As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, April 07, 2008


RedState is planning their latest Hissy Fit, putting up a hit list of journalists "who need to be set straight" about John W. McCain's 100 years in Iraq comment.

It's amusing that wingnuts think that the media needs to correct the record, since they've been bending over backward to do so already. But the corollary to this is that it doesn't much matter what McCain's media constituency says about this. He's already stepped in it with this comment and no amount of backpedaling is going to change the fundamentals. This fascinating Gallup poll shows that the reasons people name for disliking Obama or Clinton are largely personal, about experience or trustworthiness, but the reasons people name for disliking McCain are all policy-based:

McCain has pretty well been defined as a warmonger who has similar views as Bush and other Republicans, his protestations and the plaintive wails of the media to the contrary. And the fact that hardcore conservatives are rallying to his cause only reinforces this impression.

I know we're all supposed to be scared that the media will knife our candidates and protect Teflon John, and that's certainly a concern, but progressive media and advocacy groups have actually done a pretty darn good job of defining Republican candidates this year, including McCain. Traditional media was parroting progressive frames on Romney, Thompson and Giuliani throughout the campaign, and even Joe frickin' Scarborough has characterized McCain as wanting "less jobs and more wars." Let's not forget that we have attained a certain amount of power to drive narratives in this Presidential campaign our own selves, and when the media reverts to focusing on irrelevant minutiae, we'll be there to hammer them.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

"Yoo and torture" - 102
"Mukasey and 9/11" -- 73
"Yoo and Fourth Amendment" -- 16
"Obama and bowling" -- 1,043
"Obama and Wright" -- More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)
"Obama and patriotism" - 1,607
"Clinton and Lewinsky" -- 1,079

And as Eric Boehlert documents, even Iraq -- that little five-year U.S. occupation with no end in sight -- has been virtually written out of the media narrative in favor of mindless, stupid, vapid chatter of the type referenced above. "The Clintons are Rich!!!!" will undoubtedly soon be at the top of this heap within a matter of a day or two.

This is of course disgusting and deeply frustrating. But I'm kind of tired of fretting about how the traditional media, who has been pretty largely discredited by a significant segment of the population, will tip the scales of the election. This is not to say that they won't try, but I think their effectiveness has lessened in a more fragmented media landscape, where people get information from so many other sources. Clearly McSame has a MAJOR problem with his history on Iraq that is not likely to be explained away. Maybe anti-McCain groups are having trouble with their fundraising, but people are failing to understand that he's already been defined, and any further developments on the campaign trail will fit into all the pre-made narratives as a result of the work that's already been done on him. The fact that McCain is having his own fundraising problems, particularly from the grassroots, where he raised a paltry $4 million the month after being handed the Republican nomination, is much more telling.

I think it's hilarious that the right is somehow claiming media bias against McCain; it's just not at all credible. And as to the notion that his showing in polls today presages the future, that's nuts. McCain is at his HIGHEST POSSIBLE POINT in my view, as the presumptive nominee running the general election without opposition while the Democrats continue their extended primary battle. While he flits around at his old high school and his flyboy barracks, Democrats are organizing new voters and mobilizing on the ground. And as a woman at McCain's disastrous appearance at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis said, "He's a war guy, we're for peace."

I'm not worried. Bring it on.

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