04 January 2008

Predictable, not an "Earthquake."

What a load of crap we can read in the papers this morning. The Washington Post, sitting here on the table, asserts that "Change in the Air" and "Conventional Wisdom Defied," as if it was such a big surprise that Huckabee and Obama won the Iowa Caucuses. The online edition is even more hyperbolic, claiming "An Earthquake in the Midwest." "Change" and "Defiance" might have been in the air if, say, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich won the Caucuses, but those two finished so far off the map it's probably safe to say that most readers won't find much about them in the papers. But then, that would be fairly similar to the way the papers have covered the campaigns of anyone who isn't listed as a "frontrunner" early on. Aside from a puff piece on Kucinich (that made constant reference to his wife and her tongue piercing) and an opinion piece on Paul that claimed to be about Libertarianism, the Washington Post, along with other major media outlets, has more or less taken a vow of silence concerning candidates not named Clinton, Obama, Huckabee, or Romney (Guiliani, McCain, and Edwards get some attention, but not much).

Part of the problem is that the media is unaccustomed to dealing with multi-faceted contests; it's much simpler and more space-conscious to turn things into two-way races. After all, most blockbuster films and sports contests use that format, so why get confused trying to remember anyone else? Fundamentally, the papers have a terrible time discussing politics without turning it into a sporting contest. As they look ahead to New Hampshire, the Post wishes to portray the Republican contest as a fight between Romney and McCain, dropping the Iowa winner Huckabee to status of odd-man out, because New Hampshire doesn't contain as many false-faced Christians -- the journalists can't actually write stories that capture the primaries as multiply contested fronts. Even as the Post pays lip-service to the Huckabee's win, they turn their attention to reducing the next matchup to the easiest possible narrative.

Seriously, though, how can any paper see Huckabee's win as some sort of sea change in the GOP? Huckabee, like Bush before him, is riding the social conservative wave of religious fundamentalism that has formed the core of the GOP for the better part of the last three decades. For this core of whack-jobs, Mitt Romney --a Mormon for Christ's sake -- is hardly more than an atheist and certainly a step or two below a Catholic, McCain is a Manchurian Candidate, and Guiliani is a dangerous abortionist.

Now you have Huckabee, a man who's spent more money (not his own though) on this campaign so far than all but a few people have made in their lifetimes, trying to claim that his victory is a victory of a new "ruling class," whatever the hell that means:
"One is not elected to be part of the ruling class; he's elected to be part of the serving class," he said. "Because 'We the people' are the ruling class of America."

I think he cribbed it from a movie like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It's one of those troubling sentiments to me, because it's one that I believe should be true, but one which reality constantly reminds me is not true. I doubt that "We the people" really advocated closing down all our factories and driving up corporate profits at the expense of, well, "We the people." I doubt that "We the people" are behind the continued prosecution of George Bush's Iraqi Adventure, but so far Huckabee's "ruling class" hasn't forced Bush out of Iraq. Last time I checked, "We the people" weren't even entrusted with the knowledge of our government's nasty dealings with third-world dictators and secret prisons and torture methods. Pretty pathetic ruling class, if you ask me.

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