Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Professional political commentators help voters to express their political views, enabling a television audience to understand those voters' views. 

This from speakingcorpse:
After two-plus hours in Toledo, it became apparent that Howard Dean had impressed Democrats as a man willing, able and even eager to make a strong case against the Republican president and his policies. But they were not sure exactly what the Vermonter is for.
This is the conclusion drawn at the end of this CNN article.

Why? Well, of course, we all know that Dean's campaign is based on anger, on NEGATIVE energy, and he has not yet taken a POSITIVE stand on a given issue. For example, Dean was AGAINST the Iraq war, but he hasn't yet come out IN FAVOR of any wars. Until he positively advocates military action, he will not have altered his essentially negative stance.

But in point of fact, Dean's negativity was not cited in this article as the reason why voters don't seem to know what he "is for." This conclusion is instead based upon a very interesting focus group of 12 Ohio and Michigan voters.

In the group, voters were asked with which of the Democrats they would want to endure being taken hostage by terrorists (Clark); which Democrat they would allow to serve as the guardian of their children (Lieberman); and which of the Democrats they would want to as their trial lawyer (Edwards).

[Blicero adds: That's interesting, because you know Edwards was a trial lawyer in real life. In fact, he was the trial lawyer responsible for getting these good voters fired from their jobs, since their good employers had to spend all their hard-earned money settling those frivolous asbestos claims, and such.]

Strangely, most Democrats did not mention Dean first in response to these fascinating questions. (The group leaders did not ask voters which Democrat they would want to perform an appendectomy. If I were asked, I would request Dean for the surgery, Clark for the hostage crisis, Edwards for the trial--but certainly not Lieberman for the baby-sitting. Probably not Dean either. Probably Dick Gephardt.)

[Blicero adds: But if it was a botched appendectomy and you had to have a death, you really might want Lieberman on hand for that. Joe Lieberman is on close terms with the "Judeo-Christian" God, whereas (as at least one important political expert has noted) Dean suffers from a seemingly incorrigible "secularism" (that last word is verbatim; I'm now going to piss myself and vomit on my desk) which could well prove to be a liability in the election.]

As you'll see when you read the article published today on the CNN website, careful scrutiny of this complex and beguiling and highly provocative study suggests--via an unarticulated yet compelling interpretive leap--that Democrats aren't sure what Dean "is for."

Dawkins adds:

Uh, speakingcorpse?

I think your problem is that you fail to realize that the author of the piece, Mark Shields, is a "nationally known columnist and commentator" and "the moderator of CNN's The Capital Gang."

So, are you trying to somehow argue that Mark Shields does not know what Americans think about Howard Dean better than they do?

Of course, though, you are right.

This article perfectly illustrates how sharp the average American Democrat-leaning voter is, and how utterly stupid (not to mention smug and patronizing) bullshit artists like Mark Shields are.

(Obviously, if I needed to pick someone from the cable TV pundit world to babysit my children for a year I'd pick Shields well before, say, Bob Novak, but this doesn't mitigate the fact that Shields is, in his own right, full of shit.)

[Blicero adds: That's not a condemnation of Shields' character (in my view); Shields is basically a good man; it's just that his career choice has mandated that he eat large quantities of shit on a daily basis--and this is simply the obvious physical outcome of that career/lifestyle choice.]

The respondents in the "focus group" are on target when permitted to discuss their impressions of Dean in an open-ended fashion (that is, with as little Mark Shields interference as possible).
Ray Mack, a 65-year-old retired nurse and independent, admires the fact that the outsider-turned-front-runner "hasn't backed down one bit. ... He hasn't been devoured by the Washington circle, yet."

Yet, Mack's colleagues, predictably, unfortunately, begin to sound a bit stupider when -- surprise -- they are forced (by "respected," yet somehow still incredibly patronizing and stupid, pollster Peter Hart) to respond to some very stupid questions. ("To be your negotiator, to help you get out of a hostage situation, when you are being held unfairly in a foreign prison?")

In Shield's distillation, "these Ohio-Michigan voters were drawn to Howard Dean's direct, even combative, style," (that is, when they were allowed to express their own views freely), yet "the evening conducted by... Hart and sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania" revealed that "Dean has real distance to go before making the final sale."

That is, when voters respond candidly, in their own words on their own terms, to what Dean has communicated directly to them... Dean's looking good.

Yet, when a "nationally known columnist and commentator" (Shields) and a "respected pollster" (Hart) jump into the fray, Dean's suddenly not looking so strong at all.

And a real story emerges!

[Blicero concludes: Haven't you all heard that the terror threat level has been elevated to orange?]


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