The Corner

Politics & Policy

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

It is one thing to be a progressive, to be a Democrat, to prefer the personalities and policies associated with the Left over those associated with the Right, to wish to see those who share one’s views and values treated sympathetically. That I understand.

But it is impossible for any person with a functioning central nervous system to believe that Hillary Clinton is telling the truth about her emails, inasmuch as her statements on the matter are in conflict with established facts and in conflict with each other. They simply are not compatible with reality.

Likewise, it is impossible for any sentient person to believe that Barack Obama is telling the truth about the matter, that he learned about the situation from press reports (I stand corrected, incidentally) when he in fact corresponded with her via email.

It is impossible to believe that the ATF published altered regulations governing a popular type of rifle ammunition before the rule change had legally taken place—before public comment on the matter even was concluded—by accident, that the change in the regulatory manual was just an extraordinarily coincidental editing error.

It is impossible to believe that the IRS and the White House have been telling the truth about that agency’s campaign of political persecution of conservative groups leading up to the 2012 election.

Jay Nordlinger makes a good case for partisanship and against the temptation to “be a nice above-the-fray type.” And he is of course correct — but it is necessary to rise above the fray from time to time and call bunk bunk. Conservatives have been pretty good about that lately, in part because so many of them despise the Republican party and its official leadership. The Left, though, and the media’s Democratic caucus, will perform heroic feats of intellectual yoga to accommodate the avalanche of lies they are force-fed by the White House and congressional Democrats. It is embarrassing to watch.

It is also corrosive. At some point, members of the press — including those who work for ideological and partisan outlets such as National Review and the New York Times (one of which is honest about what it is) — have a moral and professional responsibility to acknowledge that lies are lies. I prefer the overseas model of frankly partisan newspapers to the dishonest posturing of U.S. outlets advertising their “objectivity,” but partisanship can, if you are not careful, make you stupid, or at least make you write and say stupid things. You end up being David Brock or Maureen Dowd. 

Oprah.com recently reminded its readers of one of my favorite phrases: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” (The original expression is Polish: “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.”) I may be a little bit (or more than a little bit) sanctimonious about the fact that I am not a Republican, but it does make the process a little more friction-free when it is time to call Republican BS BS. It would be an excellent thing if the Democrats who dominate the major media would develop and exhibit enough independence of mind that they could publicly acknowledge when they — and therefore the country — are being lied to, when they are being actively deceived by people with political power.

Without that, they are the circus — they are the monkeys. 

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