Coakley, Schilling, Obama and Sawyer
Above the Fold
It’s a toss up as to which is worse: the news out of Massachusetts and the Supreme Court, or the way some network news broadcasts are covering these disasters. Call it a pitcher’s choice.
Let’s start with Massachusetts, where Martha Coakley will be remembered as one of the most incompetent Senate candidates of modern times. Overconfident and out-of-touch: with just six weeks between the primary and the general election, Coakley took a full week off for Christmas, according to Nagourney, Zeleny, Zernkike and Cooper writing in the Times.
The race formally ended two weeks later on January 15th, when Coakley identified legendary Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling as a Yankee fan. Is there anything more important to the average Massachusetts voter than the Red Sox? No, there is not. And a candidate trying to become the first woman ever elected to the United States Senate from Massachusetts really needed to know that.
The failure of the Democratic establishment to recognize that a disaster was brewing until it was too late to do anything about it is also a severe indictment of White House political guru Rahm Emmanuel, the DNC and the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, all of whom seem to have been asleep at the plate.
Of course, we didn’t lose just because Coakley was a terrible candidate–all those independents who voted for Obama plus a lot more switched eagerly to the Cosmo model because of the gigantic dissatisfaction with everything that is going on in Washington. Now, in the wake of the Massachusetts result, Congressional Democrats seem to be running for the hills instead of making every possible effort to pass a health care reform bill.
Having devoted most of 2009 to this effort, is there anything they could do that would do more to reinforce their reputation for incompetence than a decision to abandon health care right now?
No, there is not.
Two days later the Supreme Court weighed in with one of the most radical decisions in its history, wiping away dozens of federal & local laws and decades of precedent, with a 5 to 4 vote to give corporate America even more complete control over the government than it already enjoys.
Why didn’t the rest of us realize that this was what America needed the most right now?
And the next time you hear someone repeat the idiotic myth that liberal judges are the real “activists” in the judiciary–well, just slap them.
Here is part of Rachel Maddow’s excellent summary of the decision’s effects:
[This is] one of the most radical Supreme Court actions in years. Corporations are free to inject unregulated billions, absolutely unlimited money into the political system now. If you are a regular person who’s ever made a campaign donation before, forget about ever having to do that again. What’s the point of an individual trying to make a donation if Exxon or some other corporation can quite literally match and therefore cancel out the combined donations of every single individual donor in the nation in one check, in every year, in every state, in every race?…This ruling rolls back decades of protections against corporate interference and control of governance…I personally think it is impossible to overstate the impact of this decision on American politics.
In a scathing 29,000 word dissent, some of which he read from the bench, Justice John Paul Stevens declared that “five justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.” Stevens continued,
At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.
Given the gigantic importance of this decision to American democracy, some of us naively expected that this was the news that would lead each of the network evening news broadcasts that night.
Forget about it. Over at ABC, where Diane Sawyer is having the rockiest debut of any new anchor in memory, these were the stories deemed more important than the Supreme Court’s action at the top of the broadcast:
* A recall of Toyota automobiles
* A really, really big mudslide in California
* John Edwards’ belated acknowledgment of paternity of the daughter he had with his mistress
* Obama’s sweeping new proposal to reform the banking system
* A “pillow talk” story which apparently was enchanting the cable news networks.
For the first nine minutes of her broadcast, Sawyer managed to say nothing at all about the Supreme Court. But a little later, she did manage thirteen whole seconds to report that Nancy Pelosi had declared there were not enough votes in the House to pass the Senate version of the health care reform bill.
FCP also loved the way Sawyer and just about everyone else that night seemed to assume that when it came to judging the worthiness of Obama’s announcement that he would push for the broadest reform of the banking system since the Depression, the only thing that really mattered was the reaction of the stock market. Therefore:
Market down; proposal, bad!
This is roughly equivalent to reporting that the government is planning a new crackdown on child molestation–and then using the reaction of the nation’s most prominent child molesters to gauge the worthiness of the government’s proposal.
Except, of course, that the banks always prefer to molest adults.
Was this the most disgraceful series of “news judgements” FCP has ever witnessed on a network evening news broadcast?
Yes, it was.