Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Does the Media View, Determine, Report?

Maybe it would be more interesting to blob about how the news media is viewing this election. Or maybe it would be as boring as most of the conversations after ten minutes—except for Chris Matthews who, although you may not like him, is hardly boring.

Before my pal Laura Slutsky goes on a date she asks the guy three questions:

1. Do you have long term health care?

2. Do you have children or other family that will not be happy about a long term relationship?

3. Do you remember the first two questions I asked you?

Why do I bring this up. First of all it’s funny – although not fall on the floor funny when you have to ask those questions. And second, it reminds me of what I would ask John McCain before I pulled a lever or poked a chad for him. I know he has long term health care or at least a wife who is young enough to take care of him. I know he has a first family, and I wonder what they think about being the “other” children. I assume that he can remember most of the questions that he answers—or he has staff that keep him informed and briefed. But for how long?

Rolling out the Red Carpet in Red Square, 1988
I remember when David called from a Reagan Summit in Russia and was appalled by the fact that Reagan could not remember the questions that were asked prior to answering the next one. One media friend described it this way, “I think he’s really losing it. It was scary.” The remark was made about a joint Russian-American press conference in a large university auditorium setting, with Reagan’s podium perched, suitably and not without irony, in front of a 12’ bust of Lenin.

Reagan could not answer questions coherently. He repeated himself and made no sense. The insider explanation was that he was tired and jet lagged. People will go to great lengths to keep their jobs. But still not a comforting excuse when the President of the US is supposed to know what he’s doing in order to negotiate important international agreements and treaties –OK that’s all done before hand. But the great communicator couldn’t communicate a reasoned thought. It was frightening and surely (dare I say this), a consequence of old age. The Reagan adoring press, including George Will, loved it, calling it “..vintage Reagan.”

John McCain is 72 years old. He is, by all reports at the very least, cranky and volatile -- when he’s not on the campaign ‘trail’ , path, alley, whatever. Although, another press friend said he did lose it when a young reporter asked him a question he decided was out of line and then realizing his mistake, apologized. These are things the public doesn’t know. And why not? These are issues of character, stability, and the ability to think rationally. Surely, among all the other things, we take into consideration age is one.

Last night, in his victory speech McCain said again, ‘I stand on my record—and my support of the war.’ I think it’s a shaky pedestal on which to put oneself, since if this election cycle has demonstrated nothing else, it certainly has proved that young people will get involved and probably vote. And who will they vote for? My guess is that even young Republicans have questions about McCain being a real Republican (rather than a maverick Republican) and I can’t imagine that too many of them are standing in line to fight a war no one wants to fight and almost no one thinks makes any sense. This stubborn determination to legitimize the reason his son went to Iraq, and to fail to admit that it was a bad decision, is also a consequence of age combined with hubris.

Speaking of hubris—it’s certainly one way to explain the Clinton decision not to have organizations in all of the primary states. And by all reports they still think they were right and they are in the well paved road to win. What else are they going to say? I guess they are hoping that Obama will do something so terrible and the Party will turn back to them. I also believe that when you don’t trust many people it is hard to widen the circle and delegate—which accounts for why the organization, what there is of it, is so small.

It will be fascinating to see what’s next for the Clinton campaign. It may be too late for them to make real change—not in the country, but in the campaign. We’re just sayin... Iris


Anonymous said...

"It will be fascinating to see what’s next for the Clinton campaign."

When is Chelsea running for office?


We missed you all in Philly last night. The press club spared no dimes in making me welcome, even thought the chef was sick. At least I didn't forget the last question!


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