Just how stupid do politicians and mainstream media types think we are – – as dumb as posts apparently. Recent comments from the likes of Joe Lieberman, or as some refer to him, Holy Joe, and the conduct of Wednesday night’s Democratic debate by ABC stalwarts are an insult to anyone with even a modicum of intelligence or concern about the state of political discourse in this country.

Hillary certainly knows Obama’s patriotism is not at issue. That she was comfortable with the accusatory tone directed at him during the debate was shameful, transparent political maneuvering. As for Stephanopoulos and Gibson, they like so many other media personalities seem to enjoy watching politicians do battle more than they take pride in reporting and analyzing real news or political trends. They are not serious journalists.

It is hard to say, though, who is more disreputable and unprofessional – – the appointed moderators or the garbage collectors some campaigns use to concoct talking points. And if that is all voters hear from the networks and cable it helps to explain why so many have turned to the internet where good information mixes with the virulently false and vindictive. At least, a little digging on line can elicit factual material that compares favorably with the mindless chatter served up by traditional media sources.

On any given evening, and indeed at all times during the exhausting 24/7 news cycle that drives cable news, there are commentaries and sound bytes fouling the airwaves that serve mainly to feed the partisan angst of viewers – – a kind of political porn. See it now when a supporter asks John McCain “How are you going to beat that bitch?” and with a chuckle he responds “That’s a good question.” Really? Is that what we’ve come to, and if it is, how do such rude, meaningless exchanges serve to enlighten the public, except maybe in the sense of showing how venal and low-minded some candidates really are.

Joe Lieberman – – a man who lost his party’s primary last time around and remains in the Senate courtesy of Connecticut Republicans who deserted their own party – – cavorts with McCain but refers to himself as an Independent Democrat. The best that can be said for his peculiar self-image is that, as a nominal Democrat, he enables party members to hang on to committee chairmanships in the Senate, a not unimportant consideration. His public appearances and utterances are passing strange, however.

Recently when William Kristol wrote in his NY Times column that it was Karl Marx who denigrated religion when defining his ideology, Kristol’s point seemed to be that Obama had been critical of religion, which he had not, and that ergo Obama was a leftist to be regarded with suspicion. Kristol’s amazing ability to write unscholarly drivel is unsurpassed in the putative liberal press. Be that as it may this scurrilous nonsense prompted a question for Lieberman during an interview about whether he believed Obama was a Marxist. Lieberman said, “No” ‘but it’s an interesting question because Obama is way to the left of the political mainstream’. Thus did a stupid and totally unfounded premise find a continuing source of media attention.

Actually, very few “interesting questions” are asked either in the debates or elsewhere; many of them are ridiculous e.g., what’s your favorite Bible passage, asked during an early debate. This last time around Obama was supposed to explain why he didn’t wear a flag pin – – didn’t he honor flag and country? If this sort of symbolic artifact is to be the measure of one’s patriotism perhaps Congress should pass a law requiring every US citizen to wear a flag pin and have a flag on their person ready to unfurl at a moment’s notice. The only problem might be that fifth columnists could sport such symbols and the country might be lulled into a false sense of security. Ooooh, how scary would that be?

In a country where voters tend to heed inflammatory rhetoric instead of facts, where prejudices and entrenched mind-sets are often hidden behind phony rationales, it would be an encouraging sign of electoral maturity if intelligence stopped being defined as elitism. The real elitists are those who disparage the intellect of average Americans, assuming they are incapable of ‘getting it’- – that the only truly meaningful interaction a politician can achieve with ‘the great unwashed’ is with the clink of a beer mug.

The mainstream media seems incapable of helping. Voters need to become independent thinkers and prove they aren’t really all that stupid.