HAVE WE LOST OUR COLLECTIVE MARBLES?…

Yesterday was full of interesting news. Sticking to stories that concern the election: John McCain gave a speech on nuclear non-proliferation. He also wrote an op-ed with Joe Lieberman in which he renounced Bush’s policy on North Korea. And then, in the evening, we learned that when he was coming up with his response to the mortgage crisis, McCain’s main economic advisor was literally a paid agent of one of the banks most heavily involved in creating that crisis — a bank that has an enormous amount riding on what our government decides to do in response.

And yet, at about 1am, when I clicked on Memeorandum, I saw — well, I can’t show you, since I don’t know how to do that, but I saw something like this (h/t), only twice as big. There were approximately a million stories about the fact that Obama said Auschwitz when he should have said Buchenwald. (The RNC responds, with characteristic understatement: “Obama’s frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief.”) There were also a couple of stories about Scott McClellan’s book, which is slightly more interesting, but not much, since all he really did was say things that everyone but the editors at RedState already know. The Newsweek story on McCain and Phil Gramm, which had put in a brief appearance as a tiny entry in the ‘More Items’ section, had vanished. McCain’s nonproliferation speech, and his break with Bush on North Korea, were nowhere to be found.

I suppose one explanation for this might be that people are more interested in gaffes than in policy wonkery. But that can’t be it. After all, McCain made a much more serious gaffe in his speech yesterday, but very few people noticed it:

“In John McCain’s speech today he says something very very puzzling:

Many believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programs of hostile governments is have our president talk with leaders in Pyongyang and Tehran, as if we haven’t tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades.

So McCain thinks that the President of the United States has been negotiating with the Iranians for the past two decades? Huh? Does McCain not understand that the stated policy of the U.S. government since April 7, 1980 has been to NOT TALK TO THE IRANIANS. And that we have not negotiated with Iran over their nuclear weapons program.”

Personally, I think being wrong about official US policy towards Iran, and about whether recent history shows that negotiating with them won’t work, is more serious than being wrong about precisely which Nazi concentration camp your great-uncle helped liberate. But then, I also think that at a time when we are involved in two wars, our standing in the world is as low as it has been in recent memory, we have jettisoned our commitment to basic human rights and the rule of law, our economy is tanking, our currency seems to be in free-fall, the energy crisis has finally (and predictably) hit home with a vengeance, food and commodity prices are soaring world-wide, our health insurance system could most charitably be described as badly frayed, our infrastructure seems to be crumbling around us, and a whole lot of people are looking at losing their homes — at a time like this, there are better things to talk about than flag pins, pastors, and the real explanation for Hillary Clinton’s RFK moment.

Honestly: if this campaign is decided on those sorts of issues, we deserve what we get. It’s just a pity our election will affect so many other people, who don’t.