23 April 2008

Rhetorical Question

Can someone please explain the US political commentary to me? Why is it true that if one of the Democratic candidates cannot "win" in a particular state over the other Democratic candidate, that it is immediately concluded that the particular candidate will not be able to "win" over John McCain in November? Would none of those 1.2 million-plus voters who cast for Hillary Clinton yesterday (or million-plus who voted for Barack Obama) vote for the other candidate rather than staying home or voting Republican on election day?

The political rhetoric during this primary season borders on the inane, and flipping among the various so-called cable news stations and applying half a minute's worth of logic to the noise tends to reveal the source of much of the inanity. The newsmedia need a horse race to draw viewers. To quote William Randolph Hearst from a century ago, "you supply the pictures, I'll supply the war."

[Technorati tags: | | ]

4 comments:

aaron said...

I've been rather impressed with CNN's coverage, actually — watched it for several hours last night as I prepped my living room for a new paint job.

The argument being made, is that somebody needs to win the Democratic nomination sooner rather than later, so the party's focus can turn to winning the general election. Barring a major screw-up it looks as if Barack has it on lock; and he's smartly already turned his campaigning in McCain's direction, essentially ignoring "the other candidate" in his speeches and messaging. Regardless, the longer the Democratic nomination remains up in the air, the less time the eventual winner will have to campaign for the presidency.

The only people arguing what you're talking about, from what I'm hearing anyway, are the staunch Hillary/Barack pundits. Most of them are as guilty with their ridiculous talking points as your average Democrat vs. Republican debate; they'd argue the other candidate was unelectable even if their own candidate died tomorrow. I don't think anybody's really listening to them, though they do get airtime.

I think Anderson Cooper's being doing a great job of keeping things relatively light, too. He led one segment last night by asking his panelists when this whole thing would be over already, because he's sick of it being all he hears about. And apparently during commercial breaks he doesn't let them debate politics; he gives them some random subject to talk about instead. (He'll occasionally mention this topic via his Twitter feed.)

Sorry to outwrite you, but I really do see a fantastic story being drawn out here and it's worth mentioning that.

aaron said...

(I should have proofread, forgive the obvious errors.)

Mark said...

Thanks for your perspective, aaron. Somehow I think you're watching a different CNN than I am. Both last evening and this morning, they were actively portraying Pennsylvania as a dichotomy - light blue vs. dark blue - with a clear winner and loser in each district (as they do for every election). But unless the election is a winner-take-all contest, the issue of who diametrically wins or loses is quite irrelevant to anything other than promoting (or should I say, provoking) a horse race.

The way the election has been covered by the newsmedia promotes fractioning and divisiveness (and that's an issue that separates the two candidates, interestingly enough). Not all women vote for Clinton; not all blacks vote for Obama. Last evening, not all blue-collar workers voted for Clinton, and I'm sure there were some gun-owners and bible-carrying Christians that voted for Obama. And without a doubt, Clinton received more than mere token support among the "highly educated, urban voters in Philadelphia" (speaking of stereotypes). But to listen to the likes of Cooper, Blitzer, and the rest of the CNN crew, for example, you'd think that people voted their demographic exclusively.

Makes for good TV, but bad politics, and really bad policy.

Boyd Neil said...

Not sure it makes for good TV . . . But after a year or so of trying to make a political contest interesting what are you left with? The logical follow-up question is Why bother trying so hard? (I may have answered my own question in a post on April 17th.)