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Steinberg: The Left can be as looney as the Right

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders | AP, Getty Images

I’ve seen some strange weather in Chicago — a day when it was 105 degrees, another, 26 below zero, green skies, monsoon rains and massive snows. But I’ve never seen a day like Saturday, beginning at dawn with flurries in April, then alternating from blue-skied sunshine to white-out blizzard, and back. Sun, then snowstorm. Clear skies. London fog. All. Day. Long.

“BI-POLAR VORTEX” a Facebook friends labeled a video of the maelstrom, resurrecting a twitter tag from two years back.

My poor saucer magnolia blossoms. Open for one day and then, boom, snow and freeze.

“Where’s your global warming now?!” I snarled at the sky.

“That’s not what it means,” my wife informed me, perhaps forgetting whom she married.

Yes dear, I know. A feeble attempt at humor, based on conservatives who, trumpeting their ignorance of all things scientific, declare that really cold days are a refutation of climate change: “How could the world be warmer if it’s cold now?” That’s like standing in a house engulfed in flame, pulling open the freezer and announcing, “Look! How can there be a fire? The popsicles are fine!”

But I don’t want to rag on the Right. It’s too easy. I’ve started to notice that while the Right’s irrationalities get frequent denunciation in the press, the Left has its own irrationalities that receive gentler handling.

Which is not fair. Sure, Republicans have an ongoing Carnival of Folly regarding climate change denial and creationism. But Democrats have our own Circus of Ignorance going on, with anti-vaxxers and those worked up about GMOs — genetically-modified organisms — both as unmoored from reality as ESP and UFOs. Vaccinations save millions of lives, period, and GMOs create a better, cheaper food supply with risks that remain theoretical.

OPINION

Although anti-vaxxers, lately, get the hoots of derision they deserve, GMO alarmists still are given a pass. Big restaurant chains like Chipotle, large food manufacturers like General Mills, line up to ballyhoo that their goodies are free of the dread GMOs, even though there’s nothing harmful about them.

In the media’s defense, more people are hurt by Republican fallacy. Generations of schoolkids in Texas are taught this insane, faith-based mash. Somehow, bragging that Honey Nut Cheerios have no GMOs doesn’t seem as malign.

Still, the media needs more balance. I know I do. Looking at the presidential race. Bernie Sanders keeps nattering on about political revolution, and all the things that are going to be free, yet never whispers how it’ll work or get paid for. It’s as much a leap of faith as Donald Trump saying, essentially, “elect me president and I’ll fix everything through some magical process I can’t describe now.”

Maybe Trump is a more important target because of the xenophobic factor — he’s hurting actual people, right now: immigrants and Muslims especially. Haters are cowards, and Donald Trump gives them a kind of permission to vent their secret shame.

Sanders, on the other hand, will have to be elected to do his damage and, frankly, I just can’t imagine that happening.

Thus the focus on Trump. A swath of readers wish we’d ignore him. But he’s still leading the pack, racking up the delegates, unless some last-ditch attempt to thwart him at the convention works. Sanders, on the other hand, while mustering impressive shows in marginal backwaters like Alaska and Hawaii, isn’t going to win.

That said, the Left is gobbling the pie-in-the-sky that Sanders is selling, and intellectual honesty demands we pause to contemplate the ugly scene: the same folks who aired their illusions of significance with the Occupy Wall Street movement, now with a big smear of blueberry around their mouths, eyes glittering, insisting Sanders is the real thing. He’s not. He’s a snake oil salesman, just like Donald Trump, only the media likes the brand of snake oil he’s peddling, so he’s given a pass.

Maybe that’s today’s moral: we’re all fooled by something.