Friday, February 29, 2008

SPLIT PERSONALITY? This may explain why the New York Times editorial page has been behaving so strangely lately.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

NYT LOSES ITS MIND? Check out this passage from a Wednesday editorial:
Mr. Obama's campaign often seems to teeter on becoming a cult of personality--a feeling that the candidate and those around him do nothing to dispel. In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," on Monday, Mr. Obama's wife, Michelle, was asked if she would work to support Mrs. Clinton if she won. "I'd have to think about that," she replied.

Mrs. Obama quickly got back on her talking points, stressing party unity. But her unguarded answer was similar to what we heard from Obama supporters in e-mail messages that we received after endorsing Mrs. Clinton. Many of those readers said they would not bother to vote if Mr. Obama lost the nomination. That is not the way democracy is supposed to work.
Three points.

First: The Obama "cult of personality"? Are you kidding? Is this The New York Times or Rush Limbaugh? I have literally no idea what The Times is referring to here--and I've been watching this race very closely.

Are many Obama supporters passionate? Clearly. (Though not nearly as passionate as were Howard Dean's core supporters.) But painting that enthusiasm as cult-like is sloppy, histrionic and irresponsible.

Second: It's especially sloppy given the meager evidence The Times produces: That the paper got a few nasty e-mails (?!?) and that Michelle Obama said that she might not work to support Hillary Clinton as nominee. How this kind of off-hand comment proves anything is utterly beyond me.

Third: Regarding the assertion, "That is not the way democracy is supposed to work." If Sen. Clinton is the nominee, I will tell any Obama supporter that it would be a serious, dangerous mistake not to support her. But sitting out the election would not be, as The Times posits, an affront to democracy.

People should vote their consciences. The idea that doing so might be undemocratic is madness.

The Times should know better.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thus, the big question is how much attention to pay to the results map on television--lighted up with, say, states that have swung to Senator John McCain's column--and how much attention to pay to the delegate counter. The answer is pay attention to both, though put somewhat more focus on states for the Republicans and put somewhat more on delegates for the Democrats. The delegate count might matter more officially, but the state results could count more politically, and that will be the central tension of the night.
Nagourney has a seat--a big seat--at the table when it comes to determining what "could count more politically."

But instead of using that seat to trumpet the truth, he hews to a fuzzy, sloppy pundit consensus.

So let's be clear: Delegates are the only thing that matters. And so the only way for state results to have an impact is if they wind up influencing delegate totals.

The most likely way for that to happen, of course, is if lazy reporters mischaracterize the situation in way that distorts the races and ultimately influences results.

In his article, Nagourney has already done what he could toward that tend.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.