The Media Looks Completely Out of Touch

By Noemie Emery, Washington Examiner - November 12, 2009

Three take-away points from the national media as regards the elections last week:

President Obama endorses Creigh Deeds and Jon Corzine, embraces them, campaigns with and for them, and calls them his partners in politics. He practically moves to the state of New Jersey, lends the campaign his pollster, and, in the final days of the contest, appears with Corzine three times.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, Sarah Palin endorses Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party of New York candidate running for Congress in New York’s 23rd congressional district against the Democrat and the Republican, a woman who turns out to be to the left of the Democrat, and also to be an appalling campaigner, whose idea of what to do when reporters ask questions is to call the police.

Palin is one of six national figures to speak out for Hoffman, doesn’t campaign for or with him, and never sets foot in New York. Hoffman loses by 3 points to the Democrat, Bill Owens, (who was endorsed by the erstwhile Republican “moderate”), while Corzine, running in deep-blue New Jersey with a third-party candidate who works in his favor, loses by five points to Republican Chris Christie, and Deeds is wiped out in Virginia by an 18- point spread.

But these last two are no reflection at all on Obama, whose name, pundits assure us, was not on the ballot, while Hoffman”s loss is a slap aimed directly at Palin, which simply shows up her severe limitations, and how toxic she turned out to be.

Republicans all over the country rebel when county chairmen in New York anoint a social and fiscal liberal to run in a special House contest, throwing support to a rival who is on the Conservative Party line.

This starts a cry that the Republican Big Tent is in tatters, although the coalition that forms around the conservative - from Palin through Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, to ex-New York Gov. George Pataki, the very image of a model Northeastern moderate and who sometimes himself described as a RINO - is a sort of Big Tent in itself.

At about the same time, raises $3.6 million to fund primary challenges to Democratic senators who do not support the president’s health care reform measures, and starts a campaign to strip committee chairmanships from all those who dissent.

Only one is described as a war on dissent, a Stalinist purge, and the sign of a party in very deep trouble, while the other attempt at “suppression” gets almost no notice. Let’s try and guess which is which.

Bob McDonnell, a social and fiscal conservative, runs for governor of the state of Virginia, making no secret of his views on abortion and marriage, but emphasizing  matters of practical governance, stressing low taxes and growth.

Then the Washington Post, coming off its “macaca” assault in the 2006 midterms, unearths his 20-year-old post-graduate thesis, and starts to expound on the horrors of having a governor who would “restrict abortion,” and not extend marriage to gays.

Deeds picks this up, and pushes it hard as his signature issue, hoping to win independents and civilized voters in the suburbs. McDonnell wins in a landslide, carrying independents, the suburbs, and Northern Virginia, losing only isolated and miniscule pockets of blue.

In its defense, the Post claimed McDonnell himself didn’t make these the issue; thus conveniently ignoring the fact that it had made them the issue, and run them and its candidate into the ground.

Since the issues emerged, and they lost on them, two possible reasons are suggested: First, people are sick of culture-war haggling, and resent it coming from either direction; or second, extreme social liberalism expressed often and stridently isn’t the winner they thought.

Perhaps people who support civil unions don’t like being railed at as bigots. Perhaps the term “anti-choice” grates on a whole lot of people. Perhaps the Post helped to lose the election, thinking the universe thinks like the newsroom. This time, the newsroom was wrong.

If a pro-life candidate lost in an 18-point landslide, the Post wouldn’t have had to look far for a reason, but since the liberal lost, the newspaper wasn’t a factor. It never is, when the liberal loses. So it just doesn’t matter. At all.

Examiner columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”

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