politics

The news story of our time: Partisanship for sake of partisanship

This Slate story starts with Common Core, but it’s not really about Common Core (which has a lot of “left-wing” critics as well, mostly because the math in it is some of the dumbest tripe ever cooked up in academia). It goes on to show how many policies were once embraced by the Republicans but then derided when Obama liked them, too.

From Obamacare to basic gun regulations, I’m not sure how many Obama policies you can find that didn’t once have widespread Republican support but are now “OMG! SOCIALISM!”

And the media frankly can’t do enough to point this out. Then they can go into other issues that have limited Obama’s ability to be an effective president — including Obama himself.

Conservative tribalism: Conservatives hate anything Barack Obama and liberals like..

journalism, politics

Is balance no longer fair?

This Washington Post essay asserting that the Republicans have basically withdrawn from mainstream thought is going to get a bit of attention, to say the least. The pertinent comment for journalists:

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.

And then this:

We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?

So are journalists now in an impossible situation in which a “balanced” view plays right into extremists’ hands, while calling out extremism will surely open the floodgates to bias accusations?

(via Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. – The Washington Post.)

Something else in the Post Outlook section, “Five Myths About Conservative Voters,” raises other questions. If conservative voters don’t think the way the media think they think, then are the media misrepresenting their desires? And are journalists wrong in thinking that what we heard in the GOP primaries reflects what GOP rank-and-file voters really want?

cynicism, politics

Agenda item #1: Annoy the other party

“The profound man … does not set his mind either for or against anything. What is right, he will follow.” – Confucius

Unfortunately, profound men and women have little chance of getting elected to the White House, thanks to our primary system that makes candidates appeal to their party’s most obnoxious factions before slaloming back to the center to pick up the independents in the middle.

The funny thing is that, if you look at every poll on party identification, independents are growing and growing. But the hyperpartisans are so well-entrenched that the primaries — at least the GOP primaries, since the Democrats won’t have a race in 2012 — are going to be full of candidates pandering to the most hateful elements.

Andrew Sullivan already came up with the best headline for this piece (The Ability To Win Has A Liberal Bias) and pulled out the money quote:

The underlying theory behind the talk radio critique of Daniels is basically that you can’t trust a man who disarms liberals with his seeming reasonability, and what you need instead is somebody who takes the fight to the left at every opportunity. This is an excellent description of the qualities required … to be a good talk radio host. But when applied to the presidential scene, it amounts to a kind of politics of schadenfreude, in which actual conservative accomplishments count for nothing, the ability to woo undecided voters is downgraded or dismissed, and all that matters is how much a prospective candidate irritates liberals.

But the rest of the original is a good read:

Mitch Daniels and the Talk Radio Right – NYTimes.com.

To an extent, you could say the left does this sort of thing as well. But if the Democrats were searching solely for candidates who annoy the right, Barney Frank would’ve been a big-time contender. Instead, the Democrats nominate people who deviate from the party line. And the “talk radio right” finds a reason to hate them anyway.