Topic: Election Notes
And the wave of Democratic wins raised questions. What was going on?
The election had clearly resolved itself into being a referendum on the war, on the corrupt Republicans in congress, and on so many things.
Molly Ivins, the plainspoken contrarian woman from Austin, has her list -
That'll do. Exit interviews seemed to indicate folks had just had enough. Even large blocks of the evangelicals were voting the incumbents out. The Republican "get out the vote" system was working fine. They got their folks to the voting booths - but they voted their frustrations. They weren't supposed to do that.
But more than anything the election seemed to be a referendum on the president. That evening he was in the White House, staying up quite late (beyond nine) to monitor the results. The Republicans, unlike the Democrats, had scheduled no "watch the returns" party with cameras and the press. They knew better. And one can imagine things were grim at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But what's the problem? If the elections were a referendum on the president, the head of a rather dysfunctional if not incompetent government, what was the case against him?
One can Google a few hundred thousand answers to that question, but could it be what some, like Andrew Sullivan, call an increasingly unavoidable question - Is George W. Bush criminally insane? Is that what people are thinking?
Bill Gallagher, perhaps the Niagara Fall Reporter's only nationally read columnist, is sensing that -
Maybe they didn't have to. The elections were the intervention.
That's one way of looking at it, and certainly vivid, but it may be only a metaphor (one hopes). The noted Middle East scholar at the University of Michigan, Juan Cole, no fan of Bush at all, would like to keep thing a bit less hysterical and offers this -
See? There's no point in name calling - or more precisely, in offering diagnoses of pathological behavior, however apt. The simple managerial answer will do. He's not good at running things, and he overcompensates, acting out.
Either explanation will do fine. The intervention is underway - or the manager's performance review. Take your pick.
The news that got swallowed up under all this, on Election Day, may be of local interest, although it was discussed previously in these pages here and here in a forum with Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta and the professor of marketing at the upstate New York graduate management school - the pressure on news organizations to make money - higher and higher profit margins each year - that makes them abandon anything like responsible journalism. As ABC News' political director, Mark Halperin, recently told Bill O'Reilly, he wanted to make ABC News more like Fox News, with its giant conservative audience. As he explained to O'Reilly - This is about moving product, not producing good journalism.
And so it is, as out here the other shoe dropped - "Dean Baquet, the editor of The Los Angeles Times, who refused to go along with staff cutbacks ordered by the Tribune Company, was forced out of his job today, according to people at the newspaper."
They want to cut reporters, particularly the investigative kind who work so slowly. If you can reduce labor costs you can get a good jump in net profit. They had fired the publisher who protested. Baquet stayed on, hoping he could convince them a newspaper really needed good reporters. They prefer "good enough" - good enough to move product, in this case whatever sparkly items the readers find amusing and drives up circulation and makes for higher advertising revenue. All the Pulitzer Prizes are for chumps, it seems. They brought in the managing editor of the Chicago Tribune to run things - to cut staff and make the paper more like the profitable fourth-rate region rag in Chicago. Ah well.
The New York Times publishes a region edition of its daily and Sunday editions at a printing plant down in Torrance, as does the Wall Street Journal. Those will do - better than a bad imitation of the barely adequate Chicago paper. There's no other local alternative out here. Sigh.
And the sort of thing the new and profitable Times will cover? The most overlooked news stories on Election Day - Barbados Faces Invasion by Giant Snails and Duct Tape No Magical Cure for Warts, Study Finds. Fascinating.
The consequences of the election will not be covered. Only a limited few - news junkies and policy wonks - find such things fascinating.