Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday's Results: Some Thoughts

In Pennsylvania, the Democrat beat the Republican in a congressional race, the Democrat beat the Democrat who was really a Republican in the Senate primary and, down in Arkansas, neither Democrat could beat the other Democrat in another Senate primary.

That makes the Democrats look almost…unbeatable.

highwayscribery lacks the time, funding, and staff to check up on such things, but MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow does, and she said the congressional pickup represents the seventh consecutive special election victory for the Democrats since 2008.

These results jibe exactly with what we’ve been saying over the past few days and months: that anti-incumbent sentiment cuts both ways and that the GOP isn’t ready to govern just because their opposite numbers have made some tough choices about the country's needs.

The “New York Times,” which doesn’t openly admit to reading this blog, was forced to finally soften its dyed-in-the-wool narrative of a coming Democratic debacle in November:

“For Republicans,” wrote Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny, “the failure to take an open seat that they made great efforts to capture was interpreted as a warning to curtail talk of how many seats they will win in November.”

They should have included themselves in the chastened grouping, but heck, it’s the “New York Times”!

The pundits are still talking about a scared, freaked-out electorate, because otherwise they’d have to admit how wrong their recent prognostications have been.

An occupational hazard.

But Tuesday’s elections remind us that local issues are more important to such contests than those trying to read the nation’s tea leaves in them dare admit.

Straining to divine national implications in Sen. Arlen Spector’s (D-Penn.) defeat at the hands of Joe Sestak (pictured), the media geniuses may be missing a simple reality: Sometimes you gotta go. Especially if you’ve held a seat for 30 years, beaten cancer twice, and are up against a younger, more energetic fellow who deserves a chance.

Just a thought.

In the Pennsylvania Congressional 12th contest, a working class, non-latte drinking crowd went with the last guy’s chief-of-staff, which makes the electorate seem not as angry, scared, or rabid about incumbents as we’re still being told it is.

Meanwhile, an Indiana Republican, Rep. Mark Souder, resigned his seat thanks to his affair with a married staffer.

We’ve never heard of him, but “The Times” assures us Souder is “known for his push for stronger drug penalties and abstinence-only sex education for teenagers…”

Which only goes to show that even the people who advocate such policies don’t truly believe in them.

Such paper-thin righteousness is hardly the stuff a party might expect to ride a national wave to power upon.

And good riddance.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Boilerplate Bunk

Unsurprisingly, nobody listens to highwayscribery.

On May 14 the “New York Times,” once again, peddled the “death of the Democratic majority” narrative in a prominently placed piece.

This time, it was written by Katharine Seelye, and uncovered the strong “shift of ground” in a Massachusetts congressional district currently represented by Niki Tsongas, a Democrat.

With no poll numbers to boost its contention the incumbent is in trouble, the story sticks, after the Republican/conservative fashion, to the unscientific and anecdotal; mostly impressed with the fact Ms. Tsongas is watching eight Republicans of zero stature savage one another for the right to oppose her.

You’ve read this piece before and will continue to read it for months to come as the conventional wisdom slowly petrifies into the institutional kind nobody dares challenge.

(exceptin’ us!)

Particular to all these stories is what highwayscribery calls the “boilerplate” paragraph.

Seelye uses it, as all the reporters to do, to explain the over-ballyhooed “anti-incumbent fever” which, she claims, “is rooted in anger over the federal economic stimulus package, the new health care law, and the succession of bailouts, as well as a desire by voters to feel empowered.”

That last one is a phenomenon of her own invention and not part of the classic boilerplate paragraph.

The bailout was bipartisan and accrues to the debit side of every incumbent’s account, Republican or Democrat, although it is not often presented in those terms

The rest is pap about the stimulus package and health care reform being the stuff of Democratic debacles

We are told a majority thought the stimulus unnecessary. Like numbers feel health care reform is something that, as Republicans repeated ad nauseum in their ill-fated effort to Kill-The-Bill, “was shoved down the throats of the American people.”

Rarely, if ever, is there an article focused on the millions of folks, bit-players in the current governing coalition, who fought for health care reform.
Nobody wanted it you see. Representatives and senators did what they damn well pleased because they don’t listen to or need votes.

There is a dearth of articles interviewing happy teachers who kept their jobs, parents whose kids’ schools stayed open, or construction workers relieved to be laboring on infrastructure projects funded with stimulus money.

highwayscribery does not believe this is because such stories don’t exist.

Similarly, few are the stories about where, and on what, the stimulus package is being applied.

The overall impression is that health care reform will cost Americans much, but offer them nothing while the stimulus money was poured down some black hole of unaccountability when, actually, the opposite is true.

Certainly, a goodly portion of Americans opposed these measures, but the coverage we’re talking about here renders them a majority, which is to regurgitate a Republican talking report rather than practice sound journalism.

The oft-predicted Republican resurgence set for November occurs on the commentariat’s chessboard where all things remain equal and the opposition party holds its own in spite of a pathetic performance over the course of the Obama reign.

But there are telling exceptions.

In Sunday’s “New York Times,” an interview with the former chairman of Bear Stearns,
Alan C. Greenberg confessed that, “I was a Republican for years. After the way the Republican leadership acted when the health care bill was passed, I changed my affiliation to Democrat.”

Election-year coverage, to date, suggests he is utterly alone in these sentiments.

We doubt it.