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We Report... You Deride

Wednesday, February 04, 2004  
Reality Check

Here's a simple test for whether a story about a set of primary results is intelligent: do a CTRL-F and compare the number of times the article uses the word "delegates" (or "supporters" or "voters") to mentions of "money" (or "funds" or "contributions").

This article fails the test. So does this one

A primary is all about the benjamins. Winning delegates is nice. But if you blow through your treasury to do it-- if you have nothing left for the next races-- you're screwed.

And if your victories aren't plentiful enough (or dramatic enough) to get the media (who give you free publicity) or your contributors (who give you money) excited, you're screwed.

By that standard, John Kerry won huge, John Edwards is walking wounded and everyone else got stomped. (Unless a lot of people with money believe the population of Oklahoma is in some way representative of the rest of the country.)

Don't believe me? OK, here's a more graphic way of looking at it. Get four maps of the country (one for each candidate) and four colored pencils. Check these totals and color in every state where a candidate got more than 25% of the vote. Then draw lines that connect each state and color anything within those line in, too. The result is a map of the guy's "appeal" or "electability".

John Kerry's territory covers a huge chunk of land-- from New Hampshire to Arizona. His good finishes go as far south as Oklahoma and South Carolina and as far north as North Dakota.

John Edwards has a much narrower territory-- South Carolina to Oklahoma up to Iowa. Wesley Clark appeals to voters ranging from Oklahoma to Arizona. Howard Dean has locked up the area from New Hampshire to Washington DC.

Right now, we can speculate on whether those boundaries are valid, because some key states haven't voted. It's not clear, for example, who really is the most electable candidate in the Great Lakes/Rust Belt region... But we'll have a good clue on February 7, when the Michigan results come in.

The Times says Edwards "vowed last night to fight in Michigan, [but] is pinning his real hopes on Tennessee and Virginia next Tuesday." If so, he is either positioning himself to be the consensus VP or or really, really stupid. Even if he wins both races, he isn't adding any territory to the map.

We all know that Edwards can win the South-- there's nothing he can do there to impress anyone. The question is whether he can (as Kerry put it, in talking about himself) "win on the road." Focusing on the South actually can hurt him-- if Kerry is able to come close in one of those races, the perception that only Edwards can win back the South is gone.

(Not that I think this issue matters anyway.)

The big story is really that voter perception of Kerry's electability is still there. So far, nothing I said last week seems to have evaporated yet. It's still Kerry's race to lose.

1:24 PM

Tuesday, February 03, 2004  
MTV's Freak Show

I hope Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake end up in jail for this.

They could, you know. All it takes is an ambitious Assistant DA in a bucolic county (or parish, which might be more likely) in a crimson-red state. Add an angry judge and an outraged jury-- to the point where they're willing to endorse broad interpretations of a few legal terms-- and you have convictions for public indecency or lewd and lascivious conduct or conspiracy to put on an obscene exhibition.

At the very least, two immature, untalented idiots could be compelled to spend weeks in Utah, Indiana or Central Louisiana, where they would be required to endure extensive discovery, abusive cross-examination, stifling media scrutiny and withering contempt from the locals. And the cost of the legal defense (counting the civil suits for deliberate attempts to corrupt all the minors watching) could easily run into millions.

Viacom, which enabled the conduct, could be looking at a fine of $27,500 per affiliate. And even if we generously assume they didn't know exactly what would happen, they did approve the broadcast of an interracial couple singing a sexually suggestive song, with erotic dancing and groping, which isn't exactly family entertainment. It'd be hard to find the smoking gun that would allow the maximum penalty. But the legal bills should be a pretty good punishment. And deservedly so.

Why is a first amendment absolutist doing his best impression of a Baptist? Because I'm pissed, that's why. One of the exasperating things about being a Democrat is having to take bullets for the people who contribute absolutely nothing positive to our lives, but saddle the party with negatives that are virtually impossible to defend without seeming like a wild-eyed extremist.

We'll be seeing that clip for the next ten months. It'll be the cornerstone of a "values" campaign that's used to energize the wingnut base and deflect attention away from the critical issues that our country faces. It'll be a handicap that every candidate will have to address or endure-- we support people who endorse drugs, promiscuity, criminal (or at least immature and deviate) lifestyles and abdication of fiscal and family responsibility.

All so the has-been sister of a child molester and a brain-dead boytoy can pick up some easy money by using nudity to promote their albums. And these will be the jokers who don't contribute a cent to any cause other than themslves Frightening.

12:21 AM

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