Friday, July 23, 2010

Campaign 2010 - Partisanship, Polarization, Prejudice and Politics in the News Media


After the pathetic display of news media favoritism toward Barack Obama in our last election, what can we expect in the 2010 midterm election from the media? No doubt the four cardinal sins of the media will be prevalent, the partisanship, polarization, prejudice and politics we have come to expect from a media that can only see through rose colored glasses.

Expect more of the same except some of the liberal media will be inclined to attack the president and his cohorts in congress who got us into the morass we find ourselves as Obama completes his second year in office. As the public opinion of congress and Obama continue a freefall reaching levels never before seen as far as congress, with just 11% of the people having confidence in our elected officials, serious danger is on the horizon.

Encouraged by the ludicrous journalism from the mainstream and cable news media our politicians seem more than eager to jump into the mood set by the media where separating fact from fiction becomes more of a challenge every day. Rather than try to figure out who is telling the truth, the polls indicate the public thinks just about everyone in politics and the media lies, a sad commentary on two of our institutions, one elected to help people and the other that is supposed to be the watchdog for the people.

It's really no surprise this is happening, the White House set the tone early promising transparency, fairness and bi-partisanship but quickly forgetting the promise and returning to the politics of blaming Bush for all the problems, the Republicans for not agreeing with them on policy changes, and even the conservative media for questioning the big government, big spending and even bigger deficits that were a result of the Obama agenda.

In spite of the enormous majority the Democrats and Obama enjoyed, there were never quite enough votes to force his agenda down the throats of congress and he could not seem to get over being challenged every step of the way. But then what should a president expect from the minority party?

Just because his campaign was fortunate enough, thanks to the dominant media support, to hide his lack of experience as well as his choice of Washington insiders for staff though promising a new way of doing business, it was only a matter of time before the truth would become obvious.

So 18 months into his presidency Obama remains a partisan and polarizing force frustrated by lack of support and the inability to see his policies have much impact on the huge problems facing Americans. The two legislative initiatives, health care reform and financial regulation will have no impact on the nation before the election and probably minimal impact by the 2012 election as they are monster bills of over 2000 pages requiring years of drafting new regulations and neither will be fully implemented, if ever, until long after his presidency.

Thus the Democratic majority sense their own futures to be limited because of the struggling policies and agenda of the president. The success of the minority Republicans in blocking many of the priorities of the president and Democrats in the Senate in spite of their overwhelming majorities has led to bitterness and acrimony and heightened partisanship and polarization.

With the majority of the media solidly behind the president and the lingering effects of the economic and environmental disasters facing the nation, not to mention the inability to make headway in the twin wars, there is virtually no journalistic integrity leading into the elections.

Finally, the Supreme Court ruling striking down limits on campaign spending by special interests, and the huge campaign war chests already built up by the political parties and candidates, America will be drowning in a sea of negative advertising and distorted messages by the election in early November.

All signs point to huge GOP gains, perhaps even capturing control of the House and maybe even the Senate, which will lead to even more polarization after the election. This will not be a year the politicians can be proud of and may be one of the bitterest campaigns ever witnessed.

In most years the incumbents are relatively safe because of their far larger campaign funds but the Tea Party and the nasty mood of the public in not trusting politicians may alter the norm and bring about some major rebuilding of the House and Senate leadership, radical changes in committee chairmanships, and even some sweeping post election investigations should the Republicans gain control of either branch of the congress.

GOP women, thanks in some degree to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, are poised for a historic election as there are 82 Republican women running for the House, 12 for the Senate and 10 for governorships. Look for the women to lead any Republican avalanche in the elections.

Adding to the GOP edge is the loss of independent support for the Democrats and the alienation of the Democratic base by the president meaning all the traditional special interests that support Democrats are frustrated by the lack of progress the president and congress have made on their behalf. Such a lukewarm attitude by the base means smaller Democratic turnouts on election day.

As for the public, they would be better off turning off the television, at least the network news and cable news programs, from September until after the election November 2. I cannot image finding much truth in the reporting nor much sanity in the campaign commercials. You might as well take the fall off from the Internet as well because the Internet search engines, social web sites and information sites will be inundated with campaign spam.

Whatever you do, do not take the media or politicians seriously as you will most likely be disappointed when their promises fail to materialize. That would be consistent with the election results in 2006 and 2008 so no sense getting all worked up for nothing.

Ignore the campaign shenanigans and enjoy the fall football because it might take your mind off the struggling economy. We do not need any more controversy in our lives, any more disappointment in our leaders, any more frustration in our stagnation and any more negativity in our heads.


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