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Blue Partisans Shorten The Lines

Press reaction to events in Wisconsin remains educational.  The introduction of legislation curtailing union rights and activities for most public employees in Wisconsin was first billed as a victory in disguise: a triggering event that launched the flight of the legislators and a wave of demonstrations that would stop the Republican juggernaut in its tracks.  It didn’t; the Democratic senators returned disconsolately to town and the bill became law.

But, we soon learned, that defeat itself was a victory in disguise.  Shocked and appalled by the law, public opinion was decisively recoiling away from the extremest agenda of the fanatical Gopers.  The temporary Republican legislative victory had ignited an unstoppable Democratic wave that would sweep the party to a decisive win in the recall elections and go on to sweep the nation.  The wicked, clueless GOP had overstepped; now the great Democratic fightback would begin.  Considered dialectically, it was a win.

Well, no.  The fightback fizzled and GOP kept its grip on the state senate.  The New York Times was unfazed.  Considered even more dialectically, argued the paper of record, the Wisconsin re-defeat is really an extraordinary victory: it shows the strength of the movement away from Walker and his cronies and makes Walker’s own defeat in a recall election dead certain.  Like the Germans announcing the retreat from Warsaw, the Times described the second defeat in Wisconsin as a success: Democrats shortened their lines.

The lines are still getting shorter.  The intensification of anti-Walker sentiment so visible to the keen dialectitians at the Times somehow escaped the pollsters; on the whole Wisconsin voters seem pretty pleased with the way the recall worked out, and the odds now seem to favor Governor Walker serving out his term.

When PPP [Public Policy Polling] last polled the question in May, Wisconsinites narrowly favored booting Walker from office before his current term is up, with 50% for it and 47% against it.  Now that margin has reversed (47-50).  Republicans, already almost unanimously against a recall, are now even more so (8% in favor and 89% opposed three months ago, and 6-94 now). On top of that, those in the middle of the fray, independents, have moved from 50-47 for a recall, just like the overall electorate, to 46-50 against.

More:

On top of that, voters are not particularly upset with last week’s recall election results. 43% are happy with the outcomes, and 39% are unhappy.

As PPP’s Tom Jensen told Talking Points Memo:

“I think there’s a certain segment of voters in Wisconsin — somewhere around 10% of the population — that is generally opposed to the concept of recalls regardless of how they feel about how things are going in the state. We’ve seen that in the State Senate recalls so far- the polls have universally moved in the closing days in favor of the incumbents, both Democratic and Republican. When folks get off the fence they’re tending to vote anti-recall.”

Three bouts of failure described by much of the mainstream press as three approaching triumphs for the blue model agenda: it begins to look like a pattern.

To the extent that they think about it — as opposed to simply letting their little lights artlessly shine — liberal journalists seem to think that acting like cheerleaders strengthens their team.  It doesn’t.  That more conservative candidates and causes face hostile media scrutiny that liberal lions don’t makes the conservatives tougher and more battle tested.  It can ground their political calculations more securely in reality; if there are any gaping flaws in conservative arguments, programs or personnel, they can be reasonably sure that a vigilant mainstream media will point them out in great and loving detail.

This is not always a blessing, but surprisingly often, it is.  More hostile media scrutiny would have convinced Senator John Kerry that his Vietnam record could not anchor his presidential campaign.  It would have made then Vice President Gore much more aware of what a liability it is that so many voters heard him as condescending and elitist.  It would have alerted President Obama to the critical flaws in the congressional porkfest loosely but inaccurately referred to as a ‘stimulus package’.  It would have let the greens know that their carbon treaty concept was an obvious flop before they wasted precious time and money on a decade long unicorn hunt.

Over and over again in modern American politics, liberals have developed “frames” and strategies for key issues that they think will shift the debate their way.  Over and over again the echo chamber of the liberal press resounds with praises of the new approach.  And over and over again liberals “unexpectedly” get sucker punched by conservative counter attacks a more critical press would have forecast as both inevitable and deadly.

Sometimes one wonders: is the liberal press secretly taking the Koch brothers’ money?

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  • Kenny

    Exactly right, Mr. Mead. The liberal mainstream media makes the Democrats lulls the Democrats to sleep and thus makes them unprepared to face reality.

    A wise leaders knows that the greatest danger to him is to be surrounded by nothing but [,,,] sycophants. But who said the Democrats are wise? Not me.

  • Maddog

    In this post I suspect you have determined the root cause for the crack-up of the Blue State Model. However I don’t think your analysis of precisely what is happening is correct. This statement is revealing, “[t]o the extent that they think about it — as opposed to simply letting their little lights artlessly shine — liberal journalists seem to think that acting like cheerleaders strengthens their team.” You are saying that the problem is conscious, deceptive cheerleading.

    In part you are correct that some of the reaction to these events is conscious. But I suspect in major part it is unconscious. It is the unconscious aspect that one needs to focus on to understand what is driving the Blue State Crack-up you so presciently describe in your posts.

    In the book When Prophecy Fails, by Festinger, Reicken and Schachter, the authors attempt to uncover why people continue to believe Adventist or end-of-the-earth prophecies after the prophecy has proven wrong. The authors call this the disconfirmation bias.

    For our purposes why is not important only that humans have a strong disconfirmation bias and it overrides the rational. It appears to a great extent the left cannot accept that their beliefs are being disconfirmed and so resort to ever more and greater rationalizations , as the authors show this process ends and usually suddenly and catastrophically.

    The combination of the disconfirmation bias and the intentional need to support their ideological cause make the problem even worse.

    It has been years since I read When Prophecy Fails and it appears it is time for a reread.

    Thank you for the time you put into these posts. It has been time well spent for me and myriad others.

    Mark Sherman

  • Jim.

    It’s likely that everything that the Left has been pushing for during the Obama administration — CO2 regulation, stimulus, Libyan UN adventures, etc — will be tainted by its association with these dismal years.

    If Bush put this country into a dive, Obama has certainly run it into the ground. American recessions don’t take this long to recover. Washington’s current crop of policies are hurting us, not helping us.

  • Jack

    Rule number one in lying:

    When caught in a lie, lie again.

    It works with weak willed people who are comfortable. Take inflation… the official measure of inflation for the US govt does not take into account food or gas price increases. And the MSM isn’t bothering to report how this hurts average people…and so when consumer confidence falls it is unexpected.

    It is a similar theme. The MSM is treating Obama as though he is a special needs kid…as though the most important thing is to maintain a high level of self-esteem. Yet when it comes to the crunch, results matter….and Democratic results suck. Just look at Detroit or Illinois.

  • Richard

    Never as eloquently as you have been, the same ideas occurred to me when I stopped being part of the Democrat’s karma. The media are like Sir Robin’s minstrels in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail only they don’t change their tune. They keep singing the Democrats praises after they have clearly failed to produce. It would have been much smarter with Obama, for example, for the media to say we want to see the birth cert, the grades, the whole 9 yards and either deal with it or we’ll assume the worst. If I were still in politics and working for a candidate, I would tell him I want to know all the dirt and if you lie to me I’m walking. That’s the only way you get good candidates and win elections.

  • Bri

    A liberal introspective, how odd. Back to Reality.

    Dear President Downgrade:

    Will you please put on a red wig, floppy shoes and a red nose, because a leader should dress to impress his constituency.

    Yours truly,
    America

  • dave schutz

    In Spandau, his interrogator asked Speer how he knew the Reich was losing. Speer said, well, ‘the glorious victories of the Fatherland came ever closer to Berlin’.

  • Caleb Herod

    Also known as the Taranto Principle.

  • Tlaloc

    It’s hard to regard the recall effort as a failure for the dems, unless you choose to compare it to what they might have won. What they did win was to remove two sitting GOP senators and keep all of their own. Was it enough to tip the senate? No. But the GOP now has a one vote majority, and their losses occured outside of the normal cycle of elections. Dems can honestly say that the GOP overreached so far that the people of Wisconsin demanded they be removed mid-term.

    In other words saying the dems didn’t win is akin to saying “ha ha, you only got a *silver* at the olympics.”

  • Scott

    Academic scholars have been conducting research for decades showing American journalists overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

    http://www.mrc.org/biasbasics/biasbasics3.asp

    The journalists say, “Yeah, so what? It doesn’t mean we are biased in our reporting.”

    Except that they are. Why did Dan Rather and his 60 Minutes producer deliberately wait to “break” the false story about President Bush’s National Guard service until a few weeks before the 2004 elections? Set aside completely the documents Rather relied on were fraudulent. Even if he had a good faith belief the docs were authentic, he and his producers deliberately buried the story and didn’t “break” it until they concluded it would do the most political damage to President Bush’s re-election prospects.

    And a couple of months prior to RatherGate, why did a rogue Army Reserve unit in Iraq that was solely responsible for the abuse of POWs at Abu Ghraib, demand 47 front page, A-1, mostly above-the-fold stories in the New York Times? The world class journalists at the NYT couldn’t tell the story in 10 front page articles? Or 15?, or even 20? No, it took 47 tries to tell the story. In many of those stories, they strongly inferred that the soldiers had acted on orders from the Defense Department or someone in the highest echelons in the military chain of command. But when the facts emerged during the hearings of the abuse, testimony revealed that no high ranking military officers or civilians in the Defense Department had authorized the abuse. So, after having strongly inferred for several weeks that the soldiers were acting on orders from high above, when the facts emerged that was not the case. The Defense Dept. and high ranking commanders knew nothing about the abuse. That was big news, right? Wrong. The New York Times chose to publish it in a Saturday edition on page 7. I cancelled my nearly 15 year subscription to the NYT shortly thereafter.

    I’ve long said if you want honest reporting of American politics, you have to read the U.K. Telegraph. It’s Op-Eds are conservative, but the hard news reporting strikes me as far more objective and unbiased than most U.S. papers.

  • http://wethepeopleblog,net Tom

    Amen, Mr. Mead! And it doesn’t stop at campaigns. Governance is impossible when your primary source of intel – the media – are a pack of sycophants telling you what they think you want to hear instead of the truth.

    For years, I’ve compared the Democrats to the ancien regime, about whom Tallyrand said “they forget nothing and they learn nothing.” A perfect description of what the media bubble does to the Democrats. Would GW have ordered the surge if The New York Times told him everyday how great things were going in Iraq?

  • Ben

    Mr. Mead,

    You did not need to stop there. Already the MSM is saying a Rick Perry could never get elected in America. They are guffawing at how wise President Obama is to actually promote his candidacy as he seeks to weed out Romney (the only real opponent to Mr. Obama). We will see how this little fantasy plays out next November.

  • http://canadiancincinnatus.typepad.com Canadian Cincinnatus

    This is also why Republican attack ads are so much more effective than Democrat attack ads. The information that Republican ads contain comes like a bolt from the blue to many voters. When the evening news is just one long Democrat attack ad, the actual ads, when they do come, just contain old news.

  • Ralph Whitehead, Jr.

    As a reader of Mortal Splendor, Special Providence, and Power, Terror, Peace and War, I take your work seriously and have paid close attention to what you have written on Via Meadia, notably about what you call the Blue Model. With respect to evidence that you cite in”Blue Partisans Shorten the Lines,” please allow me to note the obvious: Because the margin of error for the entire sample in those two polls of Wisconsin is plus or minus 3.4 points, and because the margins of error for the subgroups, such as Republicans and independents is even larger, there is no statistically significant difference between the two sets of findings. To be sure, these findings don’t show Scott Walker losing ground. But neither do they show him gaining it. What these findings tell us is that his levels of support and opposition in August are what they were in May.

  • Noblesse Oblige

    It is not an oversimplifcation to say that liberals just do not have any ideas on their side; all the ideas are on the conservative side. Ideas are powerful; that is why the conservatives are winning.

  • Captain Kirk

    There is a difference between claiming the moral high ground (aka social justice) and knowing the truth. The truth has a way of bringing liberty! Liberals think they care about the truth but really just care about their agenda, their dream. Progressives have bought into the fallicy of a ‘man-made utopia’, and coupled it with a methodology where ‘the ends justify the means’. So instead of identifying what works, they look for a path to their ‘Star Trekian Dream’. Hence all the obsession with electric cars, windmills, universal health care, high speed trains, re-distribution of wealth…all in pursuit of their ideal of what the world should be instead of realizing what it is!

  • Rich

    Some of the most committed liberals that I know are also firm believers in “the Force of History”. They are convinced that societies evolve in a particular way,and that therefore their ideas will, indeed must, prevail – because that’s just the way the world works. Since they already know the Truth, they don’t need to examine the actual evidence.

  • Mikeyg

    The liberal MSM knows what every marketing director knows: that a certain percentage of the public is swayed by perceptions of popularity in the absence of direct information. Think about why car companies, sodas, restaurant chains all love to boast that they’re “best-selling”, “rated best”, etc. It works.

    But the distinction made in presidential politics rather than selling consumer products is that in any president’s reelection campaign just about everyone has directly experienced the record of the incumbent. And that direct information is not as easily swayed by popularity boasts. GM’s claim of being rated “best quality” won’t mean much if your GM car was a lemon.

    The MSM will continue to act as cheerleader for unpopular policies and politicians. That strategy will continue to work with the perpetually ignorant who vote. But after four years of direct life’s experience there’s not enough of them to matter. That’s why Obama and the MSM know their only prayer is to savage the eventual Republican nominee.

  • Tom Kinney

    Great piece of spot-on analysis.

    Our local NBC affiliate, Ch. 15, just reported a windfall of monies “suddenly” available to the Madison Metropolitan School District and attributed it to a slick Willie liberal who just ran for and overwhelmingly won Dane County Executive. These monies, however, almost certainly came from Gov. Walker’s demand that Madison’s union teachers pay a modest percent of their paychecks for their own healthcare–that they get for life–and pensions–that they get for life and start at anywhere from $50K per annum and up. And begin eligibility at age 55.

    Further, the Chicago Tribute recently editorialized on a similar windfall of monies available to the Appleton School District as reported by the Appleton Post-Crescent. Appleton wasn’t apparently adverse to giving credit where due, however. Appleton (hometown of Willem Defoe, Joe McCarthy, Fred MacMurray, and Harry Houdini–how’s that for a bizzaro resume? but typically Wisconsin!) saw nearly $1 million due to Walker’s adroit monetary jujitsu (against great odds) and the district was able to spend it wisely and give due credit to its source.

    My closest friends and I wrote and edited for years at Madison’s pseudo-underground (really an entertainment weekly that has been very profitable) and made next to nothing as it spewed out an odd mix of cool reviews, often decent writing, and in more recent years, excessively rancid leftist nonsense. My biggest earning year at this paragon of “worker equality” was $1500 in 1982 when I worked my butt off for it, while at my day job I made minimum wage (then $3.80 per hour) writing and editing a local small town weekly. I wrote a column, editorialized, covered all town, village, and school district meetings, wrote the school lunch menu, obituaries, police blotter, all headlines, photo captions, did all photography, layouts and paper delivery and generally had all its bylines. All while raising a family and paying a mortgage from age 22 in 1969 to the present–just now getting there. We’re now (my friends and I) from said publication are all hardcore conservatives, but still old hippies. I don’t think we’re all that unusual these days. As the old saw goes: “when I was young and carefree, I was liberal; when I got old and acquired things I had worked for and wanted to conserve, I became a conservative.”

    As a lifelong liberal until post-9/11, I’m keenly aware of the many positive contributions made by the left, but they have been fewer and further apart in recent years. Their salad days are now long gone. It’s a dead ideology and a dying religion and anyone old enough to know better but still sentenced to live in an insanely liberal community such as Madison, as beautiful as it is, regrets at least that aspect of it.

    What’s oddest to me about the latest liberal incarnation in their years now of dotage, is this incessant demonizing of conservatives. It becomes clear when you look at some of the conservative young guns in congress. They’re more youthful than their Democrat counterparts on average, they’re well- and soft-spoken, calm, not prone to ad hominem attacks and are hard working…a bunch of virtual Boy Scouts in comparison to the heat-seeking missiles on the left like Chuck Schumer, Pelosi, ad infinitum. Good lord, watching old Sanders Levin take the congressional bully pulpit these days, with the assistance of three large format construction cranes and two industrial strength Hoyer Lifts, one is acutely aware of the aging and decaying left. The list of snarling, badly behaved liberals in congress and in the media these days goes on forever.

    Plus, allow me mention a recent comment here at Meadia. In a recent comments section was included a note by a reader who was praising the level of dialog among readers here. It’s truly the case, and Mead’s presence in the comments section–sparingly, but wholly unusual in the blogosphere or websites these days–is the reason why. That and his sensible and balanced but probing analyses. (Note a mention of Mead today in a typically fine piece by Joel Kotkin about the UK riots and US flash mobs in Forbes.)

    Greatly appreciated. Keep up the good and important work.

  • MikeB

    Good piece, but I would have liked the GOP to pick up at least 1 of the seats of the 2 this week. I think the Dems can claim a limited victory.

    On Perry, wouldn’t worry too much. My bet is Paul Ryan jumps in, and in my opinion, he’d be a lock. He appears disappointed that the current crop won’t get specific on proposals, and he’s fearless on getting specific. Should it occur, can’t wait til Barack has to debate him, sans teleprompter. It’ll be painful to see POTUS squirm on stage when he’s lost for answers. They will be the most one sided debates in history, almost laughable.

  • Ryan

    I hate you and your ilk. You are simply ugly, greedy hypocrites. Too bad there really is not a christian god, because he would have smote your type into your hell a long, long time ago.

    In the meantime I wish you cancer.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Ryan: I’m publishing your comment because generally the policy is to allow readers to throw more rotten tomatoes at me than at other targets. Directed at anyone or anything but me, this post would have gone to the great trashcan in the sky where hate posts and troll rants end up. For your future reference, however, you may find that invective is more effective when it is linked to the refutation of arguments and corrections on matters of fact. Publishing it is a subtle way of showing my readers just how foolish and hate-filled my critics look — and how thoughtful and reasonable I am. It was probably not your intention in sending this post to give me that kind of an opportunity; with less hate, more wit and better (at least some) logic, you might have made me look bad and you look good rather than the other way round.

      I’d also remind you that bad wishes have a nasty way of coming home to roost; you may in future want to wish that those with whom you disagree experience such spiritual and intellectual enlightenment that they turn from their wicked ways and join you in the defense of the truth. It is just as annoying to them as an empty cancer curse from an impotent stranger, but it leaves you looking less foolish and small.

      This response is not an invitation to an extended discussion. You have had your say and, unless you come back with some logic and a reasonable amount of civility and goodwill, we are done.

      Best,
      WRM

  • Mike

    Cue Prof. Mead’s appearance on “Best of the Web Today” in 3…2…1…

  • bill

    Liberals exude this kind of certainty because as far as they are concerned the triumph of their ideas is inevitable. Conservatives always know there will be a left, in one form or the other; liberals and progressives do not share this acceptance of the inevitable partiality of politics and its concomitant, disappointment when things do not go as planned. For liberals, a new dawn is just around the corner, when everyone realizes the stupidity and prejudice of the other side.

  • Morgan

    As a University of Michigan fan and a Republican, I cringe every time Dems are referred to as “Blue.” The red/blue meme needs to die.

  • Br’er Dan

    I like what Mark Twain said: If you don’t read the news you are uninformed. If you do read the news you are misinformed. AMAN!

  • DavisJohn San Diego

    I’m still waiting for our liberal media to vet Obama. Just think of the pain and suffering that could have been avoided if the media actually tried to vet Obama instead of falling blindly in love with him.

  • Bill

    Shhh! Mr. Mead, please don’t give away such secrets about the benefits of a liberal press! Battle tested is correct! I don’t know if it is true, but I heard the GOP was purposely avoiding “anointing” an establishment candidate because a battle tested candidate in the primaries would be stronger. A smart strategy if that is what they are doing. Having to fight to win usually generates much more successful candidates in my opinion.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    The right’s secret weapon, the leftist lamestream media COCOON! It’s so warm and comfy in there, why would they want to leave?

  • http://lesbianconservative.com LesCon

    The MSM just can’t seem to acknowledge that their blatantly biased approaches to all things progressive are back-firing. They are so blinded by their perceived omnipotentence and their dedication to the Left agenda that they can’t bring themselves to realize that their same old tired strategies are failing to win the game for their progressive team. And that’s a great advantage for our side.

    Please, dear MSM, keep up the good work–all the name-calling, all the distortions, all that ‘we know better’ snottiness, and especially all that cheerleading for the biggest progressive flop in history. We thank you.

  • EJM

    Watching the media trying to spin events is truly a sight to behold. Those who do not subscribe to their faith-based worldview can take comfort in how often they are dead wrong. Nevertheless, this is not a good situation for the country to be in. The media are supposed to report the news factually, not spin it to a desired result. Having so many our “best and brightest” perpetually self-deluded, not to mention a major political party and about half the electorate in tow to their delusions is a major factor in the hysterical and angry tone of our national politics.

  • http://www.CompellingConversations.com Eric Roth

    Thank you for this informative primer into one of many ways that ideologues, on both ends of the spectrum, can systematically deceive themselves. The NY Times, once a required, even authoritative source of daily events, has demoted itself to an upscale, liberal cheering section for Obama, diversity, and the Democrats. A more objective, critical vetting would have also helped Democrats on many other issues such urban crime, welfare, public education, and even role of religion. Instead of focusing on the actual results of liberal programs to ensure that poor and working class actually benefited, far too many liberal journalists – and far before the age of Obama, chose to self-censor and publicly hide public policy failures. Of course, a real vetting of Obama would have prevented this young, inexperienced, and tireless self-promoting politician from being nominated and elected President. Why didn’t the mainstream media express some outrage when a “democratic” candidate was caught campaigning against NAFTA in Pennsylvania – and telling the Canadian foreign minister that Obama supported NAFTA in private? How decmocratic is it to openly deceive voters? How “transparent” was the candidate, and how transparent and open has this secretive administration been?

    Please allow me end on another journalistic lowpoint has backfired on liberal journalists and Democrats. Do you remember the sudden media consensus during the nomination process that using Obama’s middle name – Hussein – was “racist” and “inappropriate”. Of course, that journalistic “truth” was “true” until President Obama “revealed” his middle while taking an oath for office and celebrated his “Islamic roots” in a much praised speech in Cairo. Remember the media spin? Obama’s speech “reset” Islamic-American relations, and a new era had dawned. Yet the wars continue – and some have even expanded – and Islamic public opinion polls show even less support for Obama than Bush. The double and triple standards never seem to end – and these delusions deceive liberal journalists the most.

  • John

    Obama is surely a victim of relentless media praise. He was literally called a god and portrayed as one on the cover of every newsweekly. He was Lincoln, FDR and Superman all rolled into one.

    And what’s worse for him is that even *he* bought into it, finally declaring that his election would command the tides. He even wanted a speech at the Brandenburg gate, as if he’d stared down the communist threat or ordered the storming of Normandy.

    It must have looked sooooo easy during the campaign, with the media ready to fellate him on an hourly basis.

    And then reality happened. And now people are waking up to find the community organizer knows nothing about running a government, and even less about free market economics.

    Four very important years wasted. Hillary must be pissed.

  • Neal Angel

    Your article has provided a totally different take-away from the current political landscape. The modern liberal media have served as equal-opportunity employers for Democrat party pols. Without a handicap, they would be unable to compete on a level playing field against conservative opponents. Like any well-intentioned welfare programs, this handicapping has actually served to dull their political skill even further, while requiring more street smarts from conservatives.

  • Sausalito Conservative

    Love the blog.

    I’ve always wondered why in a country where we have upwards of 40%+ Conservatives we have very little Conservative news media. With the advent of the internet and growth of talk radio there are more avenues and outlets, but it seems you can count the influential Conservative newspapers on one hand and the Conservative television news networks on a single appendage.

    Am I the only person that sees business opportunities here? Even if another network took half of Fox’s viewers they would still crush CNN and MSNBC. Is the problem an inability to find enough non-Liberal news people to staff another network? I joke.

  • Joe Lammers

    Great reply to Ryan, whoever he may be. Many (but not all) liberals tend to see disagreements with themselves as evidence of immorality, so such sentiments are not unusual in leftist circles. Hopefully he can learn to get a more balanced perspective for his own sake.

  • Michael Wells

    Dear Dr. Mead,
    I am so sorry to have to say this, but this article is utterly and completely beneath you. First of all, let me examine your contention that because Democrats did not take control of the Wisconsin Senate, they somehow lost the recall “battles”. This is patently absurd. As a reader pointed out, the Democrats only lost in relation to their stated goal. They took 2 Republican Senate seats, and lost none themselves, and these Republican seats were all in what should have been reliable Republican districts, especially given the supposedly “conservative” bent of the electorate given our supposed sojourn into Tea Party America. Given the rout Democrats have suffered, you should expect that expectations of Democrats would be elevated- did you not notice the same in 2010? The narrative of GOP tsunami was talked about all over the media, indeed, rather excitedly by the chattering classes. I hate to say this, but I wonder if your column would be the same given the same circumstances except that the party affiliations were switched. Lastly, in case you didn’t notice, Gov. Kasich of Ohio has already begun backtracking his championing Senate Bill 5 in a direct response to backlash against the Republican Party in Wisconsin. You can hide this fact in your column, but it simply does not adequately reflect reality.
    Lastly, your analysis of the supposed “liberal” media is absolutely disgustingly childish, and a sharp intellect such as yourself should be ashamed of writing it. I haven’t even gotten my bachelor’s degree yet and I can see the logical flaws which are rife in your post. First of all, let’s be empirical about this. What examples do you have that the media is biased against conservatives? Why would you expect corporately controlled media to offer sharp and biting critiques of the capitalist system? How is it that the Republicans have been able to dominate our political discourses during the past year? Looking at the polls of Americans, Americans overwhelmingly favor creating jobs over cutting spending, and prefer to have an approach of reigning in our deficit that includes both spending cuts and tax increases. Yet, the media has not focused on these concerns at all, and the political situation has certainly NOT reflected these priorities. If anything, the media strikes me as incredibly conservative, and getting more and more so over the years. In the American political landscape, we seem to have slightly left of center from far right policy prescriptions to choose from- hardly balanced now is it?
    However, there IS some real value to your column, and I want to acknowledge that. You are correct in that the media, and FAR too much of Western life in general, is that of paradigmatic, or ideological, frameworks. In the American media, “objective” reporting consists of blandly reporting upon two pre-agreed upon positions endorsed by the respective political parties, and it merely depends upon what set of facts and realities one subscribes to. This is, frankly, sickening. America, liberal and conservative, is a postmodern dream come true. There is no longer any objective evaluation of evidence, there is no longer any value placed upon rational and respectful discourse. Scientifically evaluating public policy would lead to uncomfortable truths for both Democrats and Republicans. I’m interested in investigating these things, but I don’t think many Americans are. What has become important is that one’s side is “right”, and that you beat the other side. What has become important is that we develop “ideologies” that transcend science. I think your post is rooted too much in this ideological context, and merely propagates the problem, but I respect you as a person, and have, and will continue to, enjoy your posts.
    Best wishes,
    Michael Wells

    • Walter Russell Mead

      You say that the Democrats ‘only lost in relation to their stated goal’. In other words, they only standard by which they failed is their own. That is exactly what failure is: when you set a goal, advertise it, go for it with everything you have == and don’t get there. That’s pretty much my key point: the Democrats have repeatedly failed to reach the goals they themselves set — and then the press, thinking it is being helpful, connives in moving the goalposts — forward in this case, to where the football actually is. Then everyone feels good about the “victory” — and doesn’t look hard and long at the reasons for the failure. Maybe the goals were wrong; maybe the strategy was wrong. Maybe it was the wrong fight or the wrong time. But until you face the facts of failure, and honestly address it, you will just keep failing. Sorry if you disagree…

  • Michael Wells

    Dear Dr. Mead,
    Thank you for your response, but I wanted to clarify my point. I think we are talking about very different things. I think you are talking about this from the point of view of Democratic politics. I am talking about it in terms of the larger context of electoral politics. If you define success as you defined, as whether or not they met their stated goal, then yes, they failed, though that does not mean that Republicans succeeded. Gains are not always clear cut, but think of it this way, the Republican majority in the Wisconsin Senate only has a majority of one, and of that membership, one Republican voted against the union stripping bill. That places those who pushed this measure in a politically precarious position. Furthermore, just again look at Kasich’s reaction in Ohio. He has suddenly reached out and retracted some of his earlier more die-hard statements. He suddenly seems more interested in working with the minority party. If you ignore partisan politics, the ramifications of what happened in the recall fight show that the Democrats did gain from the exchange. They did not gain nearly as much as they would have 30 years or so ago I don’t believe, but a failure this is not. Nationally, I don’t think these fights are significant, but in those states political environment, it showed the actual weaknesses of both parties. If I were a Democrat or a Republican, I would be equally frustrated by such a mixed outcome. My main point of contention was your characterization of the media as being liberally biased, something that I thought grossly oversimplified what the media is and what it does mechanically in our society. I really don’t think we disagree much on the Wisconsin recall battle, except that I think it is important to keep in mind that Republicans hardly look very good themselves.

  • jay

    Tlaloc says:
    August 17, 2011 at 11:44 am
    It’s hard to regard the recall effort as a failure for the dems, unless you choose to compare it to what they might have won. What they did win was to remove two sitting GOP senators and keep all of their own.

    Perhaps one needs to know the details of how the dumcrats were successful in recalling two GOP senators. One senate district is an overwhelming dumcrat district and in the other district the GOP senator did not live in the district and is going through a nasty divorce where his wife endorsed the dumcrat candidate. In the next election this district will return to the GOP column. The facts hurt.

  • Mike Wilson

    I must say I found this little gem one of the best and lovely pieces of prose to be found in a long time: of those liberal journalists who are “simply letting their little lights artlessly shine…” Oh, so wickedly sharp and cutting.

  • Spengler47

    At various times liberal or conservative ideas are ascendent. We are living in a period of conservative ascendency. The liberal media reflect the liberal ascendency of the period 1933-1969. Liberals can’t grasp that they’ve lost the ascendency and more than conservative Republicans, who were dominant before 1933, released that they were no longer ascendent in the years liberals held sway.

  • Corlyss

    Great book review on the topic of media bias in The Weekly Standard.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/party-line_582065.html

    Two authors did a scholarly article on media bias for Quarterly Journal of Economics with some pretty impressive quantitative analysis. They have turned it into a book for the average reader, which I suppose means readable sentences and absence of economic jargon. It’s titled Left Turn.

  • ryan

    I don’t care what you or your evil [bad people] think about me. I just don’t want you walking around on our planet. Be gone republican scum

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