Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Chris Cillizza Gives Away The Game

There is a really instructive exchange between Norm Ornstein - the Jeremiah of American politics - and Chris Cillizza of the WaPo.  To me, this is the critical line from Cillizza:
 Policy proposals are great. But they aren’t terribly instructive  at least to me  on how and what a candidate will do as president.

Here we have the great failure at the heart of political journalism.  Ornstein deftly lays out how "horse race" coverage ultimately normalizes the abomination that is the Trump candidacy.  Cillizza says that in fact "personality" is really all there is to cover.

In fact, what a candidate says he or she will do is really instructive to what they will at least try to do.  They might be thwarted in their efforts, but Obama is still trying to close Gitmo, because he said he was going to close Gitmo.  He did create the ACA.  He did get us out of Iraq.  Politicians pretty much try and do what they say they will do.  They may fail, but they usually try.

Ornstein responds that delving into Clinton's time as Secretary of State or Senator would be absolutely fair, but that would also require letting go of nontroversies like the Foundation story.  Ornstein does give high and deserved praise for the WaPo's David Farenthold who has exposed more dirt on Trump in the last three weeks than Trey Gowdy could find on Clinton in three years.

Trump HAS NO POLICIES.  That's the key point.  Aside from the Wall, most of his policies are moving targets.  Hopefully, the Clinton camp realizes that Trump will show up and the debate and make up new policies that people might like, as opposed to his actual policies.  Since the moderator is unlikely to call Trump a liar in real time, Clinton will have to, and then it's "both sides are calling each other names."

Trump has exploited this form of journalism - where facts and truth are subordinated to optics and tactics - to move into a tie with Clinton.  If it continues, he could become president.  And that scares the living shit out of me.

Read the whole exchange.  It's worth the time.

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