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Partisan Blinders

Here's an little case study in how getting attached to a group (in this case, the Democratic Party) leads to highly skewed perceptions of the behavior of other group members versus outsiders. Kevin Drum says that in their recent PA Senate debate, Bob Casey made a "garden variety debating point" and Rick Santorum responded with a "finger-jabbing rant" with "spittle flying into the camera," clear evidence that he has "lost it." Not being one to pass up schadenfreude at Santorum's expense, I took Drum's advice to check out the video.

What I saw bore little resemblance to Drum's description. Casey accuses Santorum of not spending very much time working. Santorum gives an off-point rebuttal, then turns the question back around by accusing Casey of not spending very much time working, either. Casey refuses to answer, but Santorum insists -- with some finger-jabbing, but no spittle or ranting. The "debate" soon degenerates into both men repeating the same point over top of each other. Neither man comes out of it looking very good -- rather than productive elucidation of the choice voters face, they end up involved in a childish penis-size contest, both insisting on looking like the tough guy who's overtly in control of the framing of the discussion. And Santorum was making a legitimate point (I assume from Casey's refusal to give even a pseudo-answer that he is in fact guilty of goofing off on the taxpayers' time).


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