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Sunday, November 07, 2004

 

Some Post Election Observations

According to the WSJ, John Kerry went to bed "around 2 AM not knowing for sure who had won the election..." If that were true, it would be simply amazing, but I think the reality was that Kerry had figured out that Ohio was lost by that time and with it the election. So why no concession? Democrat lawyers were in charge of that decision at that point and there was not yet a determination that Ohio was beyond a recount/appeal.

Given that, the appearance by Edwards around 2-2;30 was simply inexplicable. He gave a pep talk a la Howard Dean that bordered on the surreal, at a time when the occasion called for some realism. That moment likely signaled the end of his career in national politics, regardless of his ambitions for 2008. The only thing that goes south faster than a former vice president is a failed VP candidate.

Another brilliant comment quoted in the Journal was from a Kerry staffer who said "We felt pretty good until the actual votes were counted." She wasn't the only one misled by the faulty exit polls which somehow forgot about the 20% of the country who voted early. The assumption for some reason was that these were mainly Kerry voters, when likely the opposite was the case. In fact, Bush campaign workers were advised to vote early so that they could devote full attention to their work on election day.

The left's ability to delude itself continues to be one of the compelling stories of national politics. This is true of the certainty of their positions, the belief that all right thinking people must agree with them, and their unwillingness to accept their minority position (and getting worse).

Another interesting sidelight story is the media bias, both explicit (Fox) and non-admitted (everyone else). I did a lot of bouncing around between 7 PM and 2:30 AM though I was clearly most comfortable at FOX, with Britt Hume, Mort Kondracke, Fred Barnes, and Michael Barone. Hume had a great line ("that state hasn't gone Republican since the earth cooled!") and Barone's analysis, whether biased or not, was uncannily accurate all night. Best of all, the raw vote numbers by state in all the races kept streaming across the bottom of the screen all night. This is much better than mere projected percentages, which is what you usually get from the networks, and enabled the viewers to follow the ebb and flow in key states like New Hampshire, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

What I like about Fox, is that the "fair and balanced" slogan is delivered with a wink. We all know that their approach is to balance the leftist slant of the rest of the major media. They are like hometown basball announcers, whose words are impartial but whose tone makes it clear where their rooting interest lies. I find this to be much more honest than the networks that claim impartiality but whose slant is so relentless. This is not recognized by the left, whose perspective is hopelessly compromised.

With all the negative attention given to Dan Rather and CBS, the worst offender is CNN, which is all but becoming the anti - Fox. Somehow, Wednesday morning, I happened to dial though CNN and was amazed to see they still hadn't projected Ohio for Bush! Not ony that, they were running a caption at the top of the screen that said "Too close to call." Is it any wonder that CNN viewers would be shocked by the sudden ending late Wednesday morning.

I thought ABC and NBC did pretty decent jobs. Particularly ABC, which has George Stephanopoulos and George Will, and you always know where they're coming from, so that was OK.

By the way, Kerry showed more class Wednesday morning than he had in months, cutting the lawyers off at the pass with his timely concession. At least he still has a job. Edwards is out a seat, with Daschle and the rest. In fact, the Dems would have done much better with New Mexico governor Richardson on the ticket than Edwards,
who contributed nothing. At least Richardson might have tipped the balance in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. But that's 20-20 hindsight.

So, it was a fun election in the end, despite the agony of getting there. It was a good reminder that US politics can be fun, when everything is back in perspective, and people are civil and can live with the result either way. When things are that way, we are reminded that ours is the greatest system in the world.

The night also was a reminder of how much things have changed in the last 40 years or so. Thinking back to Ted White's classic, The Making of the President, 1960, at that time Connecticut was noted for machine voting and fast reporting of returns (but it took forever for Connecticut to wrap up Tuesday night), New Jersey was the bellweather (now reliably Democrat; Ohio is the current bellweather), and the south was solid (it still is, but now Republican).

All that led me to thinking about my favorite movies about politics. You have to start with the classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Next I would say is Seven Days in May, with the five great performances (Kirk Dougalas, Bert Lancaster, Frederick March, Martin Balsam, and especially Edmund O'Brien). Third, I would say is Advise and Consent, despite the dated, embarassing treatment of homosexuality. Again, great performances from Charles Laughton and Walter Pigeon and a surprisingly competent (for once) Peter Lawford save the day. Next on my list would be Dave, the more recent political satire and All the President's Men. Movies I don't especially like include The Candidate and, Sunrise at Campobello (painful caricature of FDR by Ralph Bellamy). I have to admit that I didn't see the Nixon bio, but even the reviews were painful.



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