Press Confounded by NH Primary Results

The Mainstream Press ™ is totally up in arms about how they could’ve been so wrong about NH. Dennis Kucinich is calling for a recount. Chris Matthews is consoling himself by talking about Hillary’s weepiness. There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The Guardian UK, in two separate articles, offered two explanations for what might have happened in NH on Tuesday. Just for the record, if you’re reading this far into the future, the polls had Obama at approximately 37% and Clinton at approximately 30% heading into Tuesday’s NH Primaries. Clinton went on to win, with 39% of the vote to Obama’s 37%.

So two explantions are given by the Guardian. The first is that NH voters are just racist, and Obama suffered from the “Bradley effect.” The Bradley effect is named after Tom Bradley, black mayor of Los Angeles, who lost his bid to become California’s Governor in 1982 despite having an overwhelming lead in the polls. The theory behind the loss was that white California residents, not wanting to appear racist, told pollsters that they were planning on voting for Bradley, but then pulled the lever for the white candidate once they were alone in the voting booth. The big conservative paper in NH, the Manchester “Union Leader,” claims the racism accusation is absolutely preposterous. Of course they would claim that. After all, that paper represents the demographic under this cloud of suspicion.

The second explanation is that some independent voters, more or less certain that Obama would win the Democratic primary, decided to vote for McCain since the Republican race between McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was judged to be much tighter. Oops. Remember, NH in 2000 was very kind to Senator McCain. New Hampshire Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike selected him as their Republican candidate for president.

Of course there are plenty more primaries to be held in the next few weeks, and many delegates to be won and lost. However, if it comes to pass that NH is largely responsible for stopping the Obama Express — remember how important momentum is — and helping Hillary Clinton stabilize her footing in the Democratic race for the party’s nomination, we can essentially thank those independent McCain supporters for propping up Hillary. And if she wins the nomination, and even the presidency, how much can we thank those independent NH voters who were either too racist to pull the lever for Obama or who were more interested in helping out an “old friend” than a candidate for change?

The press has been pretty hostile to Hillary over the years, and I’ve gotten my digs in here as well. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post wrote a whole article about how she has been vilified in the press. Even Tom Brokaw, onscreen, chided Chris Matthews the other night about his obvious dislike of Mrs. Clinton.

In this here blog, my main beef with Senator Clinton has been her apparent inability to come up with a direct answer to certain questions, such as “do you regret voting for authorization to use force against Iraq?” However, in the past few days I’ve found myself hoping that she gets the party’s nomination. Am I just a softie who’s been swayed by her recent attempts to really show a personal side of herself? Much was made of Hillary “tearing up” when asked a question in NH at a town hall meeting. In today’s world of five second sound bytes, I heard that full thirty or forty second clip at least six times on the radio at the top and bottom of each hour, and saw it four or five times on television. Some say it was a calculated performance. My take was it was exhaustion, coupled with a real conscious attempt that she was no longer going to put up such a wall between herself and the general public. Most commentators, particularly the right-wing ones, put it squarely in the “calculated” category. Could Hillary’s victory have also been partly due to “Limbaugh backlash?” Remember when Limbaugh lambasted Michael J. Fox over ads he appeared in for candidates who supported stem cell research? He basically said Fox was faking. There was a huge backlash, and some analysts made the case that Democratic candidates won in some areas at least partly in reaction to Limbaugh’s hateful message (just as an aside, I should mention that Fox did not just appear in ads for Democratic candidates). Perhaps people are finally sick of seeing Hillary get smacked down by the press and the talking heads? During the St. Anslem debate, when a local NH political analyst asked Mrs. Clinton about the “likeability factor,” and what she thought of the fact that polls seemed to indicate that Obama was likeable while she was not, Clinton responded, “well, that hurts my feelings.” Her timing in delivering the response was as perfect as any seasoned comedian. The audience howled with laughter and applause, and Mrs. Clinton just sat back in her chair and smiled. It’s a clip I could watch again and again, probably because it’s so completely and unquestioningly genuine, and is not plagued by the possible “calculated or not?” interpretations as the “tearing up” incident. Again, it was another clip that was played over and over again on the news, even here in NY. Did it have an effect of helping the NH voting public get back on board with her?

I personally know people who will never vote for Hillary, no matter how “likeable” she becomes (or *is*). They just “don’t like” Hillary is the response you get when you ask why they would never vote for her.

Why don’t they like her? It’s a good question, and often they don’t know themselves. It’s like the joke Bill Clinton told back in 2004 about the guy who was walking along the Grand Canyon, slipped and fell, and held onto a twig sticking out of the rock that he grabbed on the way down. Suddenly the roots start coming out and the man looks up and asks, “God, why me? I’m a good man, I worked hard, paid taxes all my life, I’m a really good man, why me?” At that moment, a thunderous voice comes out of heaven and says, “Son, there’s just something about you I don’t like…”

Hmmmm. OK. So it’s nothing to do with her record as Senator. They don’t know her record as Senator. There’s just “something about her” they don’t like.

So just as an aside, what about her record?

Looking into Clinton’s and Obama’s actual Senate votes (check them out at Vote Smart), I’m surprised by a couple things. The first is that Obama seems to have a significant number of “No Vote” notations on his record, especially on hotspot issues like National Security, Foreign Policy, Immigration and Defense. The second is how many times Clinton voted against progressive Democrats on issues such as oil leases, pay raises for congress (she voted for them), and a bill which would’ve prohibited the use of cluster bombs in areas near civilian populations. On the other hand, she did vote to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, while Obama voted against it.

It’s important for people to do their own investigations when choosing a candidate, and there are tools like Vote Smart, linked above, to help people do their homework. Part of the reason I mention this is because my father forwarded to me an e-mail I’ve seen several times in the last few days. It’s called (in all caps), “WHO IS BARACK OBAMA,” and I’m surprised it hasn’t been changed to “WHO IS BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA?” yet. It basically brings back all the lies that have been told about Obama to date, only in one place — that he is a Muslim (he’s not), that his is an atheist (he isn’t), that he attended a madrassa (he didn’t), that he was sworn in on the Koran (he wasn’t), that he won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance (he will). The e-mail even says that “these facts have been checked by snopes, and you should check them out yourself!” Snopes covers the letter here, and says that the e-mail even has a link to snopes. The one my dad received did not have the link on it, so at some point someone made it even more difficult for people to check out the validity of the information in this e-mail.

These things are sent to place the seed of doubt, much like the “Al Gore is a liar,” stories, or the infamous so-called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” smears against John Kerry. See, we vote on “feeling” in this country. If any national election was actually decided by voters based upon the issues alone, no Republican would be voted into office for the next 30 years based upon the record of this (p)resident and the Republicans in congress. Instead, their minions work to place seeds of doubt about the Democratic candidate’s character. Again, “I just don’t like Hillary.” Or, “I don’t know about Kerry — didn’t he give his medals back or something? Weren’t some of the soldiers with him on the boat complaining that he didn’t really deserve his medals or something?” Or, “didn’t Al Gore say he invented the internet? What a liar.”

These smears have an impact on those who have not investigated the truth behind these candidates. The Obama letter is a perfect example. Thom Hartman was talking on his show yesterday about how he met someone in the bar at the airport who was talking about how he admired Jimmy Carter because he was the only president in recent times that didn’t make millions off his presidency, and that Reagan had some good ideas but he saddled the country with massive deficits. Next thing he knows, this person is telling him how he “just couldn’t vote for Obama though, because he was Muslim and was sworn in on the Koran.” So otherwise well-informed people are hearing these rumors and believing them.

Perhaps America is not really ready for a black president, or a woman president, if they can believe all these things about someone without bothering to check out the facts? Who knows what smear campaigns are coming down the pike? It’s all about racism, division, religion… Anything that’s “different” is so scary, right? I’ve heard more from the talking heads in the past few days about “NH racism” causing the Obama upset than any other subject. The press really hates to get things wrong. Perhaps they didn’t pay attention that a full 40% of voters were undecided going into the election and perhaps these voters didn’t all vote for Obama. Or perhaps they didn’t remember that this is a McCain-friendly state, and when people saw Obama was projected to run away with the Democratic contest, they decided to vote for McCain, supporting him in his attempt to secure the Republican nomination.

As for McCain, it’s been fun watching the right-wing talking heads trying to out-insult the guy in their attempts at getting Romney the nomination. Guess the Limbaughs and Hannitys and Savages and Levins just don’t realize how out of step they are with America. They don’t like McCain. They don’t like Huckabee. They’ll rip into both of them with reckless abandon. Yipes. God help you if you’re not the favorite of the right-wing talking heads. Rush was all flustered that New Hampshire independents and Democrats could vote toward nominating the Republican candidate if they wanted to.

It’s been that way for a long time, Rush. Look it up.

Mark Levin has been brutally savage on Huckabee, and went into a virtual tirade with guest Robert Bork. I really have to start taping these things because the hypocrisy is just stunning. My favorite part of Levin’s show came just before the interview, when he lambasted some liberal commentator who made some ad hominem attack on Romney.. I forget what it was, but someone had come up with some clever nickname for him. “Real yuckster… Real funny…” he said. Then, in the very next segment, he starts in with the Hillary bashing. Funny that he has this pet name for her — “her thighness.”

What a yuckster. Gotta love the smell of ultimate hypocrisy.

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