1 year ago
Like these two commenters on my most recent blog post, I think fervent hope and bitter disappointment are both entirely appropriate ways to feel in the run-up to and in the aftermath of an election:To have so much invested in the world’s greatest contest; I think if it were me and even if Nate Silver had concluded I would lose, I too would be hoping against hope on election night, which would in turn lead to this kind of colossal letdown.Doris Keans Goodwin talked on Colbert Report about how this dissapointment after losing is pretty typical.
But that’s not quite what we’re talking about in this case. In this case, Romney and his team seemed quite certain that they would win.
Here’s a telling little morsel taken from an interview that Robert Gibbs did with Fox News on Tuesday that sheds some light both on the way that the right-wing media portrayed the run-up to the election — namely that Mittmentum would overwhelm Obama — and the way in which the most recent GOP contender went into the final day with a firm grasp of the way the campaign had played out:
Brian Kilmeade said that he had spoken with Sen. John McCain who confided that he knew on election day in 2008 that he was going to lose. Kilmeade asked Gibbs what he thought it meant that today’s election is truly a tossup and few are certain of the outcome. “Is the fact that it’s even this close disappointing to you and others,” Kilmeade asked.
“No,” Gibbs replied. “I think people forget that, four years ago, even though you said John McCain knew he was going to lose, Barack Obama got 53 percent of the vote. That means he didn’t get 47 percent of the vote that day. That’s a pretty closely divided election.”
He concluded saying that he felt good about Obama’s chances tonight and said that every battleground state could be won by the president.
David Freedlander did a piece for the Daily Beast the other day that grabbed some quotes on losing big elections from famous losers. They’re incredibly helpful in sorting out the difference between the hope that one might still win somehow and the certainty that one will win:
Here’s Walter Mondale:
Unlike maybe a lot of people it became pretty apparent pretty early that it was going to be very very hard. Reagan was sort of celestial I would say at that point. We had some momentum where we would hope a little bit. We had a very strong convention. We came out of the convention maybe even, but then it slipped substantially. And then the other point was when the first debate ended, it looked like we were getting a good bounce out of that debate but it disappeared in the second debate. And then the last oh, couple of weeks before the election I was just campaigning hard to do as well as I could. I wasn’t preparing my inaugural address. And I think most of us knew that. I didn’t want a collapse that would hurt Democrats who were running for other offices. So I would say there was a not a lot of dreaming going on there in those days. It wasn’t like now when you are fighting over one-tenth of one percent. We didn’t have any of that.
Here’s Bob Dole:
In our case we knew we were in trouble, but you still hope that lightning might strike, that something happens and you can pull it off. If you don’t keep a stiff upper lip, you will start losing all of your good supporters. If you don’t remain optimistic, what are the odds that people around you will?
We did a 96-hour all nighter—I see Obama did a 48-hour all nighter, well, we did 96 hours in ’96, where we could rev up the troops in places we visited. And also, I had in the back of my mind that I may lose but I didn’t want to take a bunch of senators, House members with me. But I wasn’t worried about keeping up appearances.
Here’s Michael Dukakis:
You never stopped even though I thought I blew the election by not responding to the Bush attack campaign. It turned out to be the biggest mistake I ever made. You knew going in that it was going to be you or the other guy. I knew I wasn’t ahead but thought I had a shot, and in fact we were closing fairly rapidly until the Boston Herald—no friend of mine—ran an edition the Thursday before the election, and the headline was “What a Mess.” By that time the recession was having an impact on the state, and that headline was about me. And Bush held it up at a press conference and the closing of the gap stopped. It didn’t mean we didn’t keep working.
If you go back and look at what Mondale, Dukakis, Dole, and McCain all say, it’s very clear these politicians knew they would lose but continued to hope otherwise. If you go back and look at what happened with Romney, it’s very clear he was convinced he would win. Indeed, the Fox News interview with Gibbs is telling once again because — if you look carefully at the wording — the interviewers are all suggesting that it’s Obama who should feel like John McCain felt on the last day of the 2008 campaign, not Romney.
Is this just a case of excessive optimism, of the mentality that determination and a gut feeling matter more than polling data? Or is this really about the way in which a fairly large segment of the American Right engages in a sort of disbelief whenever confronted by unpleasant truths?
More and more, I’m inclined to think it’s the latter.
1 year ago
I wondered what it would be like to have watched only Fox News for the past four years and then to have to confront the reality of last night’s elections results.
Over at the Atlantic Wire, Elspeth Reeve shows us exactly what it would be like, using animated GIFs of Fox’s own election coverage:
“Are you comfortable with your call in Ohio with the doubts Karl Rove just raised?” “We’re actually quite comfortable with the call,” the nerds replied. Oh.
“Right now there’s too much Obama” votes, Nerd 1 says, for Romney to make up. “Yes there are a number of counties out there that will come in for Romney, but the largest thing outstanding right now is the Cleveland area….” Nerd 2 chimes in: “There just aren’t enough Republican votes left… Cleveland is so overwhelmingly Democrat… as the vote comes in we would expect the president’s margin to rise.”
But what about Karl Rove?! “Explain his theory and why you disagree with it.” Nerd 2 explains, “It’s not that I disagree with it.” But the handful of Republican precincts can’t overwhelm the Democratic votes still to come.
But but but! What about the exit polls? “Could this be an exit poll thing?” Kelly asks. The exit polls were so wrong in 2004…. “What we’re looking at is actual raw vote… What we’re seeing is sufficient vote in Ohio on the Democratic side to say that Ohio will go for Obama.” Megyn asks, And you’re certain? “99.95 percent.”
“They seem very confident,” Kelly says, not entirely confident in the nerds.
HT: Seth Jolly.
2 years ago
Yesterday morning, Andrew Sullivan wrote a lengthy blog post about President Obama’s “You didn’t build that” line. I thought we were done with this nonsense a full week ago, but apparently we’re not nearly there yet.
I say this not because of Sullivan’s post — or at least mostly not because of it — but because Matt Lewis, over the Daily Caller, exults that one of Obama’s biggest supporters is now blasting him for claiming that people aren’t hard-working and don’t make their own way in this country.
Amazingly, Lewis ignores the context of Sullivan’s post entirely, quoting Sullivan’s complaint while ignoring — for example — this sentence (which is the opening sentence of the post): “I know full well that the full context of the ‘You didn’t build that’ quote largely exonerates Barack Obama from the absurd charge that he somehow dislikes or loathes individual achievement, entrepreneurship, and business.” Or this sentence: “I don’t find the argument that offensive. It’s pretty obviously true.”
Sullivan’s complaint is about the tone of Obama’s comments, which makes it harder to defend him against his critics, not their substance (which, again, he thinks is true). Lewis, though, takes Sullivan’s complaint to be about the substance. Here’s another bit of Sullivan’s post that Lewis didn’t quote — and it’s the crux of Sullivan’s complaint about Obama’s “You didn’t build that” line:
[W]hat was wrong about it, I realize upon reflection, was the tone. It was condescending; it was rhetorically hostile to an imaginary entrepreneur complaining about class warfare. And that rhetorical aggression effectively - and unnecessarily - alienates anyone who has ever built a business or made a success of herself. I doubt Obama would have used those words in a composed speech - the speechwriters and the president himself would have red-flagged the construction.
Now here’s the part that Lewis liked so much that he built an entire blog post around it:
And look: my own view is that, sure, government helps the individual in a market economy. Without a strong government, there is no effective market economy. Unlike some contemporary conservatives, apparently, I have read Adam Smith. I had a government-paid education through college that was among the best in the world. My healthcare as a kid was socialized. The fact that I have managed to make a living through writing was undoubtedly helped, nourished and sustained by public sector investment - not least of which was the Internet itself, made possible by defense spending.
But whatever success I have had is also due to my own efforts. I was the first in my family to go to college and became a classic American immigrant - arriving with a scholarship and now living my own small version of the American Dream. Six other people now have jobs because I spent six years blogging for nothing. Producing the kind of output on the Dish for twelve years is something you have to be devoted to. It takes real elbow grease. I’m ok with paying half my income to various levels of government as the price of having this opportunity, but I’d rather not be told I’m lucky not to pay much more. Or that I somehow owe much of it to someone else I don’t know.
So I have two problems.
Problem #1 is with Matt Lewis who either thinks that Andrew Sullivan is actually blasting Obama for the substance his comments and not his tone or would rather score some more cheap points by not actually getting right what it is that Sullivan is doing (since most of his readers already believe that Obama deserves to be blasted by everyone for being a socialist anyway).
Problem #2 is with Andrew Sullivan, whose feelings were hurt because he’s a hard worker who supports Obama. I’m hopeful he knows that Obama wasn’t actually attempting to denigrate anyone’s accomplishments so much as he was trying to provide some perspective about the positive role that government can play. He surely knows that there’s no way Obama could have made his point — a point which Sullivan believes is true — in a way that would have made his critics happy because, frankly, his critics hate him and cannot be disabused of the notion that he’s a socialist who wants to take away all of the hard-earned money they made by pulling themselves up entirely by their bootstraps while the skeletal hand of the government attempted to pull them down into the fireswamp in which it lives.
Obama could have spoken for an hour about how every American is a beautiful and unique snowflake … and he still would have been hammered for suggesting for even a split second during that hour that those snowflakes benefit in any way from living in a society with other people, from paying taxes, and from massive public projects undertaken by the government.
It would have been better for Obama to have spoken more clearly about what he meant and in a tone that made a hard worker like Sullivan feel better. That’s actually Sullivan’s point, though Lewis (once again) ignores it:
That quote, in other words, is going to be used and used and used to foment a story-line that is as dangerous to Obama as Romney’s massive tax-sheltering is to him. It adds a personal connection to a larger argument, being made on Fox News every other minute, that Obama is an alien to the “Anglo-Saxon” American way of life. And the chief architect of that propaganda campaign is, alas, the president himself and a lapse of self-discipline.
Obama spoke extemporaneously, attempting to better connect with his audience, and he misspoke. He should have said, “You didn’t build that business on your own.” But even if he had chosen his words more carefully, it wouldn’t have mattered. A sizable chunk of people honestly believe that they’ve acheived everything good in their lives entirely on their own and, though they’re wrong, they are being actively discouraged from recognizing that they’re wrong by critics who care only that someone else sit in the Oval Office as soon as possible.
2 years ago
We have two Auroras that take placeevery single day of every single year! … The United States is responsible for over 80 percent of all the gun deaths in the 23 richest countries combined. Considering that the people of those countries, as human beings, are no better or worse than any of us, well, then, why us?
2 years ago
If you don’t want to propagate more mass murders…
Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.
Don’t have photographs of the killer.
Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.
Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.
Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.
Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market.
2 years ago
This is Maddow’s battle with television: to try to bring a different, more objective model of inquiry to a world of political talking points. Later that week, conferring with her staff, Maddow recounts what had actually flickered across her mind in that instant with Castellanos. “I wanted to say, ‘Are you saying I’m cute when I’m angry?’” she recalls. “But I didn’t, because when you’re a woman on television, you can’t even say the word angry.”
That is an insanely good article about her in RS. Click on that underlined stuff and go read it.
2 years ago
Why Right-Wingers (and Media Hacks) Are Totally Wrong About What Americans Believe -- We're Becoming Less, Not More, Conservative
Despite some misguided triumphalism on the Right, America is not getting more conservative. In fact, if you look at lots of public opinion polls, you’ll find that just the opposite is true—Americans’ views on the most pressing issues of the day are actually solidly progressive, with strong support for the social safety net and growing support for once-controversial social issues like marriage equality.
Americans’ views on the most pressing issues of the day are actually solidly progressive, so why do the media keep getting the story wrong?
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“The police in New York don’t realize that it doesn’t matter to not have journalists on the scene,” Damman says, “because everybody is a reporter. What happens last night shows that they don’t get that.”
“Most of the content comes from the people on the ground, from the 99%.”
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