Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't Get Cocky

The last of the three presidential debates is over. This one I didn't bother to watch, knowing that it would be just like the last two, although the increasing desperation of the McCain campaign (who somehow managed to turn frightening comments from their supporters at recent Republican rallies into talking points) is apparently showing more and more. 

I also avoid the post-debate interviews where both sides spin who they think "won" the debate. Let's be serious - neither side wants or needs to have a "real" debate. There's no comparison of economic plans. There's no real discussion of Iraq (which, amazingly, seems to be on track to schedule troop withdrawals during Bush's final months - that's "schedule," not "withdrawal" mind you). 

However, seeing as the larger consensus is that McCain has failed to staunch the bleeding and that the Republicans are finally going down in flames in a big way this year, I thought it would be interesting to find some quotes from Fox News' webpages to see how they're handling it over there. It makes for some interesting reading. Note that they have comments from the other side, although they tended to choose comments that "showed" McCain's superiority while saying that he was doomed. Republicans are now in damage control mode and this election is all but over.

Christopher Coffey, a Republican political consultant, noted that Obama remaining cool and collected during the debate had "the unintended consequence of making him look appear presidential." Wow, two slaps in less than ten words. That implies that getting good and pissed off is better in a presidential candidate, that or that Obama had no intention of looking presidential. Plus the "appear" part. I have to tell you, one of Obama's selling points for me is that he'd be a good man in a storm. If you "appear" cool and collected under pressure, that doesn't make you "appear" presidential, it makes you look presidential.

Mark Joseph, who wrote a book about Palin called "Sarah Baracudda" (and this year I can't tell if that's a compliment or not), said that, "Overall, McCain wins, but what these debates highlight is how superior a candidate Barack Obama is." Huh? The point of the debate is to highlight how superior a candidate is. If Barack is a better candidate, he wins the debate, exclusive of how you feel on the issues.

Richard Miller, an author who clearly favored McCain, states that "Markets and not politicians, are now what's in the saddle!" So McCain loses because of the market? Or because that's what important to people right now and they have more faith in Obama for domestic policy? That's one of the things that beat George HW Bush in 1992, although in that case it was Republicans voting for Ross Perot instead. Interestingly, excluding Hoover's presidency (which was in the middle of the Depression), as a composite the country has seen more economic growth under Democrats than Republicans (considerably better if you add Hoover in the mix, who was GOP). However, if you take out W and Nixon as well, Republicans do better by a nose. There were no losses under Democrats. Take that as you will, God knows we all are the last ten years.

Ellen Ratner, the Bureau Chief of Talk Radio News Service and a political commentator on Fox, was one of the few who baldly stated that Obama won, blaming McCain clearly for the loss. She spoke of how the topic of "Joe the Plumber" (a man who will be hounded unmercifully by the press right up to Nov 6th) elicited snickers from pretty much everyone in the press box every time McCain brought it up. Her comment tells me that the Republicans will blame McCain for the loss, not for the party that rammed Palin down his throat. Look for a tell-all from McCain at the end of his career about how none of it was his fault, a la Scott McClellan. 

Lanny Davis, a former White House Special Counsel, blamed television. Really. The point was that Obama is going to do better in that medium, and McCain was doomed in the debates from the start. An interesting counterpoint to Ratner, who felt that McCain's behavior, not his presence, was what killed him in the debate.

Andrea Tantaros, a Republican political commentator, said that McCain won the first 20 minutes, which was all that mattered, because after that everyone went to sleep. She then claimed Obama "waxed poetic" about "Republican" mores such as personal responsibility and tried to tie it into Jessica Simpson, a clear swipe at the "celebrity" ads the Republicans put out during the late summer. Because Democrats clearly aren't concerned about personal responsibility. And W certainly is. To Republicans - if you're tired of the left portraying you as greedy, rich bastards, perhaps you might do the Christian thing and turn the other cheek for a while and stop portraying Democrats as lazy socialists who don't want to work for a living. Democrats are as patriotic, as hard-working, as brave, as smart, and as clever as Republicans. And equally not all of those things at the same time. I'm becoming convinced that, side issues such as religion aside, the core difference between the left and the right is that the right thinks that you get what you deserve, while the left knows it isn't true too much of the time. 

Cal Thomas, the Right's pet African-American (see how many black faces you see at McCain rallies - they are damned few and far between) felt this was McCain's strongest showing yet. A strange result, seeing as the early polls are giving Obama his strongest result yet. He also said that the Republicans were issuing a challenge to the American people to take back and rebuild their country. Apparently from themselves. 

Fred Barnes, another Fox political commentator, felt that McCain dropped the ball by not taking up the issue of abortion more strongly. Because that's clearly what's wrong with the country, too many abortions. On a planet that is running out of room, out of resources, out of time, and all largely because there are simply too damned many people on it, the abortion issue is one that will run out of steam in the next 20 years when our very survival depends upon birth control of Chinese proportions. Not to mention that two Bush appointees to the Supreme Court haven't even tried to overturn Roe vs Wade. Why? Because the minute they do, the energy that the Right has controlled by drumming up opposition to choice goes straight back to the Left. It's always the people who feel oppressed who work the hardest. 

This commentary (and others I've left out) can be seen here. I recommend that you go take a look for yourself rather than just read the excerpts I've chosen to post, as I do with any quote used for political purposes. Of course, Fox chose these quotes as well, so make of them what you will. Any "news" organization claiming to be both "fair and balanced" and clearly partisan at the same time (Bill Kristol has said it in public on repeated occasions) is really only one of the two, and I'm guessing the latter. Now is when the Right will begin to feed on it's own in an effort to salvage what is looking more and more like the end of the Republican Revolution that began in 1994. For someone who understands that hard work isn't always rewarded, and that often no work at all is rewarded even more, it's about freakin' time. 


George said...

"Ellen Ratner, the Bureau Chief of Talk Radio News Service and a political commentator on Fox,"

Ellen is also a frequent guest on the progressive radio station in Doug's neck of the woods. From her friendly interactions with the morning show's hosts I get the impression that she is actually left-leaning, if not tipping over...

I think that is why she was one of the few that said Senator Obama won the debate.

Dug said...

I suspected Ratner leaned left, but what was more important was that her commentary was included on a Fox News wrap up of pundits, and I'm pretty sure we all agree that Fox is right-leaning, if not tipping over. This entry was as much about what Fox republished and how it was intended to shape conservative opinion as the comments themselves.