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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Working Refrigerators Found In Hell! Or, Dan Abrams Gets a Clue

Normally I don't watch Dan Abrams, whom I've referred to in private as "The Dandroid." It seemed like everytime I left the TeeVee on after "Countdown" was over, I saw Pat Buchanan's jowly, dyspeptic visage on the screen. It was too much for a gal to take, I tells ya!

But last night, the first thing I saw was a picture of Hillary Clinton, and no scary Republics in sight. Even more intriguing was the question Dan was posing: "Are the networks being too hard on Clinton?"

The segment included Lawrence O'Donnell, Laura Schwartz and Roy Sekoff - all well-known pundits, and in Mr. Sekoff's case, the editor of the influential newsblog The Huffington Post. Dan Abrams put these questions to them all: Why are you predicting the downfall of Hillary Clinton, when she is up in the polls over Obama in Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania - all states rich in delegates? Why are you not covering this race as it is - a very tight battle for delegates in which Obama's edge is slight, and perhaps non-existent after the next two weeks?

The Dandroid had discovered the Clinton Rules of Journalism. It's okay, Dan - it only took you about 16 years to realize that the networks love to stick it to the Clintons - and by extension, all Democratic frontrunners. But what about the other pundits?

Roy Sekoff's answer: "It's more fun to write vitriol than puffery." Ah, so? Then why is almost every piece on HuffPo pro-Obama and anti-Hillary? Witness this piece by Barbara Ehrenreich declaring him "unstoppable." The article contains both vitriol and puffery. Guess which candidate gets the drooling admiration?
Or should she reconfigure herself, untangle her triangulations, and attempt to appeal to the American people in some deep human way, with or without a tear or two? This, too, would take heavy lifting. Someone needs to tell her that there are better ways to signal conviction than by raising one's voice and drawing out the vowels, as in "I KNOW ..." and "I BELIEVE ..." The frozen smile has to go too, along with the metronymic nodding, which sometimes goes on long enough to suggest a placement within the autism spectrum.
Got it! Hillary is not human. She's robotic, frozen, possibly autistic. How could you vote for such a freak of nature? As Ehrenreich says:

Clinton can put forth all the policy proposals she likes - and many of them are admirable ones - but anyone can see that she's of the same generation and even one of the same families that got us into this checkmate situation in the first place.
Who cares what she'll do as President? She's part of the wrong generation. DISQUALIFIED!!!

Meanwhile, Obama gets this:
So yes, there's a powerful emotional component to Obama-mania, and not just because he's a far more inspiring speaker than his rival. We, perhaps white people especially, look to him for atonement and redemption. All of us, of whatever race, want a fresh start. That's what "change" means right now: Get us out of here!
"Atonement and redemption." And to think that people accuse Obamans of being part of a cult of personality whose followers think he is the Messiah. How utterly fantastical!

Lawrence O'Donnell's response was basically: "You're right, but it makes a better story to have Obama be a come-from-behind winner than to have Ms. Inevitability win the way we all thought she was going to." Oh, well, then, if it makes a better story, by all means, have at it! Don't let those pesky facts bug ya, Larry.

While Sekoff was lying and O'Donnell was truthfully excusing bad punditry, poor, dumb Laura Schwartz didn't understand what Dan was talking about. Exasperated at trying to drill his way through the blonde shellack on her head, Abrams tried smaller words:

"Don't you think it's ridiculous that we cover this election as if it were a sports event? This is the election for the leader of the free world, here!"

Ms. Schwartz was oblivious. "But Dan, the news is 24-7 now! We have to cover the story as it exists in the moment, and in the moment, Senator Obama has won eight in a row!" But never mind that he doesn't have enough delegates to win the nomination, and that Hillary looks strong in four out of the five next states. Somehow that part of the story doesn't exist "now."

I have to say that my husband and I were shouting "THANK YOU!" to Dan Abrams last night. It felt so good to see and hear someone calling the media pundits on their assish-ness - even if it was only a host on cable news, and even if, through disingenuousness or stupidity, the pundits refused to grasp the point.

And even better, there was no Pat Buchanan in sight.

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