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« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

November 17, 2008

Kurtz On The Obama Sycophanticism in the Press

In this morning's edition, the Washington Post's media critic Howard Kurtz has a wonderfully disturbing piece on the media's love affair with President-Elect Obama. Disturbing, that is, if you believe that it's not the media place to be cheerleading a particular politician or party.

For the sake of my sanity, I'll suggest that you read the piece for yourself. I'll only provide you with Kurtz's closing, which is excellent:

There is always a level of excitement when a new president is coming to town -- new aides to profile, new policies to dissect, new family members to follow. But can anyone imagine this kind of media frenzy if John McCain had managed to win?

Obama's days of walking on water won't last indefinitely. His chroniclers will need a new story line. And sometime after Jan. 20, they will wade back into reality.


Heh...

Murdoch On Old Media vs. New Media

Via Instapundit, CNET has a very good report on remarks that the News Corps' Rupert Murdoch made in recent lectures held by the Australian Broadcast Corporation, Murdoch to media: You dug yourself a huge hole.

Because it is Murdoch, the Left will have their usual hissy fit and attempt to ignore what he says. That would be a mistake. Here are a few excerpts:

"My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it's not newspapers that might become obsolete. It's some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper's most precious asset: the bond with its readers."

"The complacency stems from having enjoyed a monopoly--and now finding they have to compete for an audience they once took for granted. The condescension that many show their readers is an even bigger problem. It takes no special genius to point out that if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time getting them to buy your product. Newspapers are no exception."

"It used to be that a handful of editors could decide what was news-and what was not. They acted as sort of demigods. If they ran a story, it became news. If they ignored an event, it never happened. Today editors are losing this power. The Internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren't satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog and cover and comment on the news yourself. Journalists like to think of themselves as watchdogs, but they haven't always responded well when the public calls them to account."


Read the whole article. Murdoch is not pessimistic about the future of the newspaper industry - he just thinks that it had to change and adapt. And clean up its own act.

Washington Post on Five Liberal Election Myths

In this morning's Washington Post, Chris Cillizza quickly debunks the following five myths that the mainstream media is trying to promote about Election 2008:

1. The Republican Party suffered a death blow.  Cillizza correctly points out that many of us viewed the potential election of John McCain as the lesser of two evils - that to really rebuild the party, the GOP had to hit rock bottom. That is the only way that we'll purge the ranks of deadwood, aka the brainiacs who got us into this mess in the first place. And Cillizza also correctly points out that the opposition party usually gains seats in the following mid-term election.

2. A wave of black voters and young people was the key to Obama's victory.  Didn't happen. There was only a statistically insignificant (a point or less) uptick in those constituencies' turnout. The problem for the GOP was that Republicans and conservative didn't turn out to vote for the 'maverick' McCain. He didn't even come close to getting the same share of the bases' vote that President Bush did in 2000 and 2004.

3. Now that they control the White House and Congress, Democrats will usher in a new progressive era. Oh they will try, and Pelosi and Reid will probably overreach. But many new Democrats are in traditionally conservative districts, so they will be hard pressed to go along.

4. A Republican candidate could have won the presidency this year. Here's where I differ with Cillizza - he doubts it, I think that it would have been difficult, but acheivable. Admittedly, the currents (and media) were against the GOP. But all that means is that Obama, if he really is what the media built him up to be, should have won by 20 points going away. He didn't. McCain and his advisors blew it, big time. It's almost as if they didn't want to win the Presidency.

5. McCain made a huge mistake in picking Sarah Palin.  Here, Cillizza hits the nail on the head, although he should have expressed it more forcefully. Critics are looking at how the pick of Palin affected moderates and independents. But that wasn't the point of picking Palin. McCain was the candidate who 'should' have attracted those in the middle. Palin was picked to get conservatives and the base back in the fold. And she did - giving McCain his brief lead in September. Then the economy blew up and the Senator did what he should have done - briefly suspend his campaign to go to Washington - but followed up by absolutely botching his response to the crisis. Race over. I'd also like to add that had McCain's handlers decided to help Palin rather than hurt her, the race would have been even closer. But it still wouldn't have made up for the inadequacies at the toip of the ticket.


All in all, a fine column. Pretty good to see it coming out of the Washington Post this soon after the election.

November 11, 2008

Obama's Promises - A List to Keep and Refer to, Often

From IBD this morning, A Checklist Of Obama's Many Promises. Let's see how many last to Inauguration Day.
Remember, "Change We Need"!

Taxes

• Give a tax break to 95% of Americans.
• Restore Clinton-era tax rates on top income earners.
• "If you make under $250,000, you will not see your taxes increase by a single dime. Not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes. Nothing."
• Dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes.
• Give American businesses a $3,000 tax credit for every job they create in the U.S.
• Eliminate capital gains taxes for small business and startup companies.
• Eliminate income taxes for seniors making under $50,000.
• Expand the child and dependent care tax credit.
• Expand the earned income tax credit.
• Create a universal mortgage credit.
• Create a small business health tax credit.
• Provide a $500 "make work pay" tax credit to small businesses.
• Provide a $1,000 emergency energy rebate to families.

Energy

• Spend $15 billion a year on renewable sources of energy.
• Eliminate oil imports from the Middle East in 10 years.
• Increase fuel economy standards by 4% a year.
• Weatherize 1 million homes annually.
• Ensure that 10% of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012.

Environment

• Create 5 million green jobs.
• Implement a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• Get 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015.

Labor

• Sign a fair pay restoration act, which would overturn the Supreme Court's pay discrimination ruling.
• Sign into law an employee free choice act — aka card check — to make it easier for unions to organize.
• Make employers offer seven paid sick days per year.
• Increase the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2009.

National security

• Remove troops from Iraq by the summer of 2010.
• Cut spending on unproven missile defense systems.
• No more homeless veterans.
• Stop spending $10 billion a month in Iraq.
• Finish the fight against Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida terrorists.

Social Security

• Work in a "bipartisan way to preserve Social Security for future generations."
• Impose a Social Security payroll tax on incomes above $250,000.
• Match 50% of retirement savings up to $1,000 for families earning less than $75,000.

Education

• Demand higher standards and more accountability from our teachers.

Spending

• Go through the budget, line by line, ending programs we don't need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.
• Slash earmarks.

Health care

• Lower health care costs for the typical family by $2,500 a year.
• Let the uninsured get the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress get.
• Stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
• Spend $10 billion over five years on health care information technology.


Promises, promises...

Fascinating Diageo/Hotline Poll on Expectations For Obama

Just received in my e-mail the results of the latest Diageo/Hotline Poll, this one on the expectations that the nation has for President Elect Barack Obama, AMERICAN VOTERS “CONFIDENT” OBAMA WILL BRING ABOUT “REAL CHANGE”.

The poll tells us several different things. First, that the American public actually believed Obama when he promised to bring change. Second, they have high expectations for Obama and his Democratic Congress - which does not bode well for him if he fails to deliver. And third, they were fooled by Barack Obama when he claimed to be bipartisan. The President-Elect doesn't have a bipartisan bone in his body. He's never before been bipartisan. But the public assumes that he is going to govern that way.

First, let's look at what the general population expects Obama to do:

TOP PRIORITY FOR OBAMA AND NEW CONGRESS
Among all voters, n=800

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE    24%
FINANCIAL MARKET REGULATION    22%
MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUT    21%
NATIONAL HEALTH CARE    15%


Next, let's look at what the Democrats want Obama to do:

TOP PRIORITY FOR OBAMA AND NEW CONGRESS
Among Democratic Voters, n=310

MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUT    29%
FINANCIAL MARKET REGULATION    22%
NATIONAL HEALTH CARE    19%
ENERGY INDEPENDENCE    13%
INFRASTRUCTURE    10%
INFRASTRUCTURE    8%


Now let's look at how the public expects both Obama and the Democratic Congress to govern:

The Poll finds that voters are extremely eager to see bipartisanship both in the approach and the make-up of the incoming administration.

By a large 25-point margin, voters would rather see Obama compromise and cooperate with the Republicans (58%) than see him pursue his agenda with few changes and potentially engage in conflict with Republicans (33%).

Likewise, 61% of voters say they want to see Obama's cabinet and close advisors reflect an equal composition of Democrats and Republicans. Only 24% said he should surround himself mostly with Democrats and only 6% said he should surround himself only with Democrats.

"President-elect Obama ends this campaign with very high approval ratings but also very high expectations that he'll be able to translate his campaign themes of bipartisanship and ‘change' into action," commented Amy Walter, Editor-in-Chief of The Hotline.


Boy, is America going to be in for a surprise!

November 10, 2008

Media Tells Us That They Were in the Bag For Obama

Last Wednesday, I had an interesting discussion with a businesswoman friend of mine. She was claiming that the media wasn't in the tank for Obama this election. As she's someone whose opinion I respect,I was quite surprised by her statement, especially when the exact opposite was so apparent to me.

Yesterday, when the Washington Post's ombudsman Deborah Howell published the following article, An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage, my friend was the first one I thought of. I brought a print-out of the article down to her (she owns a Chinese restaurant), and was surprised at the intensity of her response. She was, to put it bluntly, pissed - and wondered why in the world the Post would run that piece now, after the election.

I too often forget that most people still operate under the false assumption that the media reports straight facts, with no bias or other intent.

From Howell's piece:

The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.


Thank's for nothing...

Greatest Voter Turnout in History? Didn't Happen...

One of the media memes leading up to the election, and even continuing for a few days afterwords, was that the candidacy of Barack Obama was going to attract the highest voter turnout in US history. Well, the Politico is now reporting that such a turnout didn't happen. In fact, the 2008 turnout was remarkably similar to the turnout in the Presidential election of 2004, when Bush beat Kerry.

The main difference between 2004 and 2008? Republicans didn't turn out at the polls in the same numbers this year. From the article, That huge voter turnout? Didn't happen:

Despite widespread predictions of record turnout in this year’s presidential election, roughly the same portion of eligible voters cast ballots in 2008 as in 2004.

Between 60.7 percent and 61.7 percent of the 208.3 million eligible voters cast ballots this year, compared with 60.6 percent of those eligible in 2004, according to a voting analysis by American University political scientist Curtis Gans, an authority on voter turnout.

He estimated that between 126.5 million and 128.5 million eligible voters cast ballots this year, versus 122.3 million four years ago. Gans said the gross number of ballots cast in 2008 was the highest ever, even though the percentage was not substantially different from 2004, because there were about 6.5 million more people registered to vote this time around.

The historic candidacy of President-elect Barack Obama, as well as the emphasis his campaign put on early voting and Election Day turnout, led many media and academic pundits to speculate that voter turnout this year would increase dramatically. In the run-up to the vote, even John McCain’s top pollster, Bill McInturff, joined other experts in predicting that turnout might surpass 130 million.

In 2004, turnout was 6 percentage points higher than in 2000. But Gans said he believed it did not spike more this year because fewer Republicans went to the polls. While it may be premature to draw conclusions, Gans said, it appeared that Republican voting declined 1.3 points, to 28.7 percent of the electorate, while Democratic turnout rose from 28.7 percent to 31.3 percent of the electorate.

The Democratic increase struck some analysts as modest, considering the party’s immense get-out-the-vote operation, strong anti-Bush sentiment and Obama's popularity.

“It sort of calls into question some of the vaunted ground game discussion, the whole turnout machine,” said a Democratic strategist who did not want to be quoted by name criticizing Obama’s campaign. “The GOTV effort was redoubled in 2008 compared to 2004, but it did not seem to make that big of a difference.”


The fact of the matter is that John McCain couldn't turn out the conservative GOP voters that he needed to turn out. Why? Because it's difficult to support a candidate who has been basically poking you and your conservative beliefs in the eye since 2000. Until McCain needed their votes, that is.

November 05, 2008

Republicans Deserved to Lose, Again...

A great, great open letter written by Jon Henke has just been posted over at The Next Right, Republicans deserved to lose:

Dear Republicans,

You earned the beating you took yesterday.  You earned every bit of it.  It is your fault.  Democrats may or may not have deserved to win, but you deserved to lose.

The rebuilding and renewal of the Right will start soon.  This will be very important.   The Right and the Republican Party are at an inflection point, and there are many directions things can go.   The destiny of the Right and the Republican Party will be determined in large part by the decisions you make in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Some of you will say "we have learned our lesson", and then try to pass off cosmetic changes as Reform.  You are the problem.

Some of you will say "Republicans need to fight/hold Democrats accountable", as if it is sufficient to be against Democrats.  The pendulum may eventually swing back to you, but you won't know what to do with it.

Some of you will say "Republicans need to carry our message to the American people", as if the problem is that Republicans haven't been saying "tax cuts and limited government" loudly enough.  The problem is not the inability to communicate; the problem is that you have no idea how to actually deliver on those ideas.

Others will say "Republicans need to be more principled", as if the problem is a mere lack of personal courage and principle by Republicans.  Even the best people can't limit government if there is not an effective strategy for implementation - for getting "from here to there".  You don't need better people.  You need a better strategy.

The problem is not Republican politicians, although many Republicans politicians are a problem.  The problem is not with the basic ideals of limited government and personal freedom, either.  The problem is a movement that plays small-ball and cedes responsibility for infrastructure to business interests, leadership that rewards those who make friends rather than waves, an entrenched Party and Movement support system that mostly supports itself, an echo chamber that has rotted our intellect, a grassroots that is ill-equipped to shape the Republican Party, and a Republican Party that has replaced strategy with tactics, substance with marketing.

These problems can be fixed, but the fix is not cosmetic.  The rot is deep.  We do not need reformation of the Republican Party; we need transformation of the Republican Party.  That is going to require fresh blood, new ideas, new infrastructure...and perhaps more than a little time in the wilderness.

You have earned the time you will spend wandering in the wildnerness.  The land on the other side is not a promised land.   It will have to be earned, too.

Why McCain Held Back

Also from NRO, an excerpt from a great post by Lisa Schiffren, Explicating the Concession Speech, that goes a long way in explaining a question that's been bugging me for a while - why John McCain didn't run like he wanted to win until the very end of the campaign:

The Fox News reporter who had covered the campaign, whose name escapes me, reported, forthrightly, that some McCain aides had felt for a while that their candidate had had a deep reluctance to impede the election of the nation's first African American president. That he had, perhaps, pulled punches and failed to strike as hard as necessary to win this thing, for that greater good. The report was infuriating, since more depended on the election than changing the race dynamic — which, it must be said, has been changed for some time, and did not require this particular symbol to validate it. To be sure, McCain must have known that his campaign was losing — and did not want to swing blindly. And maybe he didn't like being called "erratic," "desperate", and a "racist" every time the inconvenient facts of Barack Obama's short past came up for discussion.

But all Republicans who watched their candidate these past few months, must have been struck, as I have been, by the sense that he was holding back. I wondered, too often, how it could be that no one at the campaign could frame and muster the arguments that were clear to all conservative writers here and at the other publications and blogs that share our view. When the arguments were made, they were too little, too late, and garbled enough to drain their force. The campaign had it's (very serious) flaws, but it seems that the reluctance to aim and shoot cleanly, was due to the candidate's internal conflict here. Contrast that with the campaign style of the Vice Presidential candidate, who seemed quite interested in winning, and was willing to call things by name to make the case against the opposition.


I'm wondering if McCain is going to be a plus, or continue to be a negative, for conservatives in the GOP. After all, this loss was a fairly firm repudiation of his governing ideology - part moderate, part media pet.

Jonah's Deadwood Post

Over at NRO, Jonah Goldberg posted the following clip from Deadwood. Good advise for us all:


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