Patterico's Pontifications

10/30/2011

The obligatory Cain “inappropriate conduct” thread (Updated x8)

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 9:38 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Well, that’s a title I did not see coming:

Herman Cain’s campaign headquarters has released a response to a story, broken this evening on Politico, that in the 1990s two female employees of the National Restaurant Association “complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain,” who at the time was head of the trade group.

Calling the story “thinly sourced allegations,” Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon said: “Since Washington establishment critics haven’t had much luck in attacking Mr. Cain’s ideas to fix a bad economy and create jobs, they are trying to attack him in any way they can.”  Gordon did not address any of the specific allegations in the report.  Asked for a more specific answer, the campaign did not provide details.

Gordon was similarly evasive calling into the Jerry Rivers show Sunday night.  As Guy Benson notes, these are anonymous, amorphous, years-old accusations.  On the other hand, Politico claims to have seen documentation describing the allegations and showing that the restaurant association formally resolved the matter.  Moreover, Camp Cain apparently declined to respond to Politico about the allegations for 10 days, which makes the initial, non-specific response here less excusable.

One question that immediately occurs is how Politico came upon this story.  The site’s Roger Simon suggested on Twitter it may have been original research (although he’s not in the byline for the story).  A lot of speculation will be this was Team Perry sticking a fork in Cain’s eyeball.  Team Romney might be a less likely suspect, given concern the story might ultimately benefit Perry — but maybe the Romney camp thinks Perry is too damaged to benefit.  In that scenario, Romney could win the Iowa caucus and wrap up the nomination quick.

Redstate’s Erick Erickson is pro-Perry (which may be why he downplays the sourcing question), but has a pretty balanced take on the immediate fallout:

First, a great many liberals who defended Bill Clinton will come forward to express outrage. Second, a few conservatives who went after Bill Clinton will defend Herman Cain. Third, many people will quietly brace for more to come out.

The Politico did not release names nor a lot of information. If there is a there there, more will trickle out and each trickle will weigh down the Cain campaign, taking it further and further off message.

We have never seen a candidate publicly vetted before like this. The closest comes with the rise of Mike Huckabee in 2008, when we witnessed what seemed like a never ending media attack. It was, in reality, the other campaigns running as quickly as possible to the media to pour out all the dirt they’d rapidly accumulated.

But Mike Huckabee rose only just before Iowa. The media and the campaigns were caught off guard. This time, people don’t want to be caught off guard. They want to make sure Herman Cain cannot become Mike Huckabee for 2012.

However the story plays out, it tends to underscore why Unelected Businessguy tends to have trouble in campaigns.  Such candidates have not received the same vetting as people who have been governors or Senators.  And they tend to be unequipped to go into war room mode when accusations like this appear.   Further, as I noted in the comments to the Perry attack post, I have never understood the “go easy” school of campaigning, because if vetting, attacks and such do not come out during the primaries, it is a fair bet they will come out during the general election, when it’s more difficult to address.

Update: Cain appeared on FNC. Here’s your key quote:

Yes. I have never sexually harassed anyone, let’s say that. Secondly, I’ve never sexually harassed anyone, and yes, I was falsely accused while I was at the National Restaurant Association, and I say falsely, because it turned out, after the investigation, to be baseless.

Note that Cain’s denial confirms the basics of the Politco story.  Also note the Politico story used the term “inappropriate conduct” instead of “sexual harassment.”  The lawyer in me cannot help but note that denial of the latter is not necessarily denial of the former, although the former is certainly less of a scandal than the latter.  How is it playing? FWIW, Larry Sabato was impressed.  Meanwhile, the WaPo asks, “You know who this benefits?”  The WaPo’s Aaron Blake,  given Cain’s apparent lack of knowledge about settlements, adds: “So Cain knew about the allegations but didn’t follow up to see what the outcome was?”

Update 2:  FWIW, Ace writes:

Here’s a big question: “Are we going to hear about other allegations in the future?”

He says, “Absolutely not.” But immediately says: “If more allegations come, people will [sic] simply make them up.”

I say this is a big question because I heard about this stuff a month ago, and I didn’t hear about two incidences. I heard about many more.

I did not have detailed information, certainly nothing publishable. But I heard there was a long and numerous history here.

Ace is not on the Cain Train; then again, this may be a reason he didn’t board.  In this vein, Allahpundit tweets: “Interesting phrasing in Politico’s lede last night: ‘At least’ two female employees…”

Update 3: Via Allahpundit, it may be that a less-than-100K settlement suggests innocence more than guilt, particularly if the NRA was insured (which we don’t know).  I do not specialize in this area, but it is true that insurers would be pretty sensitive to to cost of defending versus settling.

Update 4: Watch Politico’s Jonathan Martin squirm when asked about the specifics of the story.  The other takeway is an emphasis on the difference noted above between “sexual harassment” and “inappropriate conduct.”

Update 5 (A few more and I’ll be in Rick Ellerson territory):  Cain talks to Greta Van Susteren about one allegation, which seems like a non-scandal, but adds this about the settlement(s):

Cain said, “My general counsel said this started out where she and her lawyer were demanding a huge financial settlement…I don’t remember a number…But then he said because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement.”  When van Susteren asked how much money was involved, Cain said.  “Maybe three months’ salary.  I don’t remember.  It might have been two months.  I do remember my general counsel saying we didn’t pay all of the money they demanded.”

As for reports that a second woman also complained about his behavior, Cain said, “I am totally unaware as to any formal charges coming from this other person.”  Cain said he was told the woman’s name by reporters at Politico. “I have no knowledge that she made a formal complaint,” Cain said.

The Examiner’s Philip A Klein asks: “How can Cain go from claiming he was unaware of settlement, to saying it involved 3 months salary, within a matter of hours?”  The answer is that this is amateur hour, emblematic of a candidate who has not taken his campaign very seriously throughout.

Update 6: ProPublica criticizies Politico.

Update 7: The NYT has marginal advancement of the story:

In separate interviews, two people who were affiliated with the restaurant group at the time and knew of the complaints said they knew of the second female employee, who had received a payment related to harassment accusations against Mr. Cain during his 1996-99 tenure as president. The two spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid being pulled into the matter publicly.

The two people who were affiliated with the group said the second woman similarly had complained about what she said had been Mr. Cain’s inappropriate conduct toward her. One of them said she had been taken aback by one interaction in particular while they were traveling, but this person declined to give details. He said he believed the allegation of harassment was not the only issue involved in the woman’s termination package.

As noted in the comments, RCP’s Sean Trende suggests the story is a GOP rival’s oppo dump, adding “The fact it is being dropped in Oct. suggests there is worse to come.”

Update 8: Reax to the Greta interview from NR’s Rich Lowry: “I think Cain seems quite sincere and believable, but he also makes you a little nervous about what he might remember next.”

–Karl

Should Perry attack Romney and Cain?

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 9:37 am

[Posted by Karl]

As GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, who worked for a rival campaign in 2006, memorably put it: “Rick Perry has not won elections in Texas because he is loved.  He has won because he sticks a fork in his opponent’s eyeballs.”

However, PJ Tatler (and HotAir alumnus) Bryan Preston thinks going negative would be a negative for Perry at this point in the campaign:

Rick Perry excels at retail politics and in one-on-ones with local and national media. His past campaigns have also excelled at social media. They have also excelled at attacking past opponents very effectively, but the current opponents, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, aren’t likely to succumb to normal political opposition attacks. Romney’s known knowns are baked in. Everyone knows he’s a flip-flopper, but most Republicans are willing to vote for him against Obama if they have to. Herman Cain is too likeable and he’s made of Teflon right now. Nothing is sticking to him. Attacks on Cain will blow back on whoever launches them.

So I don’t think Perry can effectively attack either one without damaging himself. Bachmann is a good object lesson here. She went so negative so fast that she ended up destroying her own campaign. There’s a very real risk that while Perry won’t say the ridiculous things that Bachmann said to accelerate her downfall, he could nevertheless similarly damage himself in a sustained attack on Romney. Gingrich and Cain have stayed positive, and risen in the polls. But both Gingrich and Cain have questionable staying power.

Bryan might not be wrong about this, but some of his premises are debatable, particularly those about Romney.

First, note that in 2010, Perry beat Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the primary for Texas governor.  Hutchison was both well-known and generally well-liked among Texas Republicans.  Romney begins without the level of support among GOP base voters she enjoyed. (The same is now equally true for Perry, but the point here is that Perry was able to attack a successful, more moderate rival and win.)

Second, are Romney’s negatives baked in?  Perry’s attack on Romney hiring a gardening contractor that employed illegal immigrants (which continued even after the Boston Globe wrote about it) produced the new Kinsleyan gaffe suggesting Romney only cared about the situation because he was running for office.  The episode, small in itself, is a reminder that Romney is more flappable than his press clippings suggest.

Third, for a bigger example, try the latest Kaiser tracking poll.  Most of the news focused on the new low in approval for Obamacare.  Less reported was this nugget:

With Mitt Romney among the top candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, this month’s poll also asked the public about their impressions of the Massachusetts health reform law that passed when Romney was the state’s governor. The survey finds that nearly three quarters of the public, including seven in ten likely Republican presidential primary voters, say they don’t know enough about the Massachusetts law to have either a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of it. (Emphasis added.)

This potentially major negative for Romney is not baked in.  It’s not even half-baked in.  If 70% of likely GOP primary voters don’t know about Romneycare, what else don’t they remember about Romney? 

Political junkies, e.g., people who write for and comment at political blogs, need to be careful not to assume people remember the ins and outs of the 2008 campaign.  The number of people who would definitely not vote for Romney in a general election has dropped significantly since 2007.  The WaPo asserts this is because Republicans have warmed to him, when the real answer may be they have forgotten about him, or never knew much about him.  In the latter case, some aggressively comparative campaigning might erode the primary pillar of the Romney campaign, electability. 

On the other hand, I agree with Bryan that it would be unwise to attack Cain generally, and not just because Cain is likeable.  Rather, the point for Perry (or Cain, for that matter) is to try to become the consensus NotRomney.  Attacking other NotRomneys, especially one as likeable as Cain, does not move toward that goal.  Although Bryan thinks Bachmann hurt herself by going negative early, she also hurt herself by choosing to make Pawlenty and Perry the focus of her most pointed criticisms. 

That said, now that Perry is rolling out his own platform, he will have an opportunity to create a contrast with Cain’s 9-9-9 proposal.  Perry can criticize the plan without criticizing the man.  Perry might be forced to do some of that, if only to prevent Cain from becoming the beneficiary of Perry’s attacks on Romney.

Bryan correctly notes the potential for blowback from going negative (at least with respect to Cain; Romney’s supporters are unlikely to switch to Perry).  On the other hand, hardly any Republicans or leaners like Perry much now, so perhaps Perry has little to lose.  Either way, Bryan is right about Perry needing to go retail and talk radio/online media, as he needs to build positives regardless of whether he goes on the attack.  That assumes Perry can build positives, which is also debatable.  Castellanos may have summed it up in a couple of sentences.

Update: Looks like Slate’s John Dickerson sides with Bryan. (h/t Allahpundit)

–Karl

10/29/2011

Is George Will right about Mitt Romney?

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 9:50 am

[Posted by Karl]

The answers are “yes,” quite a bit of “probably not” and a little bit of “maybe so.”

George Will’s blistering column about Mitt Romney’s candidacy can be split into two parts.  The first part explores a few of Romney’s mryiad flip-flops, straddles and waffles on various issues.  Is Will right about Romney being the “pretzel candidate”? Yes.  Indeed, on this point, Will did not even scratch the salt off the pretzel.

However, it’s the second, shorter conclusion of Will’s column that is getting the buzz in political circles:

Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable; he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate. Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the Tea Party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming.

Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from “data” (although there is precious little to support Romney’s idea that in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants is a powerful magnet for such immigrants) and who believes elections should be about (in Dukakis’s words) “competence,” not “ideology.” But what would President Romney competently do when not pondering ethanol subsidies that he forthrightly says should stop sometime before “forever”? Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?

Although the future is full of possibilities, Will is probably wrong about most of this.  The general consensus among political scientists is that in presidential elections, the dominant factor is the economy, with candidate ideology being a distant second.  Indeed, the studies suggest that a moderate does 1% or 2% better. For those skeptical of academic consensus, note this finding holds for Democrats as well as Republicans.  The general rule seems to be holding up this year, as public opinion polling generally has shown Romney a few points more competitive than NotRomney against Obama throughout the campaign to date.  Of course, state level results are more important than national polling, but if the GOP nominates NotRomney, Team Obama will run the 2010 playbook by which Dems won Senate campaigns in key states by painting all those tea party energies as extremism (I question whether that strategy would be effective, but consider that Dems are likely to have more favorable turnout demographics in a presidential election than in a midterm).

Moreover, it is far from clear that having Romney at the top of the ticket would drag down Senate candidates.  Will provides no examples of where he thinks it might happen.  Notably, 2012 GOTV efforts will be conducted by groups affiliated with both Karl Rove and the Koch Bros.  More conservative Senate candidates will likely get assistance from the latter, and possibly from the former (In 2010, American Crossroads stepped up in Nevada after the RNC and NRSC ran away).

Is Mitt Romney the GOP’s Michael Dukakis?  Here again, Dukakis performed about as well in 1988 as would be predicted from the economy at the time.  Although we remember his missteps as a candidate, we tend to forget that the effect of those missteps was marginal.  Furthermore, as noted, to the extent Romney is a squish, it marginally helps him, relative to a NotRomney nominee. 

None of which is intended to dismiss marginal effects.  In a close election, what happens at the margin is important, perhaps crucial.  Thus, whether Will is ultimately right depends on the reader’s own assessment about how close the election may be, which ought to turn mostly on the reader’s certainty in his or her forecast for the economy.

On another level, Will’s final question is perhaps not quite the dig at Romney it seems to be in print.  Has conservatism come so far to settle for this?  If NotRomney voters cannot settle on a consensus NotRomney candidate, conservatism will have to settle for Romney.  And that is not Romney’s fault in the slightest.  Will’s real dig may be at what conservatism has managed to produce as the alternative to Romney.

–Karl

10/28/2011

Insiders vs Cainsiders

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 12:52 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The GOP strategists surveyed in this week’s National Journal Political Insiders Poll almost unanimously identified Mitt Romney as the most likely candidate to win the nomination, followed by Rick Perry and Herman Cain.  It’s not a surpising result, even after discounting for the Romney ties of a number of those surveyed (I haven’t investigated Perry or Cain ties, but would hypothesize there are fewer in the survey; Perry has recently hired staff with more national experience, but of those, only Jim Innocenzi leaps out in the polling list).  It is a result at odds with national polling showing Romney neck-and-neck with Cain.

Although Nate Silver does not think Cain can win, he entertains the idea that he could be an outlier.   That served as a springboard for Ace:

I think the pundit class, by and large, is committing the crime of Aggravated Solipsism. They don’t find Cain plausible or acceptable; ergo, he is not plausible or acceptable to a plurality of the Republican primary electorate and ergo he cannot, under any circumstances, win.

They seem to completely ignore the part about people getting to vote. And those people, when voting, expressing a different opinion on whether or not he is plausible or acceptable.

***

Most of the party doesn’t want Romney as their standard bearer. We know this from the fact that Romney does all the technical aspects of politicking right — good debater, good ads, raises lots of money, strong organization, unified and relentless messaging from surrogates — and yet can’t rise any higher than 25% in polls.

And yet Cain, who does almost all of the technical things wrong, is at the same 25% and rising.

Cain could very well win the nomination, if people just want an angry old dude spouting dumbass crap as their nominee. Which is what I think the people actually want, and I’m sick of instructing them that maybe they should rest their Emotion Muscles a little bit and work out their Thinking Muscles some more.

They won’t do it.

RTWT for bonus profanity.  Although I get Ace’s point, I think he is unduly influenced by the many debates he fought over the more controversial Senate candidates in 2010.  On this point, I find myself siding with the conventional wisdom.  Unelected Businessguy With a Plan generally ends up imploding from lack of experience campaigning and failing to recognize that the Plan will invariably attract many critics.  Moreover, the presidency is not a Senate seat; voters — including GOP primary voters — set the bar higher.  For all the criticism leveled at people in early caucus and primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, their arrogance signals they take the process seriously.  When push comes to shove, most do not see the presidency as an entry-level position.  This is why it’s not surprising that Romney is currently tied-to-leading Cain even in more conservative arenas like Iowa and South Carolina, and is well ahead in more moderate venues like New Hampshire and Florida.  It’s also why a focus group in Ohio (admittedly unscientific) likes Cain but cannot see him as president (Romney supporters note: Perry not well-liked by the group).  It is one thing to tell a pollster your preference months away from an actual vote; it’s another when casting a vote you might think matters.

*Standard disclaimer: Yes, a Cain administration would be better than a second Obama administration.

–Karl

Sockpuppet Friday–the Bad, Bad Halloween Costume Edition!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:55 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sockpuppetry on this thread. The usual rules apply.

Please be sure to switch back to your regular handle when commenting on other threads. I have made that mistake myself.

And remember, the worst sin you can commit on this thread is not being funny.

————————————–

And for this week’s Friday frivolity, Cracked has given us a list of sixteen horrible adult Halloween costumes. Sound off in the comments: which do you think is the worst?

My vote is for Fee Ling Yu (say it out loud! It’s a knee-slapper!), the horrifying Asian stereotype. Um, yeah, definitely don’t wear that to the office Christmas party—I mean, unless you work at Bob Jones University or something.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

10/27/2011

Godwinning the income inequality debate

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:18 am

[Posted by Karl]

Given the internet, I’m not surprised James Pethokoukis beat me to this by a couple of hours, as I intend to rely on his prior work a bit:

Liberals think there are lots of ideas that intelligent Americans just aren’t supposed to challenge. If they do, they’ll be labeled “deniers,” intentionally raising a nasty comparison to Holocaust rejectionists. It’s politics at its absolute lowest.

Among the unchallengeable dogmata: the Obama stimulus created millions of jobs, Obamacare will save trillions of dollars, Dodd-Frank prevents future bank bailouts, policy uncertainty isn’t an issue hampering the recovery. And, of course, global warming poses an existential threat to civilization and humanity. Make that an “undeniable” threat.

You can now add “income inequality” to the list, thanks to New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait. In a column headlined “The Ideological Fantasies of Inequality Deniers,” Chait writes: “Rising income inequality, like climate change, is an ideologically inconvenient issue for conservatives. … The underlying facts, like the facts of climate change, are stark. Over the last few decades, income growth for most Americans has slowed to a crawl, while income for the very rich has exploded.”

Chait’s attack targets Rep. Raul Ryan for a speech he gave at the Heritage Foundation.  Thunders Chait: ”Don’t confuse Paul Ryan with the facts. If studies run up against Ryan’s ideology, then the studies must give way.”  Chait’s argument has a couple of teeny-weeny flaws.

First, none of Chait’s quotes from the speech have Ryan denying income inequality.  Indeed, if you read the entire speech — which I recommend — Ryan never denies income inequality.  You would think that if you were going to insinuate that someone is akin to a Nazi sympathizer, you would want to have evidence of the “denial” at issue.  But you are not Jon Chait — unless you are Jon Chait, in which case I’m sorry for you, dude.  Rather, Ryan argues in the speech that American policy should be focused on upward income mobility, rather than redistribution of wealth.

Second, in discussing mobility, Ryan said this:

The Treasury Department’s latest study on income mobility in America found that during the ten-year period starting in 1996, roughly half of the taxpayers who started in the bottom 20 percent had moved up to a higher income group by 2005.

Meanwhile, half of all taxpayers ended up in a different income group at the end of ten years. Many moved up, and some moved down, but economic growth resulted in rising incomes for most people over this period.

Another recent survey of over 500 successful entrepreneurs found that 93 percent came from middle-class or lower-class backgrounds. The majority were the first in their families to launch a business.

Those studies are consistent with a recent study by a Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, covering 2001-07, and a Census Bureau study of US households in poverty.  To be sure, there are studies like one Chait cites, suggesting there is less income mobility in the US than in various European countries — but there are studies pointing the other way, too.  (Indeed, had Ryan chosen to expressly address income inequality, as opposed to income mobility, he could have cited a number of studies suggesting the issue is overstated and expert opinion that income inequality has its benefits, promoting innovation and economic success — a position contrary to the right’s supposed denial of the phenomenon.)  If Ryan is to be accused of ignoring “the studies,” despite having cited studies, then Chait is equally guilty.

Less than three months ago, Chait wrote:

Conservative pundits, while usually slanting their account in highly partisan and often misleading terms, do a fairly good job of grasping and explaining the fact that the two parties fundamentally disagree on the causes of and solutions to the economic crisis and the long-term deficit. In this sense, a Rush Limbaugh listener may well be better informed about the causes of the impasse than listener of NPR or other mainstream organs. The former will have in his mind a wildly slanted version of the basic political landscape, while the latter’s head will be filled with magical thinking.

When it comes to income inequality and mobility, it’s Chait wearing the magical thinking cap.  Unable to acknowledge that debatable questions are in fact debatable, Chait slinks into the gutter, insulting the memory of the Holocaust in the process.  It is the sort of tactic employed when losing a debate.

–Karl

10/26/2011

Jennifer Rubin and Manufacturing Consent

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:01 am

[Posted by Karl]

Ben Smth’s Politico profile of WaPo non-liberal blogger Jennifer Rubin, highlighting her relentless attacks on Rick Perry (and parallel Romney boosterism) does not tell any reader on the right anything they didn’t know, but it took a lefty, Balloon Juice’s DougJ, to latch onto the telling details, first quoting the story:

The Washington Post’s official conservative blogger, Jennifer Rubin, has written 60 columns on the would-be conservative favorite, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, eight of them Tuesday.

Rubin tends to write long, for a blogger, and those columns add up to 38,722 words, among them “sleepy,” “hostile,” “dreadful,” “provincial,” “cloying,” and “buffoon.”

DougJ comments:

Eight anti-Perry posts in one day? Thirty eight thousand words (the length of a short novel)?

There’s no way an establishment blogger on the Democratic side would get such a hard-on for one candidate that they’d attack the candidate that obsessively.

The eight anti-Perry posts were no surprise — Romney was busy massively screwing up in Ohio, so her other topic was off the table Tuesday.  But Rubin’s overall record does border on monomania.  Based on her quotes, Rubin apaprently does not care that this makes her look both lazy and incapable of editing herself.  She may want to consider that obsessive groupiedom is a sure way to get a conservative audience to tune you out (see, e.g., Andrew Sullivan).

Redstate’s Erick Erickson (admittedly pro-Perry) questions whether the WaPo should be employing as its ostensibly conservative blogger someone so openly shilling for a single candidate.  That’s not a bad question, but there is a better one.  I suspect Erickson and others would be less irked by Rubin if the situation did not epitomize the establishment media’s efforts to manufacture center-left consent.  Erickson himself is a contributor at CNN, but among Big Media, only Fox presents anything close to the diversity of the right — and then only because they have to fill air 24/7.  The rest hire few conservatives.  Accordingly, the impulse on the right is to want those slots by filled by someone approaching generic conservatism.  However, what you get from the New York Times and the WaPo (which still set the agenda for network TV news) is the likes of Ross Douthat and Rubin (Smith reports the WaPo has been courting Marc Thiessen, but he’s known primarily on national security and foreign policy and thus not much different from Rubin).  From this perspective, it’s not surprising that a lefty would be struck by Rubin’s over-the-top approach, as more hardcore lefties also tend to be marginalized by Big Media. 

There are many on the right who dismiss such concerns because they dismiss the establishment media in general.  However, anyone not actively seeking out the conservative or libertarian viewpoint will encounter them only through Big Media.  Those who dismiss the establishment media also tend to wonder why the right isn’t more successful politically.  There are a number of answers to this (some of them structural), but one reason is because the left picks the public voices of the right to the casual voter.

–Karl

10/25/2011

The Occupiers Get an Endorsement!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:21 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Yesterday morning, Richard Cohen wrote a column about how swell the Occupy movement is, but really the title says it all: Where are the Anti-Semites of Occupy Wall Street?

Ah, well, found one:

(Click on the image to see his full, ugly endorsement of the Occupy Wall Street protest, or click here.)

I am waiting for the media, who often hung around the necks of every Tea Partier the misdeeds of one or two kooks (who may or may not have been Mobys) to explain why we shouldn’t consider this Occupy movement anti-Semitic using neutral standards that would apply even-handedly to the Tea Party.

But I ain’t holding my breath.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

How the Washington Post campaigns for Obama’s re-election

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 10:45 am

[Posted by Karl]

I try to avoid focusing on media bias, but when I see Ed Morrissey and others favorably citing the WaPo story on Obama’s housing policy failure, I must respectfully dissent.  Consider the narrative-building at work in the WaPo piece:

The Obama effort fell short in part because the president and his senior advisers, after a series of internal debates, decided against more dramatic actions to help homeowners, worried that they would pose risks for taxpayers and the economy, according to numerous current and former officials. They consistently unveiled programs that underperformed, did little to reduce mortgage debts owed by ordinary Americans and rejected a get-tough approach with banks.

***

Not that there were easy answers. The administration faced the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. Spending large amounts of taxpayer money to bail out some homeowners — but not necessarily their neighbors — carried huge political risks and faced opposition in Congress.

It is, coincidentally or not, strikingly similar to the narrative Ezra Klein spun a couple of weeks earlier in a piece on the failure of Obama’s stimulus plan.  While formally a blog post, Klein’s piece runs with the length, original reporting and faux-neutral tone of anything else in the WaPo.  The WaPo spin is precisely the one Team Obama wants put on their obvious and unavoidable failures: It Could Be Worse.  They desperately want the narrative that the current economy was so bad that it could not be fixed by The One in just four years;  he would have done more, but for the obstructionism of those evil wingnuts.  Obama did not lose 3.3 million net jobs; he “saved” millions of jobs, according to the computer models that did not tell him how bad the economy was in the first place.

Contrast the sympathetic, nuanced apologia for Obama’s failures with the WaPo’s breathless, shoddy hit pieces on Rick Perry or Marco Rubio  — possible GOP nominees for president or veep.  (In turn, compare those hit pieces with the way the WaPo dismissed Obama’s longtime association the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as an attack on the black church, itself a smear of most black churchgoers).  The WaPo’s partisan attacks of GOPers feeds the other half of the “It Could Be Worse” campaign — sure, Obama is a miserable failure, but his opponents are dumb, lying, racists.

Some on the right are giving the WaPo credit for reporting on Obama’s failures.  I understand the impulse to encourage coverage that is not completely divorced from reality.  But in this instance, everyone already knows that Obama’s stimulus and housing policies failed.  As biased as the establishment media is, it could hardly stop reporting economic and housing statistics.  Even if they had blacked out such coverage, everyone would still know Obama failed.  In my city, I see the developers desperately trying to unload on their unsold condo conversions.  When I talk to my Dad — who lives in an exurban/rural area — we talk about the longterm unsold houses and the crews the local banks are hiring to mow the lawns on their inventory of foreclosed homes.  Most of us know someone whose mortgage is underwater. And so on, and so on.  The WaPo is not speaking truth to power on these subjects; it’s spinning a pro-Obama narrative of how they think people should think about these subjects.

–Karl

10/24/2011

Reducing Politically Correct Ad Hominems to Absurdity

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:57 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

The modern left seems to love a particular breed of ad hominem.  You cite to them the words and philosophy of Jefferson, Madison, etc. and they say “oh, those were just dead rich white men,” or better yet, “they were rich, dead, racist white slaveholders” and think that means you should dismiss what these people had to say out of hand.  I particularly enjoy it when that argument is deployed in opposition to following the original constitution and in favor of the Supreme Court just making sh-t up, because then you are shifting from being ruled by rich dead white men, to being ruled by a group that is old, rich, mainly white and still mostly male.  Progress!

I am not saying that background is completely irrelevant.  Indeed, the fact that Jefferson was a slaveholder is sometimes relevant in determining what he meant.  There are those who hold to this day that the phrase “all men are created equal” actually meant “all white men are created equal” on the theory that Jefferson clearly didn’t mean his slaves because then he would be a hypocrite.  Mind you, I think the most obvious answer given the evidence is, yes, Jefferson was a hypocrite, but that doesn’t make it unfair or wrong to look at the fact he owned slaves and wonder what he really meant.  So I am not arguing against that sort of thing.  What I am railing against here is the smug belief that this should shallowly and immediately disqualify them from having anything worthwhile to say.

So I had to chuckle when I saw this impulse reduced to absurdity in this New York Times story on the libraries created by the Occupy movement, with this hilarious line:

The librarians have eschewed the Dewey Decimal System, concerned by historical accounts that portray Melvil Dewey, its inventor, as a racist and misogynist.

Right, because Dewey organized his system as follows.  First was “History.”  Then there was “Irish (Drunken Bastards).”  And then there was “Jews (Who Control the World).”  And it just got worse from there…

Joking aside, the thing with the Dewey system is that it’s sort of like the issue of which side of the road you drive on.  In England they drive on the left; in America, we drive on the right.  There is no great moral reason to drive on one side or the other, as long as everyone in a given jurisdiction does the same thing. If there is anything specifically offensive in the Dewey system–the use of racial slurs, for instance–I have no objection to fixing it, but to throw out the whole thing just because you are concerned he was (allegedly) a pig when I see no obvious reason to think is piggishness affected anything is just stupid and close-minded.

And, I might add, it is strategically dumb for a movement that seems to be attracting a lot of anti-Semites.

Update: By the way, what would happen if those Occupy Wall Street types learned that Guy Fawkes was a pro-Catholic theocrat and that Che was just plain racist?

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

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