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  1. Atypical is offline
    01-20-2010, 07:18 PM #11

    And Here Is What I Meant Above.

    Mixed Messages in Massachusetts
    Still looking for meaning in the Brown-Coakley results

    By Greg Marx

    Now that the counting’s over in Massachusetts and the crying’s begun for Democrats, with a conservative Republican poised to take over Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat and health care reform still unfinished, the press is doing its best to sort out what it all means. And in the first round of election post-mortems, many outlets turned to the same idea: voters in the Bay State had “sent a message.”

    Here, for example, is the opening of the “news analysis” story in The Boston Globe:

    Angry Massachusetts voters sent Washington a ringing message yesterday: Enough.

    Voter anxiety and resentment, building for months in a troubled economy, exploded like a match on dry kindling in the final days of the special election for US Senate. In arguably the most liberal state in the nation, a Republican - and a conservative one at that - won and will crash the Bay State’s all-Democratic delegation with a mandate to kill the health care overhaul pending in Congress.

    It is difficult to overstate the significance of Scott Brown’s victory because so much was at stake. From the agenda of President Obama and the legacy of the late Edward M. Kennedy to a referendum on the Democratic monopolies of power on Capitol and Beacon hills, voters in a lopsidedly Democratic state flooded the polls on a dreary winter day to turn conventional wisdom on its head.
    In other words: angry voters don’t like direction of change in D.C., take action to stop it. That’s clear enough, and seems to be echoed in the headline of the analysis piece on the front page of the Globe’s corporate parent, The New York Times: “A Year Later, Voters Send a Different Message.”

    But probe that Times story, and a different picture starts to emerge, one that suggests maybe the message isn’t quite so clear:

    Ms. Coakley lost in no small part because of what many Democrats viewed as a stumbling campaign against a sharp and focused opponent. There is a good argument that the outcome was as much an anti-incumbent wave during tough economic times as it was an anti-Democratic wave. And there is still time before the midterm elections for the economy to rebound in a way that benefits Democratic candidates, and for Mr. Obama to make a case that the health care legislation, if he finds a way to sign it into law, will benefit the hard-pressed middle class.

    Still, Ms. Coakley’s defeat could easily be seen as evidence that the Obama White House is out of step with much of the American public — pushing through a health care plan at a time when many voters are primarily concerned about unemployment.
    So, the result “could be seen”—by whom?—as a repudiation of D.C. Democrats. On the other hand, “there is a good argument”—advanced by whom?—that it wasn’t that at all. The message is starting to get fuzzy.

    It isn’t much cleared up by the effort from the Associated Press. The AP story runs the interpretations that Democrats and Republicans are trying to push, then moves into analysis mode:

    American voters rejected Republican control in the 2006 congressional elections and the 2008 presidential election. Democrats widely assumed that a top priority, and a winning political issue, was to make health insurance more accessible and competitive.

    But now, just 14 months later, voters are snarling at the Democrats they put in charge, leaving them to wonder how to expand services without invoking public wrath.

    John Triolo, a Massachusetts independent who voted for Obama in 2008 and for Brown on Tuesday, exemplified the confusing message.

    “I voted for Obama because I wanted change,” said Triolo, 38, a sales manager from Fitchburg. “I wanted change, I thought he’d bring it to us, but I just don’t like the direction that he’s heading.”

    Everyone should have health coverage, Triolo said, “but I think we should take the time to look at it, but not ram it down our throat.” (What the hell does that mean! Atypical)

    So voters are sending a message with their electoral choices, after all. Unfortunately, it’s a “confusing” one. Make of that what you will.

    There’s a reason why interpretive articles that make strong claims for the “message” of this outcome devolve into over-written cliché, and why pieces that attempt to grapple more honestly with the material descend to insider baseball or ambiguous mush. It’s because elections—especially one-off special elections—are ill-suited for that purpose. An election is the distillation of many, many factors—partisan affiliation, candidate and campaign quality, economic circumstances, political trends, etc.—into one choice: this person, or that person? Trying reason back from a result to its causes, and to divine a message from that stew, can be a fun exercise in informed speculation. But it’s rarely more than that.

    Exit polls are the media and political world’s attempt to deal with this problem, and much has been made the absence of the leading exit poll consortium in this case, which has led some media outlets to turn to other sources for data. But while exit polls may have some uses, like helping to estimate the demographics of the electorate that turns out on a given day, reports about voters’ explanations for their choices should always be taken with a grain of salt.

    That’s because, as research has shown, voters are not reliable reporters of their own mental processes. While journalists can offer speculation about why an electoral result occurred, voters may offer rationalizations. (For example, a voter who says he supported Brown because he opposes health care reform may have decided to support Brown because he liked his truck, observed that Brown opposed health care, and then, when stopped by a pollster upon leaving the ballot box and given a list of potential explanations, selected health care.)

    The point is not that voters in Massachusetts actually, down deep, support health care reform, or approve of Obama’s performance; or that the outlook for Democrats in the mid-terms is not grim (it is, though we knew that already). The point is that the press can’t with any confidence discern a message from this outcome, and attempts to do so both misuse journalistic resources and suggest to readers that we know more than we do.

    But while this election may not have a clear message, that doesn’t mean it won’t have consequences—starting, of course, with some real uncertainty about the fate of health care reform. We don’t need press speculation on that point, but we do need good reporting on the choices being made by key political actors, and the fall-out they will have. Hopefully, the press will get the “message” talk out of its system shortly, and focus on the political story that matters.
    Last edited by Atypical; 01-20-2010 at 07:21 PM.

  2. Atypical is offline
    01-20-2010, 08:41 PM #12

    This Is How Conservatives Think!

    You Can Take "Visceral Comfort" In The White Man's Win.

    Lost in the angst over Scott Brown's victory, is this small bit of comfort ... unless of course you're black, brown, a woman, or just not that good looking ... from the brain trust that gathered yesterday on MSNBC's Morning Joe:

    Donny Deutsch got the ball rolling, suggesting that voters may be "going back to basics" after electing an African-American president and seeing "the female candidates and whatnot." Scott Brown, Deutsch added, "looks like the traditional view of a candidate," which may bring a "visceral comfort" to voters.

    Mike Barnicle found value in the observation, saying that "there's something to it."

    The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan added that Brown is "a regular guy" who "looks like an American."

    What's next for Morning Joe? A discussion on the visceral comfort real Americans can take with the formation of the All-American Basketball Alliance, where only "natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play."

    Whether covert or overt, it seems like racism is back in fashion.

    And as Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly points out:
    Tell me again media establishment, about how MSNBC is a liberal bastion that's shifted to the left, on par with Fox News being a propaganda outlet for the Republican Party.

  3. Atypical is offline
    01-21-2010, 01:33 PM #13

    Another Good View Except For Those That Like Everything SOOO Simple.

    Robert Greenwald: "Shoot Anything That Moves": Brave New Films Interviews Coakley Campaign Pollster Celinda Lake and PCCC Co-Founder Stephanie Taylor [VIDEO]

    Why did the Democrats lose this week in Massachusetts? Brave New Films put this question to Celinda Lake, pollster for the Coakley campaign, and Stephanie Taylor from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Forget the conventional wisdom about moving to the center versus moving toward the base: both parties have been bought and paid for by corporate special interests, Lake argues, and consequently, the Tea Party Patriots have become a more popular political force than either the Democratic or the Republican Party:

    The Democrats didn't lose the Massachusetts Senate race this Tuesday. They lost it over twelve long and agonizing months ago, well before anyone even knew there would be a Massachusetts Senate race in January of 2010.

    To put a rough date on it, this race was lost for the Democrats sometime between the 2008 election and the inauguration, whenever it was that the Obama administration made the fateful decision not to challenge Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, AIG and the rest of the white collar criminals that drove the U.S. economy into the ground, and chose instead to appoint Wall Street's most prominent boosters and apologists to his economic advisory team. It was compounded when the White House and the Democratic Congressional leadership spearheaded a healthcare reform strategy rooted in the false notions that the opponents of reform are operating in good faith, that legislation directly challenging the profit motives of one of the biggest industries in America can be achieved by consensus, and that the era of political partisanship is over. And as the Afghanistan war grows ever more disastrous, the political swamp the Democrats find themselves in today will become an inescapable quagmire, in the 2010 midterms and beyond.

    When voters look at the Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats today, they see little of the 'change' they cast their ballots for last November. On healthcare, the White House has been outmaneuvered, out-organized, and outmatched by the health insurance industry from the very beginning, while the Democratic leaders in Congress have allowed the will of the caucus' majority to be flouted and marginalized by a handful of industry-bought pretenders like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman.

    Failure over healthcare reform has been a shortcoming of political competence. Worse for the perception of voters in Massachusetts and elsewhere are the cases of the foreclosure crisis and re-regulation of the financial industry. In these cases, the administration has taken a timid stance, abdicating responsibility and even defending the status quo. These were failures not of competence, but of moral leadership. The upshot of this state of affairs in the minds of voters is the continuation of business as usual in Washington DC.

    Ted Kennedy's seat was lost this Tuesday not because voters abandoned Obama's call for change, but because they continue to embrace it. The truth is that the mainstream of the Democratic leadership has forfeited its claims to that mantle. Voters continue to seek change, but they have found that the solution is not so facile as simply electing Democratic majorities to the House and Senate.

    Obama famously instructed us that we are the change we are seeking. That message resonates now more strongly than ever, but only because we have discovered, to our dismay, that it is not to be found in Congress or the White House. This is the lesson coming out of Massachusetts this week: change will come, but its catalyst will not be found in Washington DC. It will have to come from us.

  4. john is offline
    john's Avatar
    Joined: May 2008 Posts: 2,836
    01-21-2010, 03:03 PM #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Atypical View Post
    If you look at everything he has said and think that he is a good candidate and has the residents of Massachusetts in mind to do a good job, you are an ideologue.

    And I think, from what I have heard, that she was a bad campaigner. Which has nothing to do with her values or views.

    You apparently have no such conscience.

    I love this, so let me get this straight Ted Kennedy after,
    *getting drunk,
    *running a car off a bridge,
    *leaving a women to die,
    *as he ran away,
    was better then Coakley.

    Excuse me, but as bad as Coakley was there is no way shape or form as bad as Kennedy. I cant remember at anytime that she was directly responcible for some elses death.

    Hummm I should not have to mention she was your parties choice, SHE BEAT OUT 3 OTHER DEMOCRATS. So you are saying she was the best you had.

  5. Atypical is offline
    01-22-2010, 07:19 PM #15

    WOW. More Interesting Information Not Superficiality.

    Pedophiles, Terrorists and the Massachusetts Senate Race
    01/21/2010 by Jim Naureckas

    An illuminating account of how conservatives won the Massachusetts Senate race (Washington Independent, 1/20/10) singled out an op-ed by Dorothy Rabinowitz in the Wall Street Journal (1/14/10) as having energized citizens to vote against Martha Coakley. And, honestly, the piece does provide plenty of legitimate ammunition for the anti-Coakley side.

    The op-ed centered on a case in which three members of the Amirault family, which ran a pre-school in Massachusetts, were sent to prison based on children's accounts of seemingly impossible sexual abuse. (Read the column if you want to see the grisly yet preposterous examples.) Rabinowitz, who has long written about the child sex-abuse witch-hunting that has put numerous people in jail based on bizarre and unverifiable accusations, pointed to Coakley's strenuous defense of the convictions as attorney general as evidence of her unsuitability for higher office.

    It's refreshing to see a piece of conservative opinion journalism that is grounded in actual investigation and addresses a real issue (and doesn't mention ACORN even once). If it had an impact on the outcome of the Senate race, that's what political writing is supposed to do.

    There's one false note that I want to point out in the op-ed, though, when Rabinowitz contrasted Coakley's enthusiasm for the dubious process that convicted the Amiraults with her concern over the treatment of prisoners rounded up in the "War on Terror": "It is little short of wonderful to hear now of Ms. Coakley's concern for the rights of terror suspects at Guantanamo--her urgent call for the protection of the right to the presumption of innocence."

    I think it's fair to say that the point of Rabinowitz's sarcasm is that Coakley's concern for due process is misplaced--that it should be reserved for the innocent Amiraults, and not extended to the terror suspects. This impression is confirmed by an earlier column from Rabinowitz (2/2/09) that attacked Obama for "issuing executive orders effectively undermining efforts to extract (from captured Al-Qaeda operatives) intelligence essential to the prevention of terror attacks"--i.e., preventing the government from torturing suspects.

    Sexually abusing children and killing random people to make political points are both horrible things--which is why people are inclined not to worry too much about the rights of people who are accused of such crimes, and sometimes neglect the rules that are designed to separate the guilty from the innocent. Rabinowitz made a strong case that Coakley fell into this trap when it came to the Massachusetts pre-school charges--but she seems to have a similar blind spot for the possibility that some inmates at Guantanamo may have been equally railroaded.

    Rabinowitz writes movingly about the heartbreak of being unjustly imprisoned and separated from one's family; she could write exactly the same story about many of the Guantanamo inmates--but provoking outrage against the politicians responsible for the tragedies might not be to her ideological taste.

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