Sunday, August 31, 2008

I never did believe the story that there were legions of embittered Hillary supporters out there, poised to vote for McCain. In today’s Times, Frank Rich addresses media myths—“The disconnect between the reality of this campaign and how it is perceived and presented by the mainstream media is now a major part of the year’s story.” Rich doesn’t quite explain how these myths arise, but no doubt part of it has to do with the media’s need for conflict—so that even when there isn’t any, they have to make it up—and also with the “fair and balanced” bullshit that may have started out with the right intentions but has made it so that no one can be wholehearted about anything--and provided a platform for fringe groups (who may otherwise have been too small to be noticed) because reporters feel obliged to quote from the other side. And they continue to rely on poll results even though by now everyone knows (because the pollsters can only reach landlines and not cell phones) that the polls are no longer good indicators.

(And why, I wonder is hardly anyone mentioning the fact that Sarah Palin is under investigation for an ethics breach, or questioning the wisdom of a candidate who would choose a running mate under such circumstances?)

It looks as if the media is as confused as the Republicans as to what their role is in this new era. I was heartened to see that CNN’s straight coverage of the campaign won out over the other networks’ gabble of talking heads. It wasn’t just rhetoric when, in his acceptance speech, Obama said that it wasn’t about him. What the media hasn’t gotten yet, is that it’s not about them, either.


Pretty Lady said...

Oh, don't you worry, Andrew Sullivan is all over it:

Here's the real slogan the McCain campaign should now adopt:

Putting. Country. Last.

Reporters, like McCain, are running scared and clueless. They're chasing the hype because control of the substance has been taken out of their hands, largely by bloggers.

What both the media and the right wing fail to understand is that a large part of the country really has gotten past 'identity politics' for its own sake. We're looking for recognition of competence wherever we find it. Our problems have never been with an absolute underrepresentation of women and minorities in positions of power--it's that if we happen to be disciplined, gifted, and hard-working, we don't want to be dismissed, ignored, and underpaid because we're female or black. Elevating a complete incompetent to the Vice Presidency doesn't address our concerns at all. Duh.

The Democrats played this same stupid identity politics gambit in 1980, and it failed spectacularly. Thinking that it will succeed now shows that McCain and the Republicans are at the far, far, far end of the bell curve when it comes to plumbing the motives of others.

Anonymous said...

I think McCain selected her in order to set a trap for the Democrats which they have already stumbled in. While it is true that Palin does not have as much experience in the senate compared to Obama, they both have about the same experience overseas. Obama should be wary of people thrashing her over lack of experience because it could easily turn on him because of that. The Democrats are also poking fun at the fact that the blunt of her experience comes from being a mayor of a relatively small community. Again, I think that is a ploy by McCain in the hopes that Obama will once again offend little America. Small town "folks" are often ignored, but they can make a BIG impact on elections. So he should be wary of people thrashing Palin's little city experience. One slip up by Obama or his camp could end up offending millions of voters. They also will not be able to rely on the whole "historical run for president' hype now because now there is another aspect of history in the making in that Palin could be the first woman in such a high office. McCain knows what he is doing and if the Dems don't call his bluff they might botch everything up.

David said...

I hope Pretty Lady is right. I hope people will vote for competence. Call me cynical, but after weathering two elections in which "my fellow Americans" voted Bush and Cheney into office, I fear that the majority just votes for someone they can see themselves having a beer with. I do have faith that Obama is the one and that he has the political chops to say "vote confidence" in a way that turns it into something real. "This election isn't about me..." shows that he can do it. It's the beginning of a campaign that can cut through identity politics. I think he's the one, and if this country stumbles a third time, God help us and I'm moving to Montana to look at the sky.