One of the best parts of that juicy NYT story yesterday about all the infighting in the McCain- Palin campaign was the fact that a huge chunk of the story was given over to exploring who was leaking to sniveling conservative columnist Bill Kristol—a Times columnist! It's pretty unusual for a paper to start digging on its own columnist's confidential sources, but hey, it's Bill Kristol and nobody at the Times likes him, so they just went for it. That prompted some further review by the Daily Beast, which concluded, yep, Bill Kristol is basically just a lackey for political operatives:
Today, Newsweek posted the final chapter of their Special Election Project, the annual How He Did It book they've published for each presidential campaign since 1984 (when the answer was much easier: he just ran against Walter Mondale). The reporters assigned to the special project are embargoed from those publishing in the regular magazine, so they get jucier anecdotes, more hilarious quotes, and revealing stories, all of which are then packaged and in such a way as to make the winning campaign look like a well-oiled machine and the losing campaign look like a parade of idiots. Did you read the whole thing? We did! We'll share with you the funniest bits, the important takeaway, and the already solidifying conventional wisdom. In short, this is the story of the 2008 campaign: the Hillary Clinton campaign was a stressful psychodrama, the Obama campaign was an intellectual exercise, and the McCain campaign was a ragtag bunch of misfits who stumbled into an insane family nightmare from Twin Peaks, Alaska. Let's begin with Hillary and co. Hillary The Clinton campaign was beset by the vicious infighting among assholes, basically. The biggest and dumbest asshole was chief pollster/strategist Mark Penn!
In case you didn't obsessively compare election results to his site in real time, it's worth noting that baseball stat whiz Nate Silver wholly justified his gushing press and nailed the popular vote. His prediction: 52.3 percent Obama, 46.3 percent McCain. Actuals: 52.4 percent Obama, 46.3 percent McCain. Within a tenth of a percent, bitches! Granted, there are a couple of million votes yet uncounted, but Silver has already extrapolated how those will play out, and he's still super-close. Unless you want to step to his stats?? Thought so. Silver may grow fabulously wealthy applying his battle-tested techniques to other realms, according to the Wall Street Journal:
In 1964, a group of black and white civil rights protesters attempted to integrate the pool of the Monson Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. The hotel's owner, James Brock, responded by dumping acid into the pool. That was considered reasonable. This year, the Obama campaign opened a field office in St. Augustine, the most organized effort ever by a Democratic presidential campaign to win the Republican county surrounding my hometown. Obama ended up winning Florida and the entire country, a far stronger rebuke to the James Brocks of America than Martin Luther King Jr. was ever able to deliver. Jesse Jackson, who was there when King got shot, cried hardest of all last night. The old civil rights warriors feel this election more deeply than anyone else. The irony is that the civil rights movement never could have gotten to this day itself. Before this Obama election gets too grounded in our national psyche, let's go ahead and banish the hopeful assertion that this marks the beginning of a "Post-racial" society. As has been pointed out by everyone from Tavis Smiley to TAN, we're not post-anything. Race is just as strong of a psychological factor as it ever was. Our socialization has changed, and our expectations have been moderated, but America is far, far away from being a place where people "don't see" race.
CNN has, as Barack Obama might put it, reshaped election night for the 21st Century, with holographic reporters and John King's famous, magical touchscreen. Over at Fox News, meanwhile, outgoing anchor Brit Hume is still coming to terms with basic "greenscreen" tech, the well-established technique in which a correspondent stands in front of a monochromatic background that is filled in later with special video equipment.
It's over! It's all over! Tomorrow the campaign will be done! No more caring about what crazy things John McCain and his bitchy friend said on the news, no more feeling bad for him despite yourself, no more checking 538 (sorry Nate Silver, you're obsolete now!), no more forwarded YouTube clips from your mom, or your coworker, or some lunatic internet person. Boy, if we were assholes, we'd write something about how this was "the YouTube election." But instead we will just post the YouTubes themselves, from 2004 through the never-ending primaries, through the finally ending general election. All your favorites are here! Come pal around with crying Hillary the Senator, stare deep into Mike Gravel's eyes, and don't look your opponent in the eyes, after the jump. Back in 2004, this guy named Barack Obama gave a really really good speech at the Democratic National Convention. Watch it again, if you haven't lately, because it's really good. Can you believe we're gonna elect this guy?
Has Rupert Murdoch made a terrible miscalculation? Michael Wolff thinks so! Wolff, Murdoch's newest biographer, says that the New York Post's uncharacteristically fawning Obama-centric cover today is Murdoch's way of apologizing to the future president (Obama) for the Post's endorsement of McCain. In fact, it's been widely rumored for months that Murdoch wanted the Post to endorse Obama. So what's going on here? Rupert Murdoch has always been canny about getting in good with those in power, even if they're from the party he opposes. He made nice with Tony Blair in the UK. And the Post did in fact endorse Obama over Hillary Clinton, once it was clear Obama would win. Besides that, Murdoch's pet paper the Sun in the UK pretty much deified Obama. And even Fox News managed to work out an Obama interview with Bill O'Reilly, when they weren't calling him "Osama" and such. So why didn't Rupert just get the Post to go ahead and endorse Obama in the general election? Two reason. One of those reasons is named "Sarah Palin." Murdoch flirted with her coyly, and ended up tentatively supporting her convoluted policy proposals in public. It may be that he fell in love with her personality (the same mistake McCain made), or just came to the conclusion that, dumb as she is, at least she wasn't likely to push for any more regulation of his business if she came into office when McCain keeled over. The second reason is more basic: a Post endorsement of Obama just wasn't practical. It would defeat the paper's very reason for existence, which is to be a rabid conservative voice in the midst of the liberal NYC media. So Rupert Murdoch just allowed them to endorse McCain, then set about sending every possible signal that he's willing to be friendly with Obama after he wins. Not that dumb after all.
On this election day, the cold-blooded monsters like us whose business is our nation's flow of public information are thinking not about political hope, but about hope for continued high ratings; not about political change, but about people changing the channels. (Speechwriter-ly!). What it comes down to is this: once this election's over, will the public still care about all these media outlets who've been living it up thanks to public interest in politics? Let's round up the media's nervous take on the media's future!
According to Drudge, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle have taken "more than 15 minutes to vote." Maybe they're undecided? His link goes nowhere. Ben Smith doesn't report anything about how long it took Barack Obama to vote. Meanwhile: "HILLARY POLITICKING INSIDE NY POLLING AREA, ADVOCATES FOR OBAMA, 5 FEET FROM BOOTHS... DEVELOPING..." Once again, no link! But this is really a "fuck you, too late to not vote for me" move by the Obamas. Look who else voted at their polling place:
Network news divisions got skittish about calling presidential elections following their colossally terrible performance in 2000. In case you forgot, they all called Florida for Al Gore, then uncalled it, then called it for Bush (following in the trustworthy footsteps of Fox News!), then uncalled the whole election. Their newfound prudence was rewarded in 2004 when leaked exit polls said John Kerry had the whole thing in the bag (oops). But this year the TV guys have their swagger back. Here's a CBS News executive telling the Times why California can suck it:
PRWeek got predictions about the election from 30 flacks around the country. One (1) of them predicted a McCain victory. So be sure to hire Nick Kalm of Chicago's Reputation Partners for strategic counsel on how to horribly embarrass yourself in any large, public group! "Regardless of who wins, however, the level of partisan rancor will be so high, it will make people long for the 'good old days' of Bush's second term," he says. Okay, just for that we will print his entire god damn answer below:
Last week we had a very clear piece of advice for human campaign prop Joe "Wurzelbacher" The Plumber: get to plumbing! All this hype he's getting as a McCain hack isn't worth shit except free advertising for his core business of Roto-Rooting. But Joe has failed to heed our warning, surprisingly. He's broke, and he's not afraid to complain about it on national television shows such as the respected Inside Edition! Thank god those mysterious checks that appear in his mailbox regularly are at least temporarily offsetting the freeloading Obama supporters trying to take food off his family:
Now is the time when campaign reporters file their last, wistful dispatches of this hellbound two-year horse race. There is an absolute mess of these things! They all serve to fill space on the final, news-free days of the campaign, and also to remind readers of the invaluable role that the true heroes—political reporters—play in our democracy. We've slogged through the morass of remembrances today in order to answer the meta-question that really matters: what did this campaign mean to the media? You have to remember that for a lot of reporters, today is the last gasp of glory. By the end of this week the campaign will be over, and there will be far fewer opportunities to go on TV and be "experts." There may also be far fewer opportunities to be, you know, reporters; some percentage of these people are bound to be laid off in the coming year. We already know that the LA Times will be laying off the bulk of its Washington bureau. And most ofl those plucky young embedded reporters from TV networks are preparing to be fired when this thing wraps up. Everybody wants to make sure that you know that they were on the inside. Just because you, the consumer, didn't get all the colorful anecdotes in your morning paper doesn't mean that they didn't happen. Reporters have all types of fun memories from the campaign that they would like to share with you now that the campaign is over! Most of these fall into two categories: the "God these candidates are more morally bankrupt than I could ever say outright in the pages of my tepid publication," and the (more popular) "I made friends with important people!" Some key examples of each: God these candidates are more morally bankrupt than I could ever say outright in the pages of my tepid publication Michael Scherer from Time went to some Republican retreat in Michigan where politicians "came there to speak to state party activists, serving up stump pomp while waiters in white-tie tuxedos served drunk diners with pecan-coated ice cream balls." Then he finds a regular lady who says everyone in town is not like that. He rejoices. HuffPo's Sam Stein was set upon by a gang of disgruntled Hillary supporters in a Washington bar. "And soon the denizens were letting me have a piece of their mind. 'HuffPost sucks! HuffPost sucks!' they chanted, as I bit into my now-arrived Reuben. 'Fox News, fair and balanced! Fox News, fair and balanced!'" Although he does not say so, he hates them. Marc Ambinder from the Atlantic recalls watching Obama's little daughter Sasha talking to her daddy on stage at the Democratic convention; it "was very cute, but it also revealed how staged even Obama’s campaign had become." The thought of a little girl talking to her dad now makes him want to absolutely vomit. Politics has ruined him. I made friends with important people! Wacky old Dana Milbank from the Washington Post remembers Mike Huckabee "taking reporters hunting, taking them jogging, taking them to the barber for a face massage and shave." Dana Milbank would not object to being asked to appear on Mike Huckabee's teevee show, if Mike Huckabee so chose. Ana Marie Cox from Time had fun singing karaoke with McCain campaign hacks Mark Salter and Steve Schmidt. Salter even sung Dylan tunes! Later they went back to figuring out how to oppress black people. Adam Nagourney from the Times liked nothing better than sharing his Christmas dinner with failed Hillary flack Howard Wolfson: "We were quick to discover that there aren't a lot of restaurants open in Des Moines on Christmas night (or bars, but that's another story). But what was open was sure to warm the heart of two displaced Jews from New York: A Chinese restaurant." Aw! Then they made passionate love. You see, just about everyone on the campaign trail goes a little crazy. It's classic Stockholm syndrome; trapped on buses and planes for months on end, reporters come to regard their captors as friends. Just to get a fact-free look back at the election season to fill a hole in its Week in Review section yesterday, the NYT had to turn to Frank Bruni, who's spent the entire campaign eating brains at Manhattan's finest restaurant. But they needed an outsider who could say about this godforsaken campaign, presumably with a straight face, "that we have, if anything, undervalued and even lost sight of its significance at times." Had they put Adam Nagourney on that story, the editors would have had to spend hours rewriting his knowing asides about Howard Wolfson's bewitching cologne. For the media, the campaign means life. It means purpose, and employment, and attention, and a sense of self-importance. It's an unparalleled opportunity to cast oneself as an expert with no qualifications whatsoever, and to profess to speak for millions of "real Americans" without any factual basis. In reality, campaign reporters have a far less objective view of the Presidential race than a fat, laid-off auto worker sitting on his ass playing XBox in the ugly part of Toledo. It takes a rare breed to remain sane during the ordeal. And we should salute those who do. So Joshua Green of the Atlantic, we salute you; you alone have found a moment that appropriately embodies American democracy:
Here, you see, an ad agency employee named Tor Myhren has designed a poster that asks the question: What if Barack Obama was a white dude named Chet who probably calls his girlfriend "Lovie," and John McCain was an elderly black man? I'll tell you what: McCain rallies would be much more interesting. It's a neat poster, but don't let it fall into the wrong hands (the hands of South Carolina). Larger version after the jump? Okay:
Neocons the nation over got a little thrill up their legs this spring, when News Corporation overlord Rupert Murdoch said he might uncage the editorial-page pitbulls at his Wall Street Journal to issue presidential endorsements for the first time since Herbert Hoover was president (!). Sure, newspaper endorsements are useless in presidential races, but the Journal's frenzied rantings would have been kind of fun to read, assuming they did not give you rabies. But when the Journal issued its big McCain editorial this weekend, it was just all, "Meh, he's OK."
John McCain was reasonably funny on Saturday Night Live last night, but the show's most entertaining moments came during Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impression in his opening sketch. One was a joke about Palin's $150,000 wardrobe, the other about how she wants to run in 2012. It's funny because Palin's a terrible, out-of-control pick of a running mate and because McCain is broke and doomed. Ha.... ha? In the attached clip, McCain says the SNL gig was to "humanize" him with people who don't watch Meet The Press, but instead it's already being read as a "big... 'fuck you'" to Palin. Credit should probably go to Fey: She's a charmer but will most definitely cut you. Sort of like Palin. Sketch highlights are after the jump.
Presidential elections aren't just about the candidates; they're about all the random crazy people only tangentially related to the candidates and their campaigns, the ones who are hyped into momentary superstardom by political reporters desperate for storylines. Or by the candidates themselves, desperate to deflect attention. The question for these random people is, how to capitalize on this brief and undeserved moment of fame? Joe the Plumber is determined to become a country music star! And he's just one of multitudes. We're here to help, fame whores! After the jump, we tell the incidental stars of this godforsaken election cycle what they should do with their lives after November 4, so that they may not be forgotten:
A media pool report on Barack Obama's Daily Show taping indicated he handled the appearance with his usual calm rationality and didn't blow everything with an ill-advised gaffe, as nervous nellies (or anyone who has tracked Democratic presidential nominees for the past, oh, two decades) might worry he would. According to the Daily News' Mike McAuliff, the candidate (wisely!) wouldn't even indulge a joke about old people in Florida:
This is the hot new trend of late October: openly racist white people for Obama! It began with random tales of canvassers talking to voters who plainly said they were "voting for nigger." Now, this kind of amazing photo of a home in Indiana with an Obama sign and a Confederate Flag has been making the rounds in the Tumblrverse. There are more illustrative anecdotes below! Politico's Ben Smith wrote a story rounding up the stories of voters who "wouldn't want a mixed race marriage" for their children but are still voting for Obama. It featured this awesome Paul Begala quote: