Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bets

It does not take a tremendous amount of foresight, or cynicism, to predict the rollout of the GOP's Pledge to America, slated for later today, will be a gassy disaster for the Party of the Rich. Let us count the reasons why:

It is old--since something like it worked so well the last time. Well, times have changed.

There is no need--a gimmick in search of a cause. Either they are going to retake the House or they are not. It smacks of a certain inner lack of confidence.

The devil is in the details--I have a hard time believing that after running from any stands regarding budget cuts for two years they will unveil a document which takes any firm positions on how they'll reduce the deficit. Hard details will draw all kinds of fire and more of the hazy same, in writing, can only attract some overdue criticism from sources so far inclined to let them slide.

They are a fractured bunch--and the document is certain to reflect policies designed to please everyone in such general language so as to make any needed clarification in the coming days dangerous.

Social issues are killing them--I think stiff-arming DADT one last time was a stealth disaster for any party that claims to carry "freedom" into the future. Any defense of marriage nonsense, or just say no platforms, in writing, six weeks before election day, will only alienate centrists and energize so-far apathetic lefties.

They are not very bright--It cannot be emphasized enough how much influence apparently very dumb (or narrow-minded, aggressive, and stubborn--which amounts to the same) men have in shaping the message and direction over there. There is bound to be something included somewhere in the document which, once unveiled, will make nearly everyone weep, in sorrow or with joy.

In sum: call me crazy, but I do believe the Red Team has more to lose than gain with something like this; a bid to show they are in control of their destiny when it is pretty clear they are not.

UPDATE: While I was writing the above, Ez Klein--a brighter, more knowledgeable lad than yr. obdt. hmbl. svt.--was writing this.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stale, Mate

To say current events resist interpretation is a tad lazy. While nuts, the scene is all too clear. I submit that facts on the ground are not only stubborn, but boring things, and that all of the noise about the coming midterms--which will see an adjustment to the Democrats' majorities but nothing like the realignment so breathlessly invoked--is pumped out by a relatively new politico-infotainment industry which sucks-in players from the most craven and soulless NRO huckster to the sincerest Kossac out there.

I meant to point you to the level-headed Al Giordano's take on the midterms weeks ago. Still holds.

While our political process has not been hijacked, the vast industry around it has been. But even that is putting it too baldly, because that money circus has been raging for generations. What has, I submit, changed is that the associated industry, ever a self-important endeavor, has become in our self-reflecting age more important to itself than following the needs of what used to be called the polis.

Put another way, the will, and movement, of the people has gradually become secondary, maybe tertiary, to the fierce desires of the commentariot.

Years ago, a good case could be made that polling and advertising could broadly find, and slightly direct, the public instinct in an election year. I'm not so sure that holds in our fractured and rather-more-cynical republic anymore. This whole season we've had to endure the scrim of national concerns held against a very broad base of local elections, where local issues and personalities will surely prevail.

Holding up that scrim is a hypertrophic news media/public relations apparatus that's become ever more ineffective the larger it gets, and is now desperate to run after events it once was able to form.

I do believe this will be a watershed election, not only for the fortunes of the rotted GOP, rent to pieces this past year (though no one wants to say so yet), but for a very expensive constellation of media doctors, actors, and salesmen who will need to figure out what went wrong with all their fundamental assumptions about their own importance.

To illustrate in miniature: while much has been made this past week about Forbes magazine's dumb, and unprecedented, cover assault on the president, none of those taking the magazine to task have mentioned its dire financial straights (and the desperate measures which that might encourage), and how it will be a miracle if it is still a going concern in January, 2013, when President Obama takes his second oath of office.

UPDATE: Like I was saying; from E J Dionne, 9/23/10

But something is haywire in our media and our politics. Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian whose new book is "The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle Over American History," observed in an interview that there is a "hall of mirrors" effect created by the rise of "niche" opinion media. They magnify small movements into powerhouses, while old-fashioned journalism, which is supposed to put such movements in perspective, reacts to the same niche incentives.