Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Josh Marshall is taking up the question of whether Gore's populism hurt him or not. His reaction is mostly ambivalence on the subject, but annoyance that the media seems to always portray him in a harsh light. Myself, I'm seeing carts put before horses here; I keep going back to the difference in reaction between those who saw Gore's performance in the first debate at the time and those who had it filtered by the media. It's safe to say that the media was incredibly hostile towards Gore in the last election, and I think Josh is right in saying that populism doesn't really fly with the modern American media.

The problem is that people like Josh are forgetting that part of the reason a president wins or loses is the dedication of the partisans and the party that supports him. Bush had a full-court press working with him; he was being backed, aided, and spun by pretty much the entirety of the right-wing partisans of the United States and whatever right wing conspiracy does exist, whereas the Democrats were (as ever) weak and divided. They did a good job getting out the vote on the day of the election, but I think one of the main reasons that Bush kept on getting good press and Gore kept on getting bad press (aside from the desire to not "beat up on the dumb guy" on the behalf of credulous journalists covering Bush and anti-intellectualism on behalf of hostile journalists covering Gore) is because everything he said was spun in his favour by legions of supporters. To use a common sports term, the right "simply wanted it more".

Besides, is everybody forgetting the massive differences in how much money being spent? I remember that those media outlets that actually paid attention to such things brought up the huge differences in financial resources on behalf of the Gore campaign vs. the Bush campaign... Bush had a metric assload more money than Gore and was willing to spend it. Sure, Gore might have had a strong economy to back him (although he couldn't take credit for it, because the right was busily saying that Congress was responsible), but Bush had a hell of a lot more factors in his favour, and he still only barely won (if he won at all.)

Josh is right in that the media seems hostile to Al, but I think he needs to think about how far back that goes, and far deep it goes. Trying to seperate critical reactions to the Gore campaign that are happening now and critical reactions to the Gore campaign that happened at the time is somewhat pointless. They're one and the same- hostile then, hostile now.

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