Day By Day

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pennsylvania Politics -- Howard Fineman Just Doesn't Get It!

In an earlier post I referred to the "bubble" in which the MSM operates. Nobody exemplifies this alternative reality better than Howard Fineman of Newsweek. His recent column on Senator Santorum reveals his staggering ignorance of even the basics of both state and national politics.

Consider this ridiculous statement:
It’s important to understand that George W. Bush and Karl Rove never have had the goal of winning over the bulk of independent voters, let alone self-identified Democrats, on any issue—let alone an issue as controversial as the war in Iraq. Rather, the Bush-Rove aim always is to create or keep a critical mass of operational support. And that, in turn, means keeping the “base” —the Republican Party—together and in line. With both chambers of Congress in GOP hands, with the “Mainstream Media” divided into warring camps, the Bush White House can pursue its my-way-or-the-highway theory of leadership.
This is a wildly partisan and inccurate way of characterizing the political skills of a president who determinedly has occupied the middle of the political spectrum [a fact that frustrates Democrats, like Fineberg, who have consistently tried unsuccessfully to hang the "right-wing" lable on one of the least partisan presidents of recent memory]. Anyone who considers Bush to be a right-wing ideologue should talk to a few right wingers and ask their opinion of him.

That bit about the MSM being divided is ridiculous. Sure there are internecine bloodlettings at the , the WaPo, and a few other places, but this is more in the form of the pod-people identifying and ruthlessly casting out deviationists in their midst. These kerfluffles are, in other words, expressions of community solidarity rather than disarray.

Bush, unlike any Democrat since Jimmah Carter, won the presidency by attracting a majority of the voters. Only two Democrats since World War Two have achieved that level and only one (LBJ running on the wave of emotion after JFK's assassination) got a higher percentage of the vote than Dubya. If anyone is persistently outside the mainstream of American political opinion it is the Democratic Party, not Dubya. [By the way, Republicans have gotten an absolute majority of the vote seven times since WWII.] You don't win absolute majorities by "mobilizing you base."

The idea that Bush is political poison with Pennsylvania independents is just ludicrous. [I know -- I am one of those Pennsylvania independents.] It is, however, a fiction that the national Democratic Party is trying to foster. By making it, Fineman is revealing that he, not Dubya, is the partisan hack.

It is true that Santorum is playing it cagey with regard to his relations with Bush because this is a contentious and fluid situation and he is doing what every smart politician does -- try to preserve his flexibility.

A little context please. Fineman notes that Santorum is running twelve points behind Casey, but doesn't tell us that he bottomed out at eighteen points down just six weeks ago, and is making a significant comeback. He also doesn't tell us that Santorum's approval ratings have consistently hovered around 50% even during his slide in the preference polls.

The idea that Bush forced Santorum to attend the Philadelphia speech is again ridiculous and part of the way Democrats think Republicans operate. I have talked to people who are in a position to know about that sort of thing, and it just ain't so.

Read Howard's inanities here.

Sorry about the rant, but Fineman presses my buttons. He perfectly embodies the smugness, the ignorance, and the self-regard that tarnishes so much of the MSM. I find it hard to believe that anyone takes this guy seriously.

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