James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

Romney boards Con Ryan Express in desperate bid to get campaign back on track

Posted by James McPherson on August 11, 2012

So, it’s Con Ryan’s Express. For the second consecutive presidential election, Republicans will have a vice presidential candidate who is more dynamic and interesting than the guy at the head of their ticket. No wonder that in his introduction Romney called Paul Ryan “the next president of the United States.”

Unfortunately for Romney this Paul is no saint; the choice offers obvious strengths and weaknesses, along with the Palinesque risk that the presidential race will be more about the GOP’s vice presidential nominee than about anything else.

Like most people, I got it wrong, thinking Romney would likely go with Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty. I did mention Ryan almost as an afterthought, saying “Maybe Paul Ryan if he still thinks he needs to go right.” Apparently Romney is still more concerned with being viewed as a Massachusetts liberal healthcare pimp than as someone who has spent the campaign trying to hack off his left arm with his right.

The New Republic offers a quick look a quick look at what the party now officially stands for–ending Medicare and Medicaid we know them, privatization of Social Security, killing any semblance of government that works, and the biggest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to rich in U.S. history. With Ryan, you can add climate change denial and “personhood” legislation.

Faced with the likelihood of defeat, Romney’s choice–like McCain’s choice of Palin–smacks of desperation. Ryan obviously is a lot smarter than Palin (OK, so Romney’s dancing horse is smarter than Palin), but could turn out to be equally polarizing. After all, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, John McCain and probably the Koch brothers all like the choice. But so do Democrats. One of the most notable things about the selection is that for perhaps the first time Romney has managed to please both liberals and conservatives at the same time, rather than having to flip-flop to do so.

In fact, as many did with Palin, conservatives might rue the choice more than liberals do. Ryan wasn’t Grover Norquist’s pick, for example, so perhaps this is another example that Norquist is losing some of his influence with Republicans. And that might be the best thing to happen in this election season, and the most positive long-term development for the GOP.

One might wonder, if Romney is enthused about his choice, why he would make the announcement early (6 a.m. where I live) on a summer Saturday. That’s a time when politicians typically are more likely to roll out bad news than good; Friday afternoon has long been recognized as best for avoiding media attention, because most of the front-line news media won’t be back until Monday, by when news can be a bit stale. That’s why I wrote last month that Romney “should release a deluge of his tax returns on a summer Friday, perhaps during the Olympics, definitely no later than the Friday before Labor Day.”

I suspect that desperation to change the conversation from his own taxes, the fact that even sources such as Fox News and the conservative-leaning Rasmussen poll had Obama leading, and perhaps a desire to make the announcement as low-key as possible (which is Romney’s style, if not Ryan’s) all combined to lead to the decision to make the announcement when he did.

Yes, a 24-hour news cycle tempers the “dead zone” timing a bit, and yes, the selection will now be the focus of the Sunday morning news shows. But the fact is, almost no one except true political junkies–virtually all of whom probably already know whom they’ll vote for in November–watches those Sunday shows. And Romney, of all people, should know that if Americans are turning on their TVs on this summer weekend it will be to watch the Olympics. On Sunday night and Monday morning more people will be talking the closing ceremonies with Adele and the Spice Girls than about Romney and Ryan. In fact, the few Americans who know anything about Ryan may outnumber those who know he has been chosen by Romney at this point.

Like most Hail-Mary passes in football or last-second half-courts shots in basketball, the effort probably will fail to deliver a victory in November, but will give the media and serious viewers a reason to hold their breath for a bit, just in case. There’s no doubt that the race just became more interesting–within the GOP, as well as over all.

Perhaps we’ll even start having a serious media conversation about what policy might look like in a Ryan/Romney–oh, sorry, Romney/Ryan–administration, if only during the vice-presidential debate. Perhaps. But I doubt it. After all, Ryan has a pretty wife and cute kids. And he’s a Catholic engaged in a “smackdown” with nuns. And now “Saturday Night Live” will have to figure out who to portray Ryan pushing granny off a cliff. I’ll bet Tina Fey could pull if off, with the right haircut.

P.S.: If you’re too young to get the reference to “Von Ryan’s Express,” it’s a film from 1965, before Paul Ryan was born.

P.P.S: Ironically, if the Christian Right gets its way in November, for the first time ever there won’t be a Protestant president, vice president, or member of the Supreme Court.

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics, Religion, Science, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Any Portman in a storm for Romney VP?

Posted by James McPherson on July 16, 2012

In honor of Romney, the Honeymooners’ great “poloponies” scene.

OK, so I couldn’t resist the pun above (previous headlines show that I rarely can, much to my wife’s dismay)–but I do think that Ohio Sen. Rob Portman might be the best of Mitt Romney’s boring choices for running mate. Portman is so boring, in fact, that when a friend ask me a few days ago whom I thought Romney would pick, I completely forgot Portman , responding: “Maybe Tim Pawlenty as the safe (boring) pick. Maybe Marsha Blackburn or Kelly Ayotte or Susan Martinez to shake things up a bit. Maybe Paul Ryan if he still thinks he needs to go right. My pick as the one most likely to help, though I don’t know if he’d do it (or if anyone can help enough): [Mike] Huckabee.”

I haven’t paid as much attention to the VP process as I did four years ago when I recommended Sarah Palin and Joe Biden as VP picks (and no, I don’t think the campaigns were reading my blog and following my advice–if they had been, John McCain would probably still be sending me hate mail).

The New York Times reports that Romney has apparently made his choice, and may announce it this week (Same-day note: The Romney campaign denies that a decision has been made, though in Romney’s case he might have changed his mind, anyway.) The timing, Slate points out, “would give the Republican a chance to change a political conversation that is currently focused squarely on Romney’s time as head of Bain Capital.” The Times seems to think that Pawlenty will be the nominee.

Pawlenty would be no big surprise. He has been consistently overrated as a presidential candidate, the Republican equivalent of Democrat Dick Gephardt–a dull, Midwestern white guy who offends no one but whom, as the Times article suggests about Pawlenty, “lacks a fiery presence and the ability to excite a crowd.” On the other hand, an NBC piece handicapping potential candidates notes about Portman, “While ‘boring’ has an upside, it also has a downside, too. A potential Romney-Portman ticket has been dubbed ‘boredom squared.”

Though it might take some attention away from the Bain mess and other problems associated with being rich, I think naming the VP nominee this week would be a mistake for Romney. For one thing, he’s about to leave for the Olympics–and anything that connects Romney to the Olympics could be good for him. Well, perhaps anything not involving prancing ponies. But by the way, aren’t the new Olympic uniforms, made in China and boasting a prominent polo player logo, a perfect symbol for Romney’s America?

For another thing, few people are paying attention to politics right now, anyway. (That’s also why Romney should release a deluge of his tax returns on a summer Friday, perhaps during the Olympics,definitely no later than the Friday before Labor Day.) Americans have short attention spans–one reason that Portman’s previous job as George W. Bush’s budget director probably wouldn’t hurt him or Romney with the electorate. But Romney likely won’t take that chance, or go for any of the even more daring options. And it probably won’t matter, anyway.

Posted in History, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments »

New ‘gotcha’ politics — making fun of ignorant fellow Americans

Posted by James McPherson on July 7, 2012

We know that politicians say dumb things, some more than others. And one of the more troubling-but-ubiquitous parts of campaign season has long been how much the news media and political campaigns play “gotcha,” blowing out of proportion the occasional inevitable gaffes made by politicians.

Admittedly, a series of gaffes–or the inability to answer even the simplest questions–may signify something important about a candidate’s qualifications, but most slips of the tongue can be attributed to the exhaustion and distraction that naturally come with a campaign. How many of us could be “on” all the time? My students can verify that I get tongue-tied or say something dumb on a fairly regular basis.

But at least politicians know what they’re getting into. I’m becoming increasingly concerned with another apparent trend–that of trying to make our neighbors look stupid

I don’t know if Jay Leno did it first or best, but his “Jaywalking“segment may be what introduced many of us to the phenomenon of using video to point out how stupid Americans can be about their history, politics and current events. I’ve laughed at some of those segments, though they also make me uncomfortable because, like too much other American humor, they strike me as mean-spirited. (I liked Leno better in his early days, anyway, when his humor seemed more thoughtful and less sophomoric. How long is he going to keep telling Bill Clinton sex jokes?)

Not surprisingly, following the apparent popularity of Leno’s segments, others followed. Howard Stern has done it. Of course, Stern has never been one to shy away from the stupid or mean if it would draw and audience–and while I don’t believe in astrology, it is an interesting coincidence that Stern and fellow blowhard Rush Limbaugh share a birthday. Australian news media and others have also joined in the fun.

But it’s not just “professionals”: Now you can find Jaywalking-style videos everywhere on the web, making fun of either conservatives/Republicans or liberals/Democrats. Which you find funniest, if any, probably depends on your own political biases. But we should find all of them depressing–not just because so many Americans wouldn’t be able to pass a citizenship test, but also because one-sided buffoons think making fun of their fellow Americans is all in good fun, and that video of a small group of people, perhaps subjected to Breitbert-style editing, somehow represent what’s typical of an entire group.

Some say that the way we treat our politicians discourages many qualified people from running for office. I don’t think it’s in our best interest, then, to discourage through ridicule the relatively few people actually interested enough in the process to take part. We want more public participation, not less. And we can hope the participants will learn more through the process.

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Affordable Care Act and the GOP’s really big lie

Posted by James McPherson on July 2, 2012

Washington Post chart

Defeated by the Supreme Court, Republicans and their conservative allies have apparently decided that their best strategy to try to overcome the Affordable Care Act is simply to lie. Now they’re calling it the biggest tax in U.S. history. And, as you can see from the Washington Post chart above, they’re lying.

Rush Limbaugh is lying (yeah, big surprise). Sarah Palin is lying (OK, that’s expected, too). Mike Huckabee is lying (especially disgraceful for a former pastor who claims he can teach history) Sean Hannity is lying. James Pinkerton, also of Fox News, is lying. Conservative author Edward Klein is lying. The Washington Times is lying. The Daily Caller is lying. My cardboard cutout Congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is lying. House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority leader Eric Cantor and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell all lied. Alaska Tea Party loser Joe Miller is lying. Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummus is lying. California Congresswoman Mary Bono is lying. Louisiana Congressman Jeff Landry is lying. Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is lying. Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais is lying. Georgia’s Republican governor is lying. Congressional candidate Ben Quayle, son of a former vice president, is lying. Forbes apparently wants to lie, but can’t decide. New York Congressional candidate Dan Hollaran is lying. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance is lying. Naturally, conservative bloggers are lying and lying and lying and lying and lying and lying and lying and lying.

Republicans now claim that Barack Obama knowingly lied when he said the individual mandate upheld by the Supreme Court, but that’s a little tougher to prove. Not only to legal scholars disagree about whether it is a tax or not, even Mitt Romney, Obama’s 2012 challenger, apparently agrees with Obama on the issue. (Of course this is Romney, so he may disagree with himself any time now.)

We know that politicians lie, generally to get elected. But rarely do they lie as blatantly or as widely as Republicans are lying now in reaction to a Supreme Court decision. And the problem is, their supporters don’t care. As Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts wrote:

Falsehoods are harder to kill than a Hollywood zombie. Run them through with fact, and still they shamble forward, fueled by echo chamber media, ideological tribalism, cognitive dissonance, a certain imperviousness to shame, and an understanding that a lie repeated long enough, loudly enough, becomes, in the minds of those who need to believe it, truth.

That is the lesson of the birthers and truthers, of Sen. Jon Kyl’s “not intended to be a factual statement” about Planned Parenthood, of Glenn Beck’s claim that conservatives founded the Civil Rights Movement, and of pretty much every word Michele Bachmann says. It seems that not only are facts no longer important, but they are not even the point.

Or, as I noted when interviewed by the New York Times for a story about right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart: “There are no standards of fact anymore for a lot of people. We have gone from selecting sources of opinion that we agree with to selecting facts that we agree with.” Republicans clearly  hope you’ll buy their lying “facts” about health care in America.

And if you want to see how much you’ve been swayed — or simply left ignorant — about the real effects of the health care bill, you can take a simple 10-question test. I missed one, which, sadly, still made my score “better than 97% of Americans.” Sigh.

Posted in History, Legal issues, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

Demon sheep and the goat curse: Ricketty anti-Obama plan hurts GOP

Posted by James McPherson on May 17, 2012

It is fitting that Joe Ricketts is the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs. As with the last-place Cubs, Ricketts seems determined to pour his political dollars into losing. The Cubs, some say, will never overcome the “billy goat curse.”

In truth we don’t know if J.R. had anything to do with the supposed “Ricketts Plan” to use Jeremiah Wright to bring about “the defeat of Barack Hussein Obama.” Son Tom Ricketts–now in the process of trying to get $150 million in taxpayer money for stadium funding from former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel–is certainly trying to distance himself from the proposal. Joe Ricketts’ daughter, Laura, has gone much further, serving as one of Obama’s key fundraisers. Of course dear ol’ dad may end up inadvertently raising more money for Obama than Laura does.

Regardless of its origin, we know that the plan has already caused Mitt Romney and the GOP more problems than it will ever cause Obama. Even if Sean Hannity and the occasional right-wing blogger can’t see it.

We also know that earlier this week Ricketts’ PAC improved the Democrats’ chances of holding a Senate seat they were destined to lose. Though it seems unlikely that Deb Fischer will turn out to be another Christine O’Donnell or Sharron Angle, we can always hope–if only for entertainment purposes. Bob Kerrey certainly has to be happy that she won after Sarah Palin endorsed her. And who knows how far the curses of mama grizzlies or billy goats might extend?

Interestingly, one of the key players in the Ricketts PAC is “best known for attention-grabbing advertisements, including one in 2010 for the California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina that portrayed her primary opponent … as a ‘demon sheep.'” Fiorina, of course, had about as much chance of beating Barbara Boxer as the Cubs do of winning this year’s World Series. OK, any year’s World Series, but as a Seattle Mariners’ fan I try not to kick the downtrodden.

Posted in History, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Watergate’s Bernstein shaky on media history

Posted by James McPherson on July 17, 2011

  

The most recent issue of Newsweek has drawn attention mostly because of yet another overhyped article about Sarah Palin. In the article, Palin says that if she runs for the presidency, “I Can Win.”

Well, duh. One would think that every candidate who runs for president thinks she or he can win. What would you expect them to say, “Well, I expect to get my butt kicked, but I really dislike my family and so wanted to put them through the wringer”?

The question is why Newsweek feels obligated to keep doing cover stories on a failed vice-presidential candidate and half-term governor who hasn’t declared any intention of running for office again. Oh, yeah–it’s because those stories, about America’s political Lindsay Lohan, draw more readers than would more intellectual (and more useful) fare.

A prediction, for what it’s worth: I think Palin will follow the Hillary Clinton route and run for the Arizona Senate seat that Jon Kyl will vacate. No state outside of her (and my) birth state of Idaho is more suited for the inflammatory know-nothing rhetoric that a Palin candidacy is likely to bring, and she recently bought a house there. If she wins a Senate seat, she could then run for president in 2016 when a Republican probably will have a better chance of winning.

For me, the most interesting thing in this issue of Newsweek was a couple of quotes that demonstrated some historical ignorance–quote that came not from Sarah Palin, as might be expected, but from famous Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein and one of his sources.

In an article about the scandal swirling around media mogul Rupert Murdoch (a scandal that has now touched even Scotland  Yard), Bernstein writes, “[The New York Post’s] Page Six, emblematic in its carelessness about accuracy or truth or context–but oh-so-readable–became the model for the gossipization of an American Press previously resistent to even considering publishing its like.”

Really? Murdoch bought the Post in 1976, and one of the founders of the Page Six column was James Brady–who came to the Post from a supermarket tabloid, the National Star, which had been founded two years earlier to compete with the National Enquirer. The Enquirer, of course, had already been famous for that kind of sensationalism for decades.

OK, so maybe Bernstein meant the mainstream press, not supermarket tabloids. But if so, he’s still overlooking one of the most important (and infamous) periods in American media history, the Yellow Journalism period of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. The next time Bernstein is tempted to tune into a showing of “All the President’s Men,” perhaps a viewing of “Citizen Kane” would be in order, instead.

The Yellow Journalism period also is ignored with a quote from an anonymous source. Part of that quote is pulled for display type (the fault of a historically challenged editor rather than of Bernstein, though he should have known better than to use the original quote). The display type reads, “Murdoch invented a newsroom culture where you do whatever it takes to get the story.”

Reinvented it, perhaps, though I’d question even that. But we should not have famous journalists–perhaps especially those who have contributed  significantly to media history–carelessly reinventing other parts of that history.

 

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Anchors away–not aweigh–at CBS

Posted by James McPherson on March 27, 2011

Katie Couric’s time looks to be about up at CBS, with Scott Pelley–a better journalist but less of a celebrity and much cheaper–being a possible frontrunner as her replacement.

Like it matters. Quick: Name the anchors of all three traditional nightly newscasts. Now name the three craziest people on cable “news.” Chances are you had a much easier time composing the second list, even though considerable more people actually watch network newscasts than cable news, at least for now.

That may not continue, if network news–which can’t match the train-wreck entertainment value of cable news and shouldn’t even try–doesn’t figure out the seemingly obvious, that cutting back on news content actually makes news programming less relevant. Al Jazeera has figured that out, and many of those who actually care about what’s going on in the world now rely more on Al Jazeera than on the networks.

David Letterman apparently will be sad to see Couric step down, though he revealed an old-fashioned rose-colored view of American television news when he stated:

Let me tell you something, once you take the anchor chair – that’s what you do. . . . It’s not like it’s a temp gig. Look at Walter Cronkite. Look at Tom Brokaw. Look at Brian Williams. Look at Peter Jennings. Look at all these people. They get in it, they saddle up and they ride into the sunset.

Notice the biggest name that is missing–the longtime anchor of the same network that now employs  both Couric and Letterman. Dan Rather now anchors a pretty good news show buried on a network that features such illuminating programming as Mixed Martial Arts, “Drinking Made Easy” and “Girls Gone Wild.”

Williams is probably the best anchor now working–despite his occasional (and admittedly funny) forays into the likes of “Saturday Night Live“–but having started as anchor in 1996 he’s also the only one of the three who can be considered an anchor “old timer.”

Others that Letterman–and pretty much everyone else–apparently have forgotten include the brief 2006 ABC co-anchor experiment with Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff, Charles Gibson’s three-plus years after that, and Diane Sawyer, who replaced Gibson just 15 months ago.

Bob Schieffer kept Rather’s old CBS seat warm until Couric left NBC’s blockbuster morning program, “The Today Show.” Considering that Couric apparently is now considering hosting a daytime show, perhaps she  should have kept her NBC gig. And drawing her away didn’t help CBS in the evening or hurt NBC in the morning.

The most noteworthy thing about Couric’s tenure with CBS–other than possibly the interview that best demonstrated how unqualified Sarah Palin was for national office–is that she was the first woman solo anchor for one of the “big three” nightly newscasts.

The fact that Couric broke that particular gender barrier a 22 years after Geraldine Ferraro became the first female U.S. vice presidential nominee for a major party is a shameful reflection on the news business. The fact that Couric, like Sarah Palin, was more noteworthy for her celebrity than her competence, reflects poorly on all of us.

And the fact that Couric, like Ferraro and Palin, was chosen as a desperate act  to try to reverse a losing campaign, is unfortunate. Women–and all of us–deserve better treatment.

Personal note: This is the 400th post on this blog. Thanks to all of you who have read any of it, and especially to those who have offered comments.

Posted in History, Journalism, Women | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Jokers wild: Palin may fold as Trump & Bachmann deal themselves in

Posted by James McPherson on March 25, 2011

I’ve probably bragged too often about recommending Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate months before she was selected, and maybe I write too often about Palin. (In my defense–who doesn’t?)

But this seems like an appropriate time to point out that I wrote the following in January 2010, more than 14 months ago:

People keep talking about Palin as a possible 2012 Presidential candidate, but, as much as I wish that to be true, I (and others) have serious doubts. My prediction? Palin will end up as a contestant on a bad reality show … long before she ever lives in the White House.

Since then, of  course, Palin has been on a bad reality show, though her daughter was the only one who competed on one. But the chances of Palin winning the GOP nomination continue to decrease (the odds of her winning the presidency, of course, ranks slightly lower than the chance of Tina Fey becoming Barack Obama’s next secretary of state).

Fortunately for those of us who were afraid the GOP might simply produce another slate of boring candidates, Donald Trump (speaking of bad reality shows) and Michele Bachmann may ride to the rescue.

Tea Party-favorite Bachmann’s has demonstrated an appalling knowledge of U.S. history and geography (I wonder if she can see Boston Harbor from her house). And the egomaniac thrice-married Trump (like Newt and Rudy–ah, the GOP, where “family values” means “more families to value”) is scrambling to appeal to birthers and to overcome apparent previous conservative shortcomings related to gun control and abortion. He may even spend a ton of his own money doing so.

We may have some fun during Obama’s roll to re-election, after all–even if Palin doesn’t enjoy the show.

Posted in History, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sarah Palin violates American Flag Code–again

Posted by James McPherson on November 23, 2010

I haven’t seen Sarah Palin’s new reality show, and probably won’t. But I did see a commercial for it and noticed an odd thing. There’s a big American flag hanging from the deck of her home in the background of one shot, and the flag is backward.

Maybe that’s not so odd. I’ve noted previously that the “all-American” Palin doesn’t seem to know how to treat the flag.

Then today it occurred to me that I keep seeing her name and the flag as two terms that commonly bring people to my blog, so just for fun I thought I’d check to see what search terms had brought the most visitors since I launched this site in April 2008. Some of the results were, well, a bit disturbing.

My name was second on the list, though I suspect most of those people were looking for info about the Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian, the Pulitzer Prize winning short story writer, the Civil War general (who has the coolest middle name, Birdseye), or the sculptor of demons, dragons and Batman.

At the top of the list (with 1,381 views, or 58 more than my name)  is the word “flag,” which apparently takes people to my most popular post. And third, with 667 visits, is the combination phrase, “Sarah Palin bikini.” Fourth is “2012 presidential predictions,” followed by “Iraqi porn.”

Incidentally, if Palin delights liberals and appalls Republicans by choosing to mount a 2012 presidential campaign, I’m sure conservatives will be as eager to point out her patriotic shortcomings as they have been with Obama’s. Right?

Posted in Legal issues, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Election Day: A boost to Obama’s 2012 campaign

Posted by James McPherson on November 2, 2010

So how many House seats with the Democrats lose today? A record is unlikely, thanks to modern gerrymandering by both parties. The Democrats lost a record 116 House seats in 1894, exactly 20 years after the GOP lost 96.

This election is likely to be closer to the 53 the Democrats lost in 1994, the 56 they lost in 1946, or the 57 Republicans lost in 1910. And while dramatic, it’s hardly likely to be earth-shattering (despite the claims you’ll hear tonight on the cable news networks).

Keep in mind that the GOP must pick up a net of 77 seats to have the SAME 255 seats that Democrats now hold. And even if Republicans were to win EVERY Senate seat that’s open they’d have a smaller majority there than Dems do now.

In fact, the Democrats aren’t likely to lose even enough to cost them the Senate majority. I predict they’ll end up with 51 seats, perhaps one or two more if Sharron Angle and/or Joe Miller manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (though we may not know the final outcome in Alaska for a couple of weeks or more).

We’ll likely have a GOP-controlled House that can’t do much because there will be a Democratic Senate (which also won’t be able to do much) and a Democratic president who will be able to campaign against a “do-nothing Congress” in his re-election bid, as Harry Truman did in 1948. We’ll have two years of gridlock, or the parties will figure out how to work together.

Either may help Barack Obama two years from now, especially if Sarah Palin runs for president and John Boehner turns out to be the kind of House leader I expect: Think Newt Gingrich with less charisma. Come to think of it, the GOP gave us that not long ago.

Also keep in mind that a lot can happen in the next two years, as I was reminded when I came across this poll last week. Two years before Obama was elected president, 37 percent of people had “never heard of him.” In a disgusting example of American ignorance, 30 percent now say the same about Boehner.

Posted in History, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »