Archive for category Sarah Palin

Blaming the Media

To the Romney campaign there is one reason their candidate is doing poorly: the media.

Perhaps the worst sign for Mitt Romney supporters is the obsession conservative pundits have with blaming the media for their candidate’s lack of popularity.  Blaming the media is always the last recourse of a campaign in distress, and on the right it’s been a kind of security blanket, helping them avoid confronting hard realities.  Rather than question whether or not their message resonates with American voters, they say it would if only the media would frame it correctly.

There’s a kind of disconnect when people who watch Fox news and listen to talk radio complain about media bias — indeed, what they’re really complaining about is that the media doesn’t share the Fox news bias!

Consider:  Mitt Romney’s leaked tape was a big story – one of the biggest in the campaign, coming just over six weeks before the election.   The attack in Libya was also big news, a small but deadly terror attack on the 11th anniversary of 9-11.   Both got play.   Tough questions were asked.

To the right: the media should be focused like a laser on Obama’s “crumbling narrative” about what happened in Libya.   At least that’s claim Mona Charen makes is an especially whiney and vapid article attacking the press as being pro-Obama.   So what is the “crumbling narrative?”   Well, to find that you have to read a right wing interpretation of the news, since it doesn’t come from the White House.

President Obama calls the attack in Libya a terrorist attack that was coordinated, and not a spontaneous response to a movie.    Beyond that they so far refuse to say more until they finish their investigation.    The White House has been pretty consistent on that, even if they did criticize the intolerance and dishonesty of a video which sparked protests in other parts of the Mideast.

But the right wants a crumbling narrative, so they construct it through a patchwork of quotes taken out of context, building an artificial narrative they then can ridicule.    Take a few quotes from the UN Ambassador, take another quote here or there from minor officials, ignore all the statements from the President and Secretary of State, and then claim that Obama says the attacks were purely in response to the video and weren’t terror attacks.

Huh?    Oh, it gets better.   They then take the President’s claim that overall this is a bump in the road in the process of change for the region and say Obama is heartlessly calling the death of a diplomat “a bump.”

To get the GOP narrative, you need The Onion!   Yet, Charen claims, that’s how the press should be focused.    Anything else is a pro-Obama conspiracy.

That’s it?   That’s proof the press is supporting Obama?   Oh, Charen says, there’s more – Obama made a gaffe in Poland a year or so ago by mistakenly saying “Polish death camps” on a visit.   I remember that, the press and conservatives skewered Obama for days.   But now, Charen whines, the press should be praising Romney for getting what was “basically” an endorsement from Lech Walesa, who stood up to Communism.   Instead, she complains, the press covered an outburst from a Romney aide.

If this is a vast conspiracy, why does she have to reach way back to July to find evidence?   And is she saying the press shouldn’t have covered the outburst?   Earth to Charen, you swear at reporters it’ll get covered regardless of who does it! But the press did cover Walesa’s comments.    She fails to mention that Walesa (who has some of his own scandals) did not have the support of his own party, whose leadership rejected Romney for his anti-labor stance.    That doesn’t fit the narrative Charen believes the press should follow.

It’s not just the right – critics on the left deride the media corporate shills

Either one of two things are happening.   If you’re a Romney supporter,  you better hope it’s the first.

1.   The Romney campaign knows things are going poorly so they’re trying to pressure the press to give them good coverage.   They want to get the press to tell things the way the Romney camp wants it told.

That’s fine, though Charen’s article makes a pretty poor case.   But if the perception gets created that the press is unfair, they might go more gently on Romney.   Can’t blame them for trying that – Kerry’s campaign made similar complaints in 2004.

2.   Romneyworld is so locked into its view of reality that it truly believes they are victims of a media conspiracy and don’t understand that their campaign is the problem.

If that’s happening, Romney is toast.    They’re getting poor coverage because they are running a bad campaign.   This is not controversial, pundit after pundit on the right has been saying the same thing.     They’re doing poorly because Romney is not a good candidate.   People don’t like him, he let himself get defined by the Obama team last summer and hasn’t done much of anything to define himself.

It’s a close race, but Obama has the lead.   If Romney’s going to turn it around he has to turn around his campaign.   A first move is to stop whining.   When you whine it reinforces the image that you’re losing.     More importantly, he has to show he’s a leader.   Right now Romney appears to be a follower – a moderate who has veered to the right because that’s what his campaign wants.   People don’t think he believes in anything or has clear principles.   He is, in essence, the anti-Reagan.

“Stop it. This is hard work. Do you want to try it?” Ann Romney’s words could also be said to defend the replacement refs in the NFL. It is hard. But right now the Romney campaign team is operating with the same quality of work that the replacement refs provide to the NFL.

Consider Romney’s own words:  “And I realize that there will be some in the Fourth Estate, or whichever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran. They’ll instead try and find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country.”

(Whichever estate?)

Get it – the media should ONLY write about the economy, geopolitics, the threat of war, or Iran.   Covering the campaign or what the candidates say, do or plan is a distraction.   It doesn’t work that way, Mitt – it never has.  The media cover a myriad of topics, and when an embarrassing tape is leaked, they’ll cover it.    They covered Obama’s and Biden’s gaffes too.  Remember all the play the Biden “in chains” comment got?   These same critics and the Romney campaign were all over Biden for a week on that!  And who made an out of context “you didn’t build that” quote the center point of their convention?

No matter how the right pushes the “media conspiracy” line, it’s a sure loser.    It’s the Romney campaign’s fault that they’re in the position they are in.   Only they can change it.


Palin a Shooting Star

Sarah Palin’s surreal resignation has sparked considerable debate and speculation.    Is she preparing for another scandal, perhaps one involving her house in Wasilla?   Rumors have been flying around the internet about a possible state or federal investigation.    Palin only made it worse by threatening to sue major media outlets and bloggers who mention that speculation.    I don’t think she realizes that the media relishes the chance to stand up to such a threat, especially when it is as impotent as that one, and serves only to make her look silly.

Perhaps a scandal is afoot, perhaps she was too thin skinned to simply accept that she’d get some negative media and couldn’t take the heat, perhaps she had some wild fantasy that this could launch a national campaign, but the fact of the matter is Sarah Palin’s chance for the political limelight is over.   She’s committed the crime of hypocrisy (quitting after earlier condemning quitters), poor planning (an impulsive resignation combined with a rambly, even pathetic speech), no follow through (she disappeared on July 4th — though at least she made no claim to be hiking the Appalachian trail), and pouting.   She whined about negative media, played the victim, and seemed to think that the only legitimate coverage of her was that from the fawning activist right wing (by that I do not mean Republicans and average conservatives, most of whom were not wowed by her at all — instead I mean the Limbaugh ‘all Liberals are evil’ minority who have tried to hijack the GOP) who ignored her short comings.  Some say that the neo-cons were trying to groom her to be a pro-Israel  hawk that they could control, others think she was simply in over her head.  I believe she is just a shooting star who is starting to fade.

Most will read the 300 words of this post until this point to be very negative, and even mean.   Yet look at what was written about Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and other big name politicians by those who opposed them.  Clinton was a draft dodging traitor who sold out to Red China, Obama a radical socialist Muslim who wasn’t really born in Hawaii, W. Bush a boozing frat boy who can’t think straight and is driven by some kind of belief in his holy mission, Hillary a lesbian power hungry unethical she-wolf who devours opponents whole and had a close associate killed in 1993…well, you get the picture.   Anyone who is anything in politics gets a huge dose of unfair criticism, often over the top.

The criticism of Palin is minor compared to the examples listed above, yet it stung more, in part because it seemed  to fit.    Palin did not seem ready for the big leagues, and the fact that John McCain chose her in his first “Presidential” decision is a big reason why he had no real shot at winning the election.  It’s not that Palin is uniquely bad or inept as a person;  rather, she is bad and inept at being a national politician ready to take control of the country.

So am I.   If I were suddenly in the limelight, scrutinized by the media and having everything I do and have done under investigation, I’d be a failure.  I’d commit gaffes, have to defend outlandish things I’ve said from time to time, and would not be careful about what I said or when I said it.   It takes a special kind of person who can handle the pressure of being on the national stage and being effective.  Obama has what it takes.   Even Bush the Younger, despite failings as a President, could handle that national stage.   Sarah Palin, like me and probably 98% of the rest of the country, just doesn’t have what it takes.

It’s as if a football fan were suddenly to don a jersey and be given the handoff in a pro game, with the defense thinking they’re going after a top notch running back.  Without the proper training and preparation not only would the fan be tackled instantly, but probably would be injured badly.   Going from small town mayor to Alaskan governor simply was not enough to prepare Palin.   She was hit by a media and opposition used to going after the pros.    She couldn’t take it and with the help of a few enablers flailed back with self-pitying attacks on those who dared criticize her or her family.  It’s sexism!  East coast liberal elitism!  Media bias!   No.  It’s just the political game she happened to find herself a part of; after all, within the GOP and even the McCain campaign similar things were being said.  It wasn’t all from the Left.

Still, one can see why she caught McCain’s imagination.  At first even I thought that it was a smart pick, contradicting myself a couple days later to re-label it a dumb pick. She looked good on paper — mother raising a family, conservative yet young — a woman in the year Hillary lost to the surprising Barack Obama.  If she had the acumen to play effectively on the national stage, and the understanding of national politics to jump into a campaign, she’d have been a super star.  As it was, she was like most of us — probably smart and reasonably knowledgable, but not ready to be put in the political limelight.   She did capture the imagination of some on the right, and for awhile seemed to have the potential to make a dash at the 2012 Republican nomination, especially if other top Republicans feared going against an incumbent Obama.

Now, that lays in shambles.  It’s not just what she did, it’s how she did it, and the fact it opens questions about a possible scandal.  Even if she just wanted  to set herself up for 2012, it did the opposite.   It means she ends up with about 17 months of being a Governor atop being mayor of a small town, and leaving that town in debt with a white elephant sports complex as her major “accomplishment.”  She looks like an under-accomplished quitter, rather than an up and coming star.

Yet perhaps it’s for the best.   She may have realized she was in over her head.  Or worse, she may have believed some of the hype and still  thinks she can make a splash.  If so, she’s setting herself up for disappointment.  Assuming I’m right and she ends up fading away, a shooting start that just couldn’t handle the pressure, she’ll end up as one of the strangest side stories of what was an historical and exciting 2008 election.