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The Media Meltdown

Mark Steyn comments:

Howie [Kurtz] feels the press is being "manipulated" by the McCain campaign.

Maybe it is. A conventional launch strategy for a little-known vice-presidential nominee might have involved "manipulating" the media into running umpteen front-pagers on Sarah Palin's amazing primary challenge of a sitting governor and getting the sob-sisters to slough off a ton of heartwarming stories about her son shipping out to Iraq.

But, if you were really savvy, you'd "manipulate" the media into a stampede of lurid drivel deriding her as a Stepford wife and a dominatrix, comparing her to Islamic fundamentalists, Pontius Pilate and porn stars, and dismissing her as a dysfunctional brood mare who can't possibly be the biological mother of the kid she was too dumb to abort. Who knows? It's a long shot, but if you could pull it off, a really cunning media manipulator might succeed in manipulating Howie's buddies into spending the month after Labor Day outbidding each other in some insane Who Wants To Be An Effete Condescending Media Snob? death-match. You'd not only make the press look like bozos, but that in turn might tarnish just a little the fellow these geniuses have chosen to anoint.

I suspect that it's just going to get worse for them, particularly when they see the generic poll for Congress.

[Update a few minutes later]

John Hinderaker has more on Howie's anger:

I'm not sure what Obama had in mind, but I find it odd that in pages of outrage devoted to the supposed excesses of the McCain campaign, Kurtz finds no room to mention the fact that prominent Democrats (not anonymous emailers, who are much worse) have said that Governor Palin is Pontius Pilate and that her primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion.

The truth is that Sarah Palin has been the object of the most vicious and concerted smear campaign in modern American history. But that fact doesn't cause the media (or Howard Kurtz) to get mad.

It's not too hard to diagnose why, as Kurtz correctly says, "the media are getting mad." They're getting mad because their candidate is losing. They've spent years building him up and covering for his mistakes and shortcomings, and he is such a stiff that he can't coast across the finish line. I'd be mad too, I guess, but I think I'd have the decency not to take it out on Sarah Palin.

Not just the decency. Also the intelligence, given how badly it continues to backfire on them.


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Bill Maron wrote:

I would love to be around them the evening of the election and ask, "Early returns show Obama, a candidate you've spent two years promoting, going down in defeat. How does that make you feel?"

Brock wrote:

It's not so much that Obama is losing, per se. Rather, I think they're mad because Sarah Palin is popular, and they had nothing to do with it, while the candidate they are promoting is falling in popularity.

It's proof that substance matters, not presentation or framing. It's proof they're just a messenger, not the message. It's a huge blow to their ego and their very belief in who they are and what they do every day. They're not losing an election, they're losing a way of life. No one reacts well to that.

Carl Pham wrote:

Don't overlook the fact that, unless Sarah Palin can be destroyed in the next two months, the forty-year lock on "women's issues" held by the Democrat/MSM party is dead.

If McCain/Palin are elected, and don't utterly screw up -- and it's hard to see how they can, assuming they leave the Bush tax cuts alone, so the economy bounces back -- then Governor Palin is instantly the default Republican nominee for President in 2016.

She will also be the immediate front-runner, and can spend several years leading up to 2016 informally campaigning, with all the stature of Air Force Two. Even if the donks hold their nose and nominate Hillary, she'll just be a 69-year-old Senator with her last claim to executive "experience" dating from 16 years earlier, probably not much of a challenge for a younger and better-spoken woman who, at that point, will be able to claim experience as small-town mayor, councilwoman, governor, and Vice President.

Furthermore, if they deliberately nominate a woman of less stature -- who? -- she'll seem an affirmative action token. Palin's tokenism this year on the Vice Presidential spot will have been forgotten in 16 years: as the sitting Veep in 2016, she would have earned the top spot fair and square, no AA required.

That ends up with the probability that the Republicans earn the "first woman President" award of which they dream. (There's also the Matt Damon nightmare of McCain dying in office, and Palin becoming President that way, then winning the next election in a nostalgia-filled landslide, a bit like LBJ in 1964.)

Even if McCain/Palin lose, if they do so because of McCain, and Palin is not damaged, she's still the presumptive GOP nominee for the top spot in 2012, and by that point she's got one and a half terms as governor of Alaska, and, again, her present tokenism is no longer relevant. If Obama/Biden screw up -- and it's hard to see how they can not, since where Obama is not an academic lightweight insulated from the real world he's got ideas radically divergent from the American mainstream, and he'll have a compliant Congress and MSM that will fully enable his follies -- then Palin has a great shot to turn Obama into Jimmy Carter II in terms of his political history as well as his ideology. The donks can't fail to renominate Obama, so while they keep the "first (half) black President" badge, with the dubious David Dinkins Memorial Glorious Symbol But Complete Fuckup In Office oak-leaf cluster, the GOP snags the "first woman President" prize.

Either way, you see, they run the risk of losing the Woman's Party label. If women start deserting them, they are doomed politically, inasmuch as they are so far behind among men, and besides have this giant identity crisis: what do they actually stand for, if they've lost the women's issues? Minority set-asides? Midnight basketball? Ha ha.

Melting Down In Panic Attack wrote:

Yeah sure Brock, it shows that substance matters doesn't it?

Kind of like this?:

One heartbeat away, and she clearly had no idea what was being asked of her. Now, it's one thing not to know what it was in it's details. Anyone who has even remotely paid attention to world affairs has at least heard of the Bush doctrine . Not so Sarah Palin. What is clear is that she didn't even know of the Bush doctrine. His worldview indeed.

You guys can talk about Spinoza, Locke, Paine and Madison. And yet feel quite content with someone a heartbeat away from the President who hasn't being paying any attention these last few years.

How does that work?

Larry J wrote:

Still off your meds, eh Anon? You've accomplishing nothing here other than making yourself an idiot.

Have a nice day.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

MDIPA wrote:
"And yet feel quite content with someone a heartbeat away from [being] the President who hasn't being [sic] paying any attention these last few years."

No most here are not content with Obama! Pay attention please ^_^

What? Obama isn't a heartbeat away from being the President? That's good news because he sure hasn't paid any attention.

Josh Reiter wrote:

Was listening to the news in the background while getting ready for work this morning and heard a story between the hurricane talk and traffic watch go something like this.

"Presidential nominee Barack Obama spoke at Columbia University yesterday and commemorated the service of those who sacrificed their lives on 9/11. McCain also spoke at Columbia University but appeared in a separate segment. McCain responded to questions regarding the investigations into, Vice Presidential candidate, Sara Palin's alleged LIES, SCANDAL, AND CORRUPTION regarding the ouster of an Alaskan government official."

I mean not only did they manage to make it sound like McCain was choosing to avoid Obama. They just slide right into busting on Palin. I shit you not they raise their voice like 10 decibels when they screamed LIES....SCANDAL....CORRRRRUPPPPPTIIIIONNN!!

Andy Freeman wrote:

According to Wikipedia, there are at least four "Bush Doctrines". Given that, why shouldn't she ask which one Charlie was referring to and answer his question?

What? You didn't know that "Bush Doctrine" is ambiguous? Neither did Charlie Gibson.

Bob wrote:


Short answer: Palin's answer didn't reveal any sense that she was aware that it was an ambiguous question.

Long answer:

On Sept 11th, Bush said "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." When he said that, my first reaction was "wow, we are going to war." (Not a very insightful thought on my part, but I was shocked at that way he said it - I knew it would matter - and I completely supported his position.)

Later, when Bush announced that we are attacking positions in Afghanistan, Bush said "Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground. If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents, they have become outlaws and murderers, themselves. And they will take that lonely path at their own peril." "

Again, my first reaction was "Wow!" I thought there were obviously big implications in what Bush was saying. I was was wrong - I thought we'd attack Syria rather than Iraq.

And around the same time, more memorably, he said "Either you are with us or against us."

These were all breathtaking pump-your-fist-in-the-air type moments. In my opinion, these were the most important moments of Bush's presidency (so far).

If I had been in Palin's shoes, I would have assumed Gibson was referring to those moments and would have answered accordingly. According to Gibson, I would have been "wrong", in that I wasn't referring to the notion of preventive war to stop the use or even the dissemination of WMDs, although obviously there are similarities of meaning there that could be teased apart. My version of the Bush Doctrine leads to Gibson's version, and Gibson and I would have had a conversation about that.

Palin's answer didn't reveal any sense that she was aware Bush had given speeches that defined the course of US foreign policy. Her answer focused on the terrorists, and not on the nations who harbor them. And that was her second answer -- her first answer was a deer-in-the-headlights moment: "His world view?" Presidential docterines don't come from "having a worldview" - they are asserted in presidential declarations. Bush has made number of definitive declarations. Palin didn't show any familiarity with them -- she acted like someone who hadn't really been paying much attention, and had suddenly been called out on it.

Rand Simberg wrote:

And around the same time, more memorably, he said "Either you are with us or against us."

It's amazing how memorable things can be when they never happened.

Bob wrote:

Rand, I just looked it up, and I'm guessing you are saying that I didn't remember the full quote, which was:

Bush: ""Over time it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity," he said. "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror.""

Bush's memorable proclamation is discussed here:
and even more specifically, the context is discussed here:

You're strengthening my point, in that it shows President Bush was making a foreign policy declaration with much similarity to the Monroe Doctrine, etc. As usual, there is a shallow but easily accessible Wikipedia list:

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on September 12, 2008 6:56 AM.

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