Saturday, February 2, 2008

Pedantic Nation, tasteless National Review

I cannot be the only one who has wondered if political candidates gain or lose votes because of endorsements. Perhaps there really are folks who wait for other people to make up their minds for them. They look to their federal or state representative or mayor, or labor union, etc., to dictate their vote.

But I can’t help but think that most people, even before the endorsements roll in, have gone a good distance toward deciding how they are going to vote – if they plan to vote at all.

This would apply even if the endorsement comes from an influential senator – Ted Kennedy, for example. Although the endorsements last month of Senator Barack Obama by Kennedy, his son U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and niece Caroline Kennedy, as the Democratic presidential nominee, may influence few voters during the primary season, they certainly were taken seriously by at least two political journals – The Nation and The National Review.

The Nation had high praise for Ted Kennedy. No one else in the history of the Senate, the lefty journal intoned, has been ``a more consistent fighter for an enlightened agenda, be it civil rights and liberty, gender equality, labor and immigrant justice, environmental protection, educational opportunity or opposing military measures.’’

Kennedy was ``a rare sane voice among the Democrats in strongly opposing the Iraq war…’’ and he endorsed Obama in part for also opposing the war. ``And let no one deny that truth,’’ The Nation quotes Kennedy as saying.

This is all to dump on Hillary Clinton for voting to authorize the war. The Nation said that Hillary would probably – only probably – be a better candidate than the Republican nominee. The Nation also excoriated her for doing less than John McCain to fight Pentagon waste and minimize the power of lobbyists. The ``war profiteers’’ have given her more money than to McCain. She gets a noticeable amount of cash from ``the bankers, Wall Street traders and other swindlers who produced our economic meltdown…’’

The point of the blog on the conservative Review’s cite is that while Obama may have the Kennedys’ endorsements, he is no Jack Kennedy (the article actually uses the cliché as its title) – at least not yet, because he hasn’t shown that he understands that ``the great question of modern history is whether free governments or coercive governments will prevail,’’ as Kennedy had comprehended.

But the Review can’t resist the temptation of indulging in reminders of Chappaquidick and Bill Clinton’s philandering. It jokes that Kennedy endorsed Obama out of jealousy. ``The Kennedys, after all, didn’t get three full years at the White House. And now Bubba and his consort, hillbillies practically, are trying to add four more years to their eight.’’

Since when did the assassination become the stuff of humor? But seriously, folks, this is a reprehensible statement.

Although The Nation blog is earnest and pedantic, it least it has the guts to lay into a candidate who stands in approximation to its political perspective. In other words, the candidate is a Democrat. The blog is also much more substantive than the Review's posting.

The National Review has bad things to say about almost every Democrat it mentions. I don’t have a problem with that, but I don’t like the way the Review says the bad things.

Maybe the Review blogger, sticking it to the ``hillbillies,’’ had more fun writing his commentary than did the Nation blogger. But – surprise – politics isn’t always about fun. We would hope it would be about substance, and responsibility.

1 comment:

Scott Brodeur said...

Dan: Are you going to be following The Nation or the National Review as your news organization on your blog this semester -- or another entity?