I was in a bookstore yesterday and came across a fascinating book by Rick Shenkman entitled Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter. In short, the book deals with the ignorance and irrationality that currently plague our country's politics, especially at the national level. The surveys paint a dismal picture of a populace easily manipulated and swayed by emotional appeals that fly in the face of the facts. I've blogged such things from time to time in the past.
I read the entire book last night. It's enjoyable, informative, and more than a little scary. I found myself in serious disagreement with Mr. Shenkman only once. On page 35 he claims that the Social Security Trust Fund is a fiction. Here's what the Trust Fund FAQ page maintained by the Social Security Administration has to say on this issue:
Far from being "worthless IOUs," the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government.
Otherwise, I found myself in agreement with Mr. Shenkman on all the major issues raised by his book. I have to admit that I don't share his rather muted optimism that things might get better, but overall his book is well worth reading.
Also, there's a blog associated with the book that should be added to your regular reading until the November election.
Michael Kinsley marvels at the Republicans' ability in a presidential campaign to turn a Democratic candidate's strengths into weaknesses. He rightly adds that it certainly helps that the media generally refuse to call a lie a lie.