie Plame/Karl Rove reality show we’ve been following.
But it was a big deal to me, because I had that same strong emotional reaction to Broussard’s initial appearance, and then sat down and said hey, wait a minute. Is he jerking me around? And came to believe, step by step, that yeah, he probably was. So I’ll be more careful the next time a politician starts crying on camera as he tells an improbable story, even if the larger point he’s driving home is one I agree with. Maybe especially if his larger point is one I agree with.