Lady C's InfoNapsterizer

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7.29.2004

Rants on mainstream media -- 1 {DNC Day 3}

Is the media reading from an out-of-date script?

From Nadezhda at Tacitus, in response to posts on convention content.

Day 3 Convention Open Thread

Update [2004-7-28 17:49:47 by Macallan]: This is rather interesting. From NRO's Kerry Spot, apparently the Bush campaign "have measured, in seconds, the total time in seconds the major convention figures have spoken, and then counted how much time was spent attacking Bush, praising Kerry, and "filler" which was neither." The link has breakdowns by speaker, but here is the total:

    Speaking Time 5011.8
    Total attack Time 2324.95
    Total Kerry Time 1162.23
    Total Filler Time 1524.62

So twice as much time has been spent attacking Bush as opposed to being "positive" about the nominee.

Update [2004-7-28 20:57:19 by Harley]: Baseball reference!! Mike Barnicle described the Dems as being a lot like the old school Oakland A's. A lot of internal squabbling, but an overriding desire to win the World Series.


Misunderstanding the Democratic base -- Nadezhda July 28, 2004

IMO the media (and I may add the venerable Mr Barnicle) have got the story out of Boston all wrong. This isn't a bunch of squabbling factions united only by their hatred of George Bush and putting on a unity facade for the duration of the convention while the TV cameras are on.

Kerry doesn't have anybody aside from a handful who are passionate Kerry believers. What he has is a Democratic party that has discovered to its delight that it believes in itself as a party (with a common history and future) that is a profoundly different creature from what they think the Bush and DeLay folks have made of the Republican party. Kerry is their standard bearer, he's one they can be proud of, they've realized they don't have to love him like some of them did Clinton, and they're going to do their utmost to get him elected. Nobody's going to hang back on the sidelines in this one, whether it's throwing all their money at this election or being out on the hustings every day between now and November 2, or being prepared to challenge every vote count in the nation.

This isn't the Democrats in 1992 who hadn't bought into the New Democrat stuff yet, were still the party of Mondale and Dukakis with 200 page platforms, and figured this Bubba with charisma just might get them back into the WH after almost 24 years in the wilderness. There was a lot of hanging back and covering their backsides, and a lot of IOUs Clinton had to deal with in the first 2 years until Gingrich knocked the stuffing out of them, and they had to do it Clinton's way.

This crowd in Boston believe that they have the right approach for America and that Bush et al are going in a profoundly wrong direction. It's not how to exit from Iraq. It's not "giving a veto to the UN." They're embarrassed by the rapid erosion of the US brand. They totally disagree with fiscal priorities and consequences. They think Bush has been a fraud on the "compassionate conservatism" and want to hold him to account. They see health care as a much bigger and more urgent reform that must be tackled before SS. They think Bush has been all talk and no action on homeland security and intelligence reform. And don't underestimate how much John Ashcroft represents what they think is wrong -- incompetent, all politics and no real delivery, fearmongering, misleading or manipulating information, misusing executive power, undermining the appropriate relations between the executive branch and the other two branches, and totally screwed up priorities (like wasting resources on busting people for medical marijuana).

Kerry isn't going to have a lot of IOUs. True, a bunch of the super-progressives and traditional groups have their hopes up, and like always when the rubber hits the road, they're going to be disappointed. But they're not his base. His base is the Dems in the House and Senate, the DLC/NDN, etc., and on a few purely domestic issues, a few big groups like teachers. Otherwise, to govern, he's got to go with things that he can get moderate Republicans to buy into. The idea that he's going to be beholden to an anti-war crowd on Iraq is a total misreading of the past year of Democratic politics.

BTW -- I must respond to the update with the silly "negative" seconds count. How may I ask would you count Ed Rendell's speech on energy independence. On the one hand, it could be rated 90% negative, because it was talking about things that have been ignored or rejected by Bush (or rather Cheney) so it had a non-stop implication that Bush is doing a lousy job on energy policy. On the other hand, it was primarily a discussion of the things that would be promoted in an energy independence policy. But it didn't talk about Kerry constantly. So would that be 90% Kerry, or 40% Kerry, 50% filler, or what? and I don't know what filler is. Was "filler" the description Sharpton gave of the history of blacks with the Republican party from Lincoln to Hoover? Was that negative Bush? I don't guess it was "Kerry."

A convention is politics, regardless of whether the media have decided the Fleet Center is a content-free zone. It is about power and purpose -- stuff people have fought about for millennia. Its goal is to highlight what this party believes in and how that differs from the other party. Its immediate objective is to make the case that their candidate is the right standard bearer and has a team of other elected officials or candidates that's strong and attractive. The most successful communication (whether its at this convention or in NY) weaves positives about the party and candidates with negatives about the other party and candidates, packaged in the right atmospherics.

What this convention has not had, with few exceptions, is personal belittling such as "poor George he was just born with a silver foot in his mouth," or the sloganeering-with-a-sneer of "taxachusetts." It hasn't paraded a litany of twisted statistics or accusations out of context in the manner of classic negative advertising. It has abolished the "L" word (liar) from the entire convention's vocabulary. With few exceptions, the worst accusation has been "mislead." And in fact that's what the vast majority of Democrats believe the WH did in the run-up to the war, as well as in its aftermath. The worst accusation on the "compassionate conservatism" front was that it was "fools gold." Again, something the Democrats sincerely believe is an accurate assessment of the Bush Admin's performance.

I'll stop before I get really wound up. Just the stupidest thing I've ever heard. The media will eat it up, and they will be even more stupid and lazy for doing that than they have been so far for having the only stories to date be "shove it," the NASA picture, bloggers, and the DNC editing the red meat out of speeches. Jeez Louise!

For the first time in living memory, the speeches at a Democratic convention are really talking about important stuff that matter to us all, and that are why you and I read and write on this blog. Principles. Major structural changes that could affect US employers and employees profoundly. What's the model of an international political economy that we are going to try to create/maintain. What are the real threats to the US, and how best to meet them. What "unity" means. Why minorities should be interested in one or another party. Why Americans should care about this election for a reason other than that one group of politicians wants to beat another group of politicians, or one group of donors wants to get their guys into power.

But the smug reporters don't catch any of that. They've already got the script written. All they have to do is pick up the texts of the prepared speeches. And they don't read them for ideas. They read them for "how will this play in Peoria." They read them for campaign technique, for "on message" or "off message," for "negative Bush," for "will this be good enough to sell Kerry."

I have a suggestion. Today (Thursday) don't watch any of the networks, watch the proceedings only in the evening, and then watch from about 7:30PM to its finish on CSPAN with no commentary. Before you watch it, read the blogs coming out of the convention to get a range of tone and topics. Don't read the text of the speeches until you've watched them. And while you watch, split your brain in half -- one half critiquing it as a "performance," and the other trying to get a feel for what's going on there. I think you'd find it interesting and, at the very least, you'd know your enemy better.


Misunderestimating? -- Macallan -- July 28, 2004

I appreciate the thoughtful and exhaustive response, but I will have to disagree that I am misreading the situation. I believe the flaw in your rebuttal is "The idea that he's going to be beholden to an anti-war crowd on Iraq is a total misreading of the past year of Democratic politics." There is no small difference between saying that his base isn't primarily obsessed on a specific issue, than saying he'll owe an IOU to one interest group.

I was also sincere when I said the party is only united in context. If Kerry were to win, that context is then removed and things will splinter. Unlike Clinton who could play off the Gingrich Congress, there's no sharing of responsibility as commander in chief like there is with domestic policy and spending. There will be no context to unify. Given how many times Kerry has stridently shifted his own views in response to the prevailing winds of the base, it will be difficult to see how he'll operate effectively off a splintered minority base, the mushy middle, and a rather annoyed opposition. Not to mention the fact that he'll have to come to grips with the reason so many of our "allies" our jerking us around has absolutely nothing to do with George W. Bush and everything to do with what they want counter to our interests.

As to misreading the past year of Democratic politics, I suppose that is a matter of opinion, but I'm comfortable that I haven't. The nearly complete lack of internal consistency of the last year alone should give anyone serious pause -- that Bush is simultaneously a fascist mastermind turning librarians into Gestapo agents, but a bumbling fool who isn't doing enough to protect us, and so forth. It's the politics of opposition, without any clear vision beyond "we won't do it that way".

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