Senatorial candidate/incumbent Dean Heller (R-NV) was pleased to tweet Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed. Not that the confirmation was a major surprise. The Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans didn’t want to investigate his background, the White House didn’t want to investigate his background, the Chief Justice sat on complaints arising from his background [WaPo] and the pundit class was ever so pleased to have a “dramatic” confirmation to cover. There were other elements which should have come as no surprise either.
The newspapers and broadcast media played along with the “controversy.” Was it “he said, she said?” What were women thinking? What were Trump-Women thinking? Was he going to be the swing vote on challenges to Roe v. Wade? Not too much ink and precious few pixels were expended describing his position on workers’ rights, on environmental regulations, on human rights, on much of anything other than the abortion issue. Yawn. Those more complex issues require deeper reporting and far more depth in explication and they don’t sell advertising. Once more we’re reminded that the general public is not the first audience for television and print media business operations — it’s the advertisers.
Therefore, why would anyone be surprised the media aired and printed GOP bombast about “paid protesters,” and “mobs” of angry people? There has always been a double standard at work in this realm. The Status Quo is male, business ownership oriented, quaffs its scotch and water or sipping whiskey beside polished bars and inside elegant doors, and buys advertising — or knows someone who does. The cameras will follow the freest spirit clad in the most outrageous costuming for a protest occasion, while those dressed more conservatively aren’t often in the frame because they don’t “tell the story.” Or, at least not the story the advertisers want to tell.
Women have known since the era of the suffragettes that men are “passionate,” while women are “hysterical and emotional.” If a person isn’t sure about this take another look at Serena Williams’ protest of an official’s call which may very well have cost her a championship match. Women have known all along theirs is not the story the Status Quo wants in the headlines above the fold, or leading the broadcast. The numbers of women who remember a time when all the ‘shelter’ magazines advised them to give up their jobs so returning soldiers could be assured of employment and a comfortable ‘nest’ at home are dwindling, but the memory is still within a life span.
Viewers watch marching neo-nazis with tiki torches, chanting “Blood and Soil,” while sporting their tidy white polo shirts and khaki trousers. Gee, they don’t give the general impression of an “angry mob.” It’s only when the cameras move closer to the faces that the hate is visible. Compare the visual to the preferred camera target in a contemporary protest. Once the march leaders are shown the cameras seek out the most eye-catching characters. They usually don’t have that white-washed polo shirt look. They are often students who don’t own more than one suit, if that, and certainly don’t want to risk getting really good clothing messed up during the inevitable police action which could ensue. So, it’s jeans and T-shirts/jackets compared on screen to polo shirts and khakis. No matter the jeans and T’s are defending 1st Amendment rights by exercising them, as the khaki klan seeks to impose white supremacy on a diverse country. But, what about “the men?”
Once more the media allows the big players to frame the game. If the #MeToo movement has gathered support and seems to be adding adherents and allies, then what might the Status Quo do to counter? This week was a classic. Elite, rich, elderly white males stood before us crying (and whining) about men being the victims of modernity. However, this whine has been boiling for a long time. Consider the continuous complaints of the Rush Limbaugh’s of the airwaves with their moaning about ‘feminazis” and how a real American guy can’t swat Mary Jane’s fanny when she steps into the garage — how a real man can’t wolf whistle at all the Mary Jane’s who have to walk past a construction site — how real men can’t catch a break because of all the women in the workplace who stifle the man’s competitive spirit. Of course, real men don’t feel the need to swat Mary Jane’s fanny in the garage; they don’t need to wolf whistle; and they control most of the management positions in corporate America. This isn’t news.
When all else fails the right can be assured the old anti-Semitic ploys will work. If all the canned ham look-a-likes (Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, etc) don’t manage to put a major dent in the image of protesters who don’t care for sexism and misogyny, there’s always the “paid protester” line… in this case George Soros who makes a convenient stand-in for the old anti-Rothchild propaganda of an earlier era. The old double standard works here as well. The Tea Partiers were “Real America.” The Occupy Wall Street protesters must have been paid. The contemporary protesters, mostly women last week, must surely have been paid — according to the elite, rich, white, males who celebrated ignoring them.
Will this, the press asked, cause a closer horse race in the mid-terms? There is absolutely nothing the press seems to like more than a horse race, a sporting event, anything which will allow the punditry to pontificate on sports cliches like “momentum.” Spare me. All the press has to work with are general, national or statewide, polling. It does not have access to internal, private, number crunching performed on behalf of the campaigns themselves. Most individuals who have been “in politics” for more than a school committee race know the truth of the O’Neill Maxim: All politics is local.
Besides the “big” stuff the cable channels like to cover, there are better questions which they can’t answer because they just flat out don’t have the resources to do so. For example, they don’t have much of a handle on “candidate fit,” or how the specific candidate fits the local electorate. They don’t have access to local politically active organizations which do phone banks, walks, and other services for campaigns. Nor do they have a way to gauge the effectiveness of local politically related leadership in social and other organizations. The “media” may have a 35K view of a national issue, but there’s plenty of cloud cover before it sees what is going on in Ward 4 of Congressional District 3’s race. Not that we should ignore the media reportage, but we do need to be cognizant of how limited it is.
There’s the post hoc ergo procter hoc problem. Even after an election the media may proclaim that some national issue had “an effect,” while underneath that “effect” may very well be the fact that Candidate X launched a full throat-ed ad buy, along with a deluge of phone bankers, combined with a legion of precinct walkers in the last week.
Thus, for those who have survived another Infrastructure Week of the divisive, deflective, dumpster disaster which is the Trump Era, there are mid-term elections which will be determined by who votes for whom.
Who has the best get out the vote plan? Who executes that plan best?
Who has the better candidate who best fits the district or state? Who executes the campaign best?
Who just flat out works harder to get in office or stay that way? Who didn’t let the Outrage du Jour distract them from campaigning on issues near and dear to their constituents hearts — regardless of the media tendencies, press proclivities, and advertisers demands. Who kept their eyes on the prize when others were distracted by double standards and double vision?
When we vote we win. That’s all there is to it.