March 27, 2008

Let's give 'em something to talk about

Hmmmm. How to fill the endless weeks waiting for something to actually happen in the last remaining primary campaign? I once wondered how the cable news channels would possibly be able to fill all those endless, endless hours of air time when faced with such a gaping gulf in time waiting until the distant Pennsylvania primary. Surely we'd get a respite of sorts.

I needn't have worried. They're busy scouring the crevices and inter-tubes for anything, and I mean anything, that they can then conflate into weighty matters by having a panel of one sort or another battle to express their considered analysis of whatever the blip of the day may be, despite the fact that that analysis may have taken all of 10 seconds to arrive at.

There are some high points though, as when some pundits actually have the honesty to admit that whatever supposed controversy is tossed out isn't worth discussing and they don't have the ability to even pretend it's legitimate, or they say they simply have no idea what the answer to some un-answerable question might be.

These daily media machinations can be hard to keep up with, as as soon as some supposedly big deal comes along, it fades away to be replaced by some new "something".

They pretty much throw it all out there, then ask, "Is this something? Or not?"

If you have to ask, it probably isn't. But beyond that, I'll try to recall some of the more recent.

-Teflon McCain: The media under-reporting or lack of attention to John McCain's truly strange utterances and evidence of a rather shocking lack of knowledge, duplicity, or confusion on exactly who and what we're fighting in Iraq, and the economy and economics in general. Also the pass he's gotten relative to Obama by his actively seeking the endorsement of a religious leader who spouts views offensive to 99% of the population.

-Richardson endorses Obama: The endorsement itself? Not that big a deal. Good for Obama, bad for Clinton. Minor gossip value due to Richardson's status as former Clinton cabinet member. A one day story at best.

Actual result: Gossip value immediately exploited and elevated by comments of James Carville comparing Richardson to Judas Iscariot on Easter day. Carville, author of an entire book on "stickin'", the value of loyalty, makes a perfect play, at once ensuring that the story gets plenty of action for a few days, and establishing the spin that Richardson's endorsement not only isn't a plus for Obama, but that Richardson himself is a rank traitor and person of terrible character, and thus his endorsement is a mark of shame, and thus both he and Obama are bad, bad, bad. As if it was shameful of Obama to have even accepted the endorsement.

In their rush to act as national scolds and ettiquette police (see post below) the press rushed to get Carville's sure-to-come attempt to backtrack or appologize for what the press pretended was a really shocking statement.

The Ragin' Cajun, bless his shiny little head, don't play that game. He meant to paste the traitor label on Richardson, and every time they put him on camera to back down, he used the opportunity to make sure it stuck, and in such clever ways that it ensured it would get played over and over. His last statement was to the effect that, like ranchers in east New Mexico and Madison Ave. ad agencies, he appreciated the value of good branding, and he intended to makes sure the correct brand was put on Richardson and stayed there.

Result: Big nothing. Everyone's already forgotten about it days later. But it filled in a few hours of air time.

-The Clinton alternative universe:

This is particularly hard to chronicle, as it morphs and weaves and bobs on a daily basis.

-I think it started out with Clinton flack Evan Bayh suggesting that the primary process should be linked to the electoral college. (The dems have REALLY had good luck with that lately, after all.) The basis for that was that Clinton had won states which represented more electoral votes than Obama.

Result: Adds to the weird desperate cloud eminating from the Clinton campaiagn and looks bad to most voters, particularly Obama supporters. But the target of the argument were the Super Delagates, and it injected into the debate another argument, good or not, that they should support Clinton by furthering the suggestion that she is the stronger candidate against McCain.

-Stroking McCain:

Very strange and disturbing effort by the Clintons to praise and stroke John McCain, suggesting that he and Clinton are the only "real" candidates and suggesting that a Clinton/McCain campaign would be civil and less divisive somehow, while conspicuously suggesting Obama is some odd-ball outsider who really doesn't deserve the nomination.

-Bill Clinton says it would be great to have a race between two people who love their country, namely Hillary and McCain, consipicuously leaving Obama out, thus leaving the suggestion that Obama doesn't "love his country". What the hell??!!

-Bill Clinton then suggests that Obama is a light-weight and can't stand the heat of a campaign. This of course is ridiculous in light of the constant whining and demands from the Clinton camp that Obama fire anyone and everyone associated with his campaign that says anything tough about Hillary.

-Hillary gets caught making it up:

Hillary Clinton apparently visited Kosovo with Chelsea and there were the usual security concerns associated with such areas in times of conflict. She was accompanied by Sinbad the comedian and Sheryl Crow as well.

It's since been shown that she's told the story many times, begining with an account in her book in which she told it relatively straight. But since that time, she's told it at least 4 or 5 times and each time it gets more dramatic, with the addition of having to do a corkscrew approach to the airport (where the pilot drops down from altitude in a corkscrew pattern to thwart ground attacks), having to ride in the more armored cockpit, sprinting from the plane heads down with sniper rounds wizzing around, a cancelled welcome ceremony, and being wisked away to safety.

None of that was true. But true to form, Hillary wouldn't just come out and say it was all made up. She tried to slow roll it and blame it on exhaustion, saying she "mis-spoke". But this ignores the fact that the story was part of her prepared remarks, and that it emerged that she'd told the tale several times in the past.

-Some kid asks Chelsea Clinton whether the Lewinsky scandal affected Hillary's credibility, to which Chelsea bristled and said it was none of his business.

This is met with approval by the convential behavior police in the media. But a closer look reveals that the question was entirely legitimate, and not some attempt to embarrass Chelsea. As a matter of fact, the student who asked it is a Hillary supporter who simply wondered if the matter had .... affected Clinton's credibility.

It wasn't a question asking Chelsea what she thought of the matter, just whether it helped or hurt her mom's credibility.

Apparently, that's not considered acceptible to discuss.

-John McCain offers a whole lot of nothing on the economy. (or anything else)

John McCain gave a big speech addressing the crucial and most important issue to most voters, the crumbling economy.

His solutions were to gather a bunch of people he figured know what they're talking about and have them talk some more about it. Make down payments on housing more expensive for buyers, and then make two statements that contradict each other. First he called for government intervention to help with the mortgage crisis, and then said he'd .... and this is unbelievable in light of the recent past, actually loosen government regulation and oversight over the financial services industry.

After Enron, Bear Strearns, and what promises to be a parade of huge corporate meltdowns due to finanical corruption and rule breaking, McCain thinks the solution is to have LESS regulation and enforcement of the very rules designed to avoid such disasters.

This guy is amazing. This is like coming out and saying that your proposal to prevent another Katrina disaster is to tear down levees that are damaged and to refuse to enforce any engineering standards for any new levees, allowing corporations to build them out of sand if they want.


Obama emerged in a dead tie with Clinton in a nationwide poll. He'd climbed up a few points, but is still well within the margin of error. I suppose this is good news for Obama, but seeing that the Dems are split RIGHT down the middle makes me want to scream. It's like Gore/Bush and Kerry/Bush all over again.

Polls indicated that reports that the big Wright hoopla was HUUGE and would drive a stake into Obama's heart were greatly exagerated. It apparently didn't hurt Obama at all, in that his negatives went down only a couple points, while interesting enough, all of Clinton's machinations and squirming have apparently backfired. The polls were taken BEFORE her big expose for lying repeatedly in exagerating the danger of a visit to Bosnia.

The polls showed that Clinton's negatives have climbed about 7 points.

-The pundits were in full frenzy yesterday chewing over the results of a poll showing that a full 20 something percent of Hillary supporters would actually vote for McCain should Obama be the nominee, while a lesser percent of Obama supporters indicated they'd vote for McCain should Clinton emerge the nominee.

First of all, I simply can't believe those numbers at all. I suspect that many of the respondents were actually Republicans, or simply partisan Dems who SAID they'd vote for McCain but never would in reality.

I also think that the media punditry is giving this far too much weight, as it's simply a new story line that they're naturally drawn too. They even have a name for it, "revenge voting", and are acting like this is a real phenomena that is at play.

I simply can't believe that there's that many Dems who are SO committed to either candidate that they'd go as far as voting for McCain if their candidate was not the nominee.

So I'm curious....

To those who support Obama:
Is there any situation in which you could see yourself voting for John McCain if Hillary is the nominee? Why?

To those who support Clinton:
Is there any situation in which you could see yourself voting for John McCain if Obama is the nominee? Why?


At 3/27/2008 6:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This (voting for McCain) is a non-story. The fact is that there are far more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Every Presidential elecetion, a large percentage of these Democrats vote Republican - this is how Republicans continue to win the White House.

This story is nothing new.

At 3/27/2008 10:35 AM, Blogger Wes said...

The whole “I’ll only vote for McCain if my candidate doesn’t win” poll is meaningless. Remember the hand wringing done by the right-wingers when McCain won the nomination? Many of them said they wouldn’t vote for him but that rhetoric has toned down and even the real nutters are lining up behind McCain. The same will happen for the Dems, regardless of who wins.

All this reporting is ignoring the larger issues in this race. Turnout for Democratic primaries has dwarfed Republican turnout in every state so far. The Democrats are much more enthused about their candidates and the issues at stake than the turnout for the R’s suggests. Also, Obama raised more money in February than John McCain has raised during the entire primary season.

All signs still point to a tremendous advantage for the Dems this fall.

At 3/27/2008 3:22 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Great points all, and good things to keep in mind when watching the pundits and news readers is cause to develop some creeping anxiety and abject fear that the Democrats are somehow going to turn a near certain victory into a train-wreck of historic proportions.

Those pundits sure do love them some storylines, and they seize on every poll or utterance as a further clue to how they should write the tale.

It just so happens that the prospect of a very nasty and near tragic implosion by the Dems seems to be the elephant in the room in all discussions of the race.

I admit, that it even makes my stomach churn at the prospect. And when I see a slight dip in this poll or bump in that, or signs that there's people out there who actually think McCain is more trustworthy than Obama or that the matchup with McCain is nearly dead even with both Obama and Clinton.... well, let's just say the scenario of losing a contest that shouldn't even be close is so blindingly horrid that I can't think about it for too long at a time.

Yes, all signs point to victory. As you point out, the huge fund raising advantage, the turn out, the masses of newly registered Dems.

And I know the polls are hinky, but when they seem to indicate independents are fallling away from Obama or flocking to Clinton... I get a bit worried.

And of course, from day to day, you never know what the hell sort of contortion or power play the Clintons are going to uncork....

It's a stressful time.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home