Thursday, October 09, 2008

My Other Favorite Race

I haven't blogged about it much, and I hope this comes across the way I mean it to, but my favorite political race to casually watch right now is Al Franken's race for Norm Coleman's seat out in Minnesota. I like Franken, and I like the sort of daring choices involved in him getting this far. I also feel like somehow I link him with fellow Midwest comedian poet Garrison Keillor. Regardless of the why behind my finding this race so compelling, frankly it just is.

Background for anyone unfamiliar is that Coleman took over for Paul Wellstone, a wildly popular progressive two-term Senator from Minnesota who died tragically and unexpectedly in a plane crash. When Wellstone passed away his seat in the Senate was somehow passed along ot Coleman, someone who has been labled by some as a moderate Republican.

Coleman is, however, a man who has acted in many ways as a yes man for the Bush administration, and someone who rode to a second term based on his links to an administration that was popular 5+ years ago. Now Coleman is locked in a tight race with Al Franken for his seat, and Franken has overcome quite a few obstacles to get this far, and the race is tight and getting tighter. A recent development involves recent discovery of Coleman stretching ethics rules around gifts. Here's a clip from a press conference today where Coleman's press guy makes um... an ass of himself (I think that's the technical term for what you'll see below).

West Virginia in play?

We've all gotten used to the idea that Virginia is a swing state this election, but there is an even greater surprise regarding the group of states ending with "-irginia." A new poll out today shows Obama comfortably ahead in WEST Virginia. This is probably just a fluke, but if the poll is even remotely accurate this is awfully chilling news for the McCain camp.

Rabinowitz on Obama and the Media

Although I am a now a bonafide Obama supporter, I remain somewhat troubled by the treatment Obama receives in many journalistic circles. I think this has less to do with ideology than with narrative appeal. Obama is a fascinating subject: supremely charismatic, fresh, multiracial. His running for president is almost something out of a movie. My guess is magazine covers with his face sell much better than those featuring an old grumpy-gus like McCain. Whatever the cause, however, I do feel that many journalists and news outlets have made it clear that they have a horse in the race: essentially, they have become to Obama a classier version of what Fox News was to Bush.

In this light, I enjoyed reading Ms. Rabinowitz's editorial in the Wall Street Journal, a publication which is not exactly known for a politically neutral agenda. The key point:

The single constant in the eternal election remains the media, whose activist role no one will seriously dispute. To point out the prevailing (with honorable exceptions) double standard of reporting so favorable to Mr. Obama by now feels superfluous -- much like talking about the weather. The same holds true for all those reports pointing to Mr. Obama's heroic status outside the United States -- not to mention the cascade of press analyses warning that if he fails to win election, the cause will surely be racism.

I think the editorial is worth reading, although it is at times somewhat meandering and unfair. Rabbinowitz seems convinced that "liberals" spend all their time chatting with Europeans about the moral failings of the United States, while "conservatives" unfailingly love their country. However, a self-styled right-winger who can maintain a lucid thought for more than two paragraphs is a rarity, and so we should judge the article by the standards of its peers.