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

Friday, September 2, 2016

Yes, It's Tightening

The poll aggregates are tightening.  Clinton still has a decent sized lead of around 5 points.  That is more than sufficient to win in November if she maintains it.

Of course, Trump has raised the question of just how big a loss does electorate need to deliver to Trump to kill Trumpism?  Unless Gary Johnson beats Donald Trump, you can make an argument that too many Americans voted for Donald Trump.

So, while Clinton is still likely to win, the margin of victory matters in this election for what it tells us about America.  Trump is so far out there - Josh Marshall accurately described his Phoenix immigration address as hate speech - that anything less than a truly crushing loss is a disturbing statement about America in 2016.

There are probably two reasons why the race is getting close.  One is the time of year.  People typically tune out after the conventions and before the debates.  They also tend not to spend much time answering pollsters.  That can tilt results towards people who are older and don't have kids going back to school.  I know I'm not even answering the repeated pleas from the Red Cross until next week.  I see the number and decline.

The more we pay attention to Trump, the worse he typically does.  So the relative quiet from his camp over the past two weeks means that his numbers have probably stayed the same or maybe crept upwards.  (I should also note that a lot of the polls being released are kind of suspect, like Rasmussen, Gravis or Emerson.  Emerson, for instance, doesn't use cell numbers.)

The other reason is shit like this.

Neither the Left not the Right likes the press whose favorability numbers are around that of Alex Rodriquez or Hurricane Hermine.  Liberals, though, typically WANT the press to function well, we just don't think it does.

Which brings us to the NY Times and the fucking Clinton Rules.  Clinton suffers under two liabilities.  One is the fact that she's a woman, and we struggle to accommodate female leadership styles in our politics.  The other is the presumption of guilt that the press - especially the Times, from which other, lesser outlets take their cues - routinely foists on her.

I can go back to Whitewater - which the Times flogged ceaselessly - as an example of the huge Ur-Nothingburger of the Clinton Rules.  They invested in Whitewater.  They lost some money.  From this spanned a multi-year, multi-million dollar investigation that eventually had us impeaching a president over lying about blow jobs.

This has been doubly true for Hillary Clinton, who lacks Bill's fundamental charisma.  Let's refresh:

Benghazi: Four Americans went to a dangerous place against the advice of security.  They were killed.  Original reports suggested it was tied to protests in Egypt.  Those initial reports were wrong.  We've had God knows how many investigations into Benghazi by hostile partisans and even they can't find anything wrong.

Emails: Clinton did what others before her have done and kept a private email account, even going so far as to store the server in his basement next to Chelsea's Legos.  Some of the emails were deleted.  No emails contained classified material that was classified at the time it was sent.  The presence - or non-presence - of deleted emails must indicate guilt, because she is a Clinton.

Now we have the Clinton Foundation "scandal".  Again, you have headlines that suggest that Clinton did something wrong.  Almost inevitably, those stories note that there was never any quid-pro-quo between donors and the Secretary of State.  But the headlines suggest that they do.

Frankly, this is journalistic malpractice.  Recently Melania Trump sued a tabloid for suggestion she was an escort.  She's not going to win, because absence of malice.  I wonder if Clinton could win, because the pattern of malice and presumption of guilt absent any evidence is enough to create the malice that might explain the terrible coverage HRC receives from the media.

Markos Moulitas has argued that the press is increasingly becoming irrelevant in presidential politics.  Clinton is right to focus on local media, because they do ask questions relevant to local viewers/readers/listeners.

But the national narrative of Clinton is set by the national media.  They hate her and the feeling is mutual.  The problem is that the national narrative is preventing a complete blow-out in November, the sort of wave election that delivers the House and allows for government to function again.

It matters, and the media are failing.

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