Tag: 2010 elections

The New York Times Undermines its Narrative

The New York Times has an odd story today on campaign finance on its front page. The story argues that organizations which do not have to identify their donors are sponsoring ads that criticize candidates for office. Complaints about secrecy notwithstanding, the third paragraph of the story discloses one of the major contributors to a group and reveals his putative interests in becoming involved. It also goes into great detail about the donor, his political associates, and even meetings his associates attended and what decisions were made therein. Later parts of the story recount the already disclosed names of supporters of Karl Rove’s efforts in this cycle. True, the story does not reveal everything the reporters believe should be disclosed about donors. But the groups and their donors are hardly secret given what is revealed in the story itself.

The story also cannot get its story straight. The Times’ reporters evidently wanted to fit what they have found into a standard, “special interest” template: the organization in question - the American Future Fund - as a front for energy interests. The story also says the group has sponsored ads on general themes like too much spending,  Obamacare, and another stimulus. But the reporters are determined to see “suggestions of an energy-related agenda,” their own reporting notwithstanding. This forcing of facts into a template comes along with a recognition that the politics of energy and ethanol have become more complicated making it difficult to say what interests are actually being advanced in the American Future Fund effort.

So the story discloses, while decrying secrecy, and both asserts and denies the domination of special interests. In the end, the story holds fast to a simple, conventional theme which is then undermined by its reporting. We should admire, I guess, that the Times’ reporters were willing to undermine their own narrative. But why not just embrace complexity? They are writing the first, not the final, draft of history.

The story also reports that donors desire anonymity because they wish to avoid taking sides in political disputes in public. The story does not say why they desire to avoid taking sides. Perhaps a quick call to the Koch family or George Soros might have provided an answer to that question.

New Attack Ad Provides an Early Look at the Fall Campaign

The Jack Conway for Senator campaign has run an attack ad on The New Republic website disguised as an article about Rand Paul by one of the magazine’s interns.  The tipoff is the word “radical” which appears five times in a short article along with “eccentric,” “unconventional” and similar words. (Doesn’t TNR bother to edit the web-only stuff?) Yeah, yeah, you’re saying by the end of the article, I get it: Paul is a radical, weirdo libertarian.

The evidence so far suggests that the Conway for Senate campaign seeks to paint Paul as an extremist while Jack, of course, is a moderate who will provide plenty of pork and don’t worry about the debt. Like most Democrats, Conway is facing a tough electorate this year, and he is responding by the party’s political playbook: demonize, mobilize, and spend. He will have adequate funds to pursue that strategy along with more than a little help from affiliated outside groups like TNR.

Parts of the article provide a useful political analysis of Kentucky’s different regions, presumably provided by the Conway campaign. So the article does offer a look into how Conway thinks he can win this.

Our intern concludes that the Conway-Paul race “is suddenly a close race.” It is true that a survey at the end of June, cited by TNR, indicated an even division. But the article appeared on August 4, and three polls in July showed Paul up by 3 to 9 points, the last one having Paul over fifty percent for the first time. That most recent poll also indicated that Paul had the support of one-quarter of Democrats and two-thirds of independents in the state.

With TNR flailing around like this, the Conway campaign seems pretty desperate pretty early.

Sarah Palin Needs New Glasses

Sarah Palin has endorsed Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate in California, showing commendable charity toward a woman who gave her one of her many Bad Headline Days in September 2008 by telling an interviewer that Palin wouldn’t be qualified to run a major company. (Fiorina did add, “But you know what? That’s not what she’s running for.”)

Palin is way off base, though, when she writes:

I support Carly as she fights through a tough primary against a liberal member of the GOP who seems to bear almost no difference to Boxer, one of the most leftwing members of the Senate.

Ignoring conservative Chuck DeVore, who probably has the support of a lot of Palin fans, Palin is taking aim at frontrunning former congressman Tom Campbell. But if her aim was that far off on a moose hunt, she’d come back empty-handed. Tom Campbell is often described as a moderate Republican, and sometimes as a (moderately) libertarian Republican. But he’s certainly no liberal, and it’s just nuts to say that he’s no different from Barbara Boxer. Here are the ratings that Boxer and Campbell received from various rating organizations in 2000, the last year they were both in Congress:

Campbell Boxer
Americans for Democratic Action 20 85
Republican Liberty Caucus 79.5 16
American Conservative Union 64 4
National Taxpayers Union 73 (21st in House) 14 (73rd in Senate)
Campbell’s record isn’t perfect from either a conservative or a libertarian perspective. But anybody who can look at the respective records of Tom Campbell and Barbara Boxer and see “almost no difference” needs new glasses.