The Big Reveal

by matttbastard

LA Times TV critic Mary McNamara on the lazy Hollywood sensationalism that has been peddled as ‘journalism’ during this year’s presidential campaign:

SO MUCH has been said about the media’s handling of this campaign that it’s almost embarrassing to address the topic. But after watching hours, days, weeks of it on television, the cry of anguish cannot be suppressed: For the love of all that is holy, how did one of the most important presidential races in history, between two men who embody such disparate political possibilities, wind up looking like a montage sequence in a Will Ferrell movie?

“Bias” has been the watchword, but watching the nightly news loops, it seems less like bias than just plain old fear. Fear of missing the moment, of boring the viewers, of relying on the old-model thinking — who, what, when, why, where — while everyone yawns and returns their collective attention to their new iPhones.

“No, no, wait,” news outlets seem to shout like desperate screenwriters in a rapidly deteriorating pitch meeting. Nevermind those boring old proposed policies or the contradictory voting records or any of that stuff, look at this, you’re going to love it, it’s The Big Reveal.

McCain stutters and stumbles — is he experiencing age-related dementia? John Edwards flames out in scandal and Obama faces reporters in Hawaii wearing a polo shirt — has he grown too smug? Which is more significant — McCain’s negative, truth-twisting ads or Obama’s seemingly snooty refusal to address them?

For screenwriters, it’s the oldest trick in the book — the moment when the nice guy reveals his hideous temper or latent bigotry, when the silent distant hero gives way to a geyser of emotion. In one second, everything is made clear, events and intentions fall neatly into place and the viewer experiences the catharsis of discovered truth.

For journalists, it’s a bit trickier, since real villains rarely monologue and revelation usually requires time, patience and many lawyers.

But that doesn’t keep us from wishin’ and hopin’.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

h/t dday

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Advertisements

Wanker of the Year: John Edwards

by matttbastard

You stupid, selfish fuck:

STATEMENT OF SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS [via North American Patriot]

August 8, 2008

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness. Although I was honest in every painful detail with my family, I did not tell the public. When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99% honest is no longer enough.

I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices, and I had hoped that it would never become public. With my family, I took responsibility for my actions in 2006 and today I take full responsibility publicly. But that misconduct took place for a short period in 2006. It ended then. I am and have been willing to take any test necessary to establish the fact that I am not the father of any baby, and I am truly hopeful that a test will be done so this fact can be definitively established. I only know that the apparent father has said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby.

It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, as it is inadequate to say to the people who love me that I am sorry. In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up – feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help.

I have given a complete interview on this matter and having done so, will have nothing more to say.

Ok, I’m with Amanda Marcotte –I still say this kind of salacious panty-sniffing distraction ain’t news. But, goddamn, skippy’s right–what kind of asshole fucks around on a cancer-stricken spouse (terminal cancer)? And what the fuck if John-boy had managed to secure the Democratic nomination?

More reactions from around the ‘sphere:

Pam Spaulding:

These matters are none of our business anyway; he’s no longer running for office, and who knows what goes on in a marriage. It just looks bad from a judgment perspective, since he had issued denials and brushed off the stories as reporters got closer to the truth. The main curiosity for me is the insanity of carrying on like that, given the high level of personal scrutiny by today’s MSM (and tabloids) that could blow up in your face politically. Think about it what if he were the nominee? Why would any pol put it all at risk to get laid (shades of Gary Hart)? I find it fascinating and disturbing. Are the gonads that in control of these folks? I know, I know.

Chet Scoville:

Let’s not mince words: John Edwards is a reckless idiot. If he had actually become the presumptive Democratic nominee or been chosen as running mate, the party would now be in total chaos. They’d have to dump him and throw things open at the convention, and the eventual ticket would surely go down in flames in November anyway. Who knows, it might still have an effect on the polls, despite the fact that he’s not the nominee.

Michael Crowley:

The one mitigating factor here is Elizabeth. By Edwards’ account, his wife knew about the affair back in 2006. Her adamant support for his candidacy suggests that she forgave him. If so, should he still be ostracized from politics permanently?

I think we need to know more, but that’s some initial food for thought.

Adam Serwer:

Personally, I don’t care what politicians marriages are like, but I really think that it’s a mistake for conservatives to make marriage fidelity an issue when their standard-bearer has his own share of problems in that arena. Edwards is not his party’s nominee.

Still, remember when he was arguing that he was “the most electable?” His run this year has to go down as one of the more incredibly stupid decisions in recent political history.

John Cole:

Maybe I have a double standard- when most people cheat, I think “What a jackass” and I feel bad for their spouse. When Republicans who spew their family values bullshit and sanctity of marriage crap, I go to town. This just seemed like a case of the former to me, but having said that, it is pretty clear that Edwards lied to the media, and from what I can tell, appears to still be lying or spinning or whatever you want to call it, so I guess that does raise the bar.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

On John Edwards ‘Love Child’

by matttbastard

“Double standard!” cries Slate media critic Jack Shafer.  “An elaborate cover up!” whines hacktacular OG ‘even the liberal’ blogger Mickey Kaus.  ‘Liberal bias!’ wails the wingnutosphere (surprise, surprise).

All that self-righteous sturm und drang simply because the MSM hasn’t dove on recent reports from that bastion of responsible journalism, The National Enquirer, alleging that former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, with a woman named Reille Hunter.

Oooh.  Shocking.  A liberal Democrat with no moral values–way to conform to years of movement conservative propaganda, John Boy.

Sorry, kiddies; as John Cole aptly notes, the Grand Old Party has upped the ante on sex scandals to the point where a mere (yes, heterosexual) extramarital affair (and illegitimate child) is now small beer, not worthy of the print expenditure:

The reason no one is paying attention to the alleged affair and love-child is simple. You guys have made standard affairs boring (I know, I know. You claim to be a Democrat.). No one is claiming Edwards was seen in two wetsuits hanging from the ceiling with a dildo lodged in his rectum. There is no DC madam with a black book involved. No one has transcripts of him instant messaging teen-age congressional pages or crashing their dorms in a drunken stupor. There is no arrest record for soliciting oral sex in an airport bathroom, complete with feisty confrontations with the arresting officer on video tape. There is no religious hypocrisy and gay prostitution and meth-fueled sodomy binge to talk about.

In short, aside from the fact that all there is to the story is an Enquirer report, it is just boring. You all have made standard affairs pedestrian and dull. Even when you use the phrase “love child,” what it boils down to is a guy allegedly sleeping with a woman. Pretty tame stuff, given what the GOP has provided us for the past few years.

Now maybe if he got caught engaging in oral sex with goats. That would probably get some attention.

I think there’s something to be said about the innate homophobia contained within media coverage of the aforementioned events. But the hook that made them ‘newsworthy’ by mainstream press standards is the fact that, in most instances, the principals were all on record as being militantly homophobic Christian conservatives; their moral (and, in many cases, legal) transgressions were thus in direct opposition to their images and records as public officials.  Even former NY governor Elliot Spitzer was a grandstanding anti-prostitution crusader, so when he was caught in the middle of a prostitution ring, the immensity of the hypocrisy was too much for the jackals in the MSM to ignore (even as the puritanical response once again served as a revealing Rorschach Test of the collective American unconscious).

So, unless there’s more blood to this latest (alleged) ‘scandal’, one shouldn’t be surprised (nor shocked and outraged!!11one) at the underwhelmed non-response from the press.

Of course, as David Corn notes, even if this story never makes the 24 hour cable news cycle, the allegations have effectively removed Edwards from VP consideration:

[W]hether you read about this matter in the Times or not, the veep-vetters of the Obama campaign have probably paid the story notice. If Edwards is still in contention, he better have for them a rather convincing denial to allay suspicions that this time the scandalmongers of the Enquirer might have actually gotten it right.

Regardless, one wonders if the McCain campaign really wants the media to be talking about political figures running around behind the backs of their sick wives.

Ahem.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

A Novel Concept: Make Them Work For Our Votes

by matttbastard

Must-read post from KathyG on how to make Barack Obama–and politicians in general–better:

Over this past election season, on websites and listservs and in conversations, I’ve seen an awful lot of cheap, hacktacular electioneering in favor of one candidate or another. But at the end of the day, I don’t think there was ever all that much of a difference between Hillary and Barack. Or between those two and Edwards, for that manner. Hillary and Barack had voting records and positions on the issues that were closet to identical. They’ve both taken shitloads of money from Wall Street, and it’s pretty clear to me that each of them is captive to corporate special interests. Indeed, I interpret Obama’s recent rightward shift — Furman, Messina, the remarks about NAFTA, the FISA compromise — as saying to the corporate interests, “Never fear — we’ll be playing ball as usual with you folks.”

As president, either Barack or Hillary, or Edwards, would be infinitely better than any Republican, but from a progressive point of view, each of them would also far short in some pretty profound and powerful ways.

But you know what? Ultimately, I don’t think that they as individuals are to blame for that. I don’t think Barack, or Hillary, or Edwards, are bad people. I don’t think that Barack Obama, for example, went into politics so he could sell civil liberties down the river in favor of giveaways for the telecom industry. But the incentive structure in politics these days is such that he decided he had more to gain by supporting the FISA “compromise” than by opposing it.

This is where we, as liberals, progressives, lefties, activists, whatever-you-want-to-call-us, come in. I do not believe that our interests are best served by the kind of cheap electioneering we saw over the primary campaign. What would be far more effective would be an independent movement that makes strategic alliances with various political candidates but is also distinctly separate from them.

Instead of shilling for Barack, or Hillary, or whoever, we should have been pressuring the candidates to work for our votes. We should have been pressing them to take firm, non-negotiable positions in favor of things like no immunity for the telecoms, or immediate withdrawal from Iraq with no residual troops. Instead, we were really cheap dates. And when you act like suckers, don’t be surprised when something like Obama’s support for the FISA compromise comes back and bites you in the ass.

If we want real change in this country, the place to look for it is not in our so-called leaders, but in ourselves. What we need, in short, is a movement. Without such a movement, President Obama is not going to be able to achieve a whole lot more than President Clinton or President Carter did. But with such a movement, we may actually get somewhere. FDR was able to achieve great things because he had the strong support of a powerful labor movement. Similarly, the civil rights movement was the wind at LBJ’s back. But I ask you, what will President Obama have?

Huh.  An independent movement pressuring candidates to “work for our votes”.   Kinda sounds like the pre-Netroots blogosphere, until Chairman Kos decreed that it was now the sworn duty of DFHs to make sure Democrats (even the dreaded DINOs) get elected, regardless of how progressive they may (or may not) actually be.

You sucker MC, you just ain’t right.

PS-read the whole damn thing.

h/t Hysperia

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

John Edwards Drops Out

by matttbastard

edwards.jpg

(Originally uploaded by by John Edwards 2008)

Earlier today, Jonathan Cohn posted a moving eulogy for the Edwards campaign over at The Plank (while New Democrat dipshit Ed Kilgore subsequently took the opportunity to dance a merry jig on populism’s grave), but it was Aunt B. who highlighted the most ominous consequence of Edwards’ departure:

[W]hite Democratic men will be in the unprecedented position, for the first time in American history, of choosing between their race and their gender!

Hey, at least Hulk Hogan is comfortable stepping outside his comfort zone (h/t Jason Zengerle):

Whatcha gonna do, Kilgore?

Updated 01.31: via the unfortunately despondent skdadl-with-one-‘sk’ (*hugs*), John Edwards’ concession speech, fittingly given at the same place he kicked off his campaign: the 9th ward of the Big Easy.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Nevada Fall Out UPDATE: Obama Did NOT Win Delegates…Or Did He?

by matttbastard

2200534243_853dd88d7b.jpg

Originally uploaded by Barack Obama

According to The Nation, despite getting thumped in today’s Nevada caucuses, the Obama camp claims that Obama still wins 13 national delegates to Clinton’s 12.

The press release:

Senator Obama was awarded 13 delegates to Senator Clinton’s 12. As Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson said, “This is a race for delegates…It is not a battle for individual states. As David knows, we are well past the time when any state will have a disproportionate influence on the nominating process.” [Washington Post, 1/16/08]

Chris Cillizza explains:

While the process of delegate apportionment is extremely complicated, it boils down to this: in the places that Clinton won, there were an even number of delegates that were split between she and Obama. In the places Obama won, there were an odd number of delegates, meaning that he often took two delegates to one for Clinton.

Cillizza also just reported that AP and NBC have both changed their delegate count to reflect the Obama camp’s claim, so apparently this is official [edit: I spoke too soon–see update below…and again.  Jesus.]

Of course, as John Nichols’ number crunching shows, Obama’s attempt at spinning the delegate count into a postive is the epitome of “Pyrrhic victory”. Other than African Americans (expect Obama to push that 80% hard going into AA-heavy South Carolina), Clinton dominated nearly every demographic, even left-leaning caucus-goers. But it was women and older caucus-goers–both of which turned out in droves–where junior Senator from New York drew the majority of her support:

According to entry polls, 59 percent of caucus participants were women. Clinton was winning them by a 52-35 margin over Obama.Clinton also benefitted from a generational divide that favored her candidacy. Among voters over 60, she beat Obama 61-28. Among voters under 30, Obama won 57-30. But older voters turned out in far higher numbers: 36 percent of voters were over 60, while just 13 percent were under 30.

White voters, who made up two-thirds of the caucus turnout, favored Clinton 52-31. Obama swept the African-American vote 79-16. But what was really striking was the level of Latino support for Clinton. With New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson out of the race, the Latino vote was very much up for grabs, and the New York senator scored a 64-24 sweep.

Clinton, who lost the Culinary Workers but retained support among unions representing teachers and public employees, narrowly prevailed among union households, by a 43-42 margin.

Clinton also did well among self-described “liberals,” a success that could surprise casual observers of the contest.

Caucus participants who said they were “very liberal” made up 18 percent of the electorate and they favored Clinton 51-35. Participants who said they were “somewhat liberal” made up 29 percent of the electorate and favored Clinton 46-35.

It was much closer among the 10 percent of caucus goers who said they were “somewhat conservative.” This group gave Clinton 46 percent, while Obama took 41 percent.

Ouch. Maybe the independent/Republican-courting “fluff Reagan/demonize Clinton” strategy wasn’t the best one for Obama to employ during a Democratic Party caucus.

Oh, and despite barely managing to get 4% of the vote, Edwards says he’s in it for the duration:

“Congratulations to Senator Clinton for her win in Nevada. Our campaign is very grateful to all those who demonstrated the loyalty and dedication to stand up for John Edwards in the face of very difficult circumstances and long odds, including our brothers and sisters in Nevada from the Carpenters, Steelworkers, Transport Workers, and Communications Workers of America.

“John Edwards is the underdog in this campaign, facing two $100 million candidates. But that is nothing compared to the real underdogs in our country – working men and women, middle class families, and all those who have no voice in Washington.

“John Edwards is in this race to fight for the real underdogs and to make sure the voices of the American people are heard in Washington, not the special interests. That’s why he’s the only candidate in this race who has never taken a dime from PACs or Washington lobbyists; the only candidate who will ban corporate lobbyists from his White House; and the only candidate who is honest enough to say we are in a fight for our country and we need to take on the special interests if we are going to have a country that works for hard-working families and the middle class.

“The race to the nomination is a marathon and not a sprint, and we’re committed to making sure the voices of all the voters in the remaining 47 states are heard. The nomination won’t be decided by win-loss records, but by delegates, and we’re ready to fight for every delegate. Saving the middle class is going to be an epic battle, and that’s a fight John Edwards is ready for.”

Epic? More like quixotic. And this is coming from a Gravel supporter–trust me, we know from chasing windmills.

More from Steve Benen, Kyle and the expected assload of commentators over @ Memeorandum.

Update: Via DDay, don’t believe the Obamabot hype:

OK, I just spoke with Jill Derby, the head of the Nevada State Democratic Party. Regarding the Obama claim that he’ll actually get more delegates out of this, essentially that’s spin. Derby said that the caucuses are an “expression of the support of Nevadans today.” Around 11,000 delegates were elected today. That will be winnowed down at county conventions and eventually at the state convention in May to the 25 that will go to Denver for the DNC. In 2004, Kerry didn’t win every delegate on Election Day, but most of the delegates that eventually went to the DNC were his. Once there’s a presumptive nominee, the delegate numbers are subject to change. It’s non-binding.

Digby updates with the official Nevada Democratic Party statement:

Statement by Nevada Democratic Party Chair Jill Derby Regarding the Nevada Caucus

(Las Vegas, NV) Today, two out of three Nevadans who caucused chose a Democrat instead of a Republican for president. That is an overwhelming majority vote for a new direction. Just like in Iowa what was awarded today were delegates to the County Convention. No national convention delegates were awarded. The calculations of national convention delegates being circulated are based upon an assumption that delegate preferences will remain the same between now and April 2008. We look forward to our county and state conventions where we will choose the delegates for the nominee that Nevadans support.

Jesus. We really are in bat country. Pass the motherfucking ether.

Update 2: Greg Sargent passes along the following muddy clarification from the Nevada Democratic Party.

“No national convention delegates were awarded. That said, if the delegate preferences remain unchanged between now and April 2008, the calculations of national convention delegates being circulated by the Associated Press are correct. We look forward to our county and state conventions where we will choose the delegates for the nominee that Nevadans support.”

Got that? The weasels are closing in.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

John Edwards, Populism, And The Record

by matttbastard

(originally uploaded by John Edwards 2008)

In an interview published this past Thursday, populist US Senator Russ Feingold accused John Edwards of ideological patent infringement:

The one that is the most problematic is (John) Edwards, who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it. Voted for the Iraq war … He uses my voting record exactly as his platform, even though he had the opposite voting record.

When you had the opportunity to vote a certain way in the Senate and you didn’t, and obviously there are times when you make a mistake, the notion that you sort of vote one way when you’re playing the game in Washington and another way when you’re running for president, there’s some of that going on.

As Chris Hayes observes, “Edwards has been pretty forthright about admitting he made bad votes and even, in the case of Iraq, apologizing for them” before going on to note that he’s “never heard any persuasive explanation of why [Edwards] was such a lame senator.” Apologies be damned; I for one find it hard to set aside a 6 year voting record that is the inverse of Edwards’ current policy positions, especially when he’s now asking for the keys to the White House. Whether his Senate decisions were ultimately made based on bad advice, naked ambition, or a fear of alienating his conservative Southern constituency, Edwards can’t expect to be afforded a clean slate simply because he’s now really, really sorry for not acting upon his apparent populist principles when it actually counted.

To be fair to Edwards, the other two (viable) candidates have also shilled a progressive product throughout the campaign that is largely at odds with their respective records in office (and, in the case of Obama, his conservative political philosophy). But Edwards has been the candidate most keen to tether his campaign to populist rhetoric, leaving him more open to charges of hypocrisy. The sudden adoption of a Feingold-esque policy platform smacks of opportunism, a carefully crafted postion calculated to maximize support–which may explain why many leaders in the labour movement have been hesitant to endorse his campaign.

I’m with Jonathan Singer: “when someone with Feingold’s standing…comes out with such blunt and strong language — and backs it up with real tangible facts, in this case in the form of votes on the Senate floor — it’s worth paying heed.”

Update: After Edwards’ ugly third place performance at the Nevada Caucuses today, this issue is largely academic.  The only question is whether he should drop out now, or wait till February 5th.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers