— Pope Francis, from this address on Thursday 16 May
— This is Judge Napolitano from an article on Fox News. Maybe the quote was taken out of context, but if something is within the president’s power wouldn’t that mean that, by definition, it is not impeachable?
Dear Sandy Hook “Truthers,”
You are exploiting the tragic deaths of twenty children. Please stop.
That is all.
— Jon Stewart
(cross-posted at robertnspicer.com)
In his book The Age of Reform historian Richard Hofstadter argues, “Third parties are like bees: once they have stung, they die.” In contemporary politics Ross Perot is the textbook example of Hofstadter’s characterization. Bob Woodward noted in his 1994 book The Agenda that Perot “elevated deficit reduction to topic A” and thus pushed the issue onto the Clinton White House agenda.
The real sting of Perot, however, was probably the one felt by Pres. George H.W. Bush who lost a lot of votes, and possibly reelection, in part because of the man. This could be why such third party candidates received little to no attention from the news media in 2012.
According to David Gillespie, author of Challengers to Duopoly, the lack of coverage for third party candidates, such as Greens and Libertarians, is nothing new. He cites an article that found that in the last three months of the 2008 election the New York Times and Washington Post published a combined 6,781 articles about John McCain and Barack Obama and a combined 66 about the four most significant third party candidates, a difference of more than 100-to-1.
The coverage is problematic not only in quantity, but also in quality.
“Even when third parties get coverage it tends to be not very complimentary coverage,” Gillespie says.
Third party candidates tend to be portrayed as “spoilers” that cost the election for one candidate. This is how Perot and Ralph Nader have both been portrayed. Gillespie says even historical accounts, such as Teddy Roosevelt swinging the 1912 election from Taft to Wilson, present third parties this way.
Spoilers, or not, third party political movements have the potential to offer some solutions to what a broad consensus sees as problems with the political system.
For one, there has been a lot of hand wringing about last year’s election being about Internet memes, attacks, lies, and trivialities. While it is too late to save 2012, 2014 and 2016 could be better, if third party candidates get some airtime they could inject new ideas into the debate.
Giving third parties a bigger footprint on the next election could also help to loosen up partisan gridlock. Gillespie says Perot had that effect during the Clinton presidency.
“The fact that Newt Gingrich was willing to work with Bill Clinton on budgetary matters was not through the goodness of either major party’s hearts. It was their responding to what they perceived as a possible challenging movement,” Gillespie says.
Pres. Obama and Speaker Boehner could probably use similar “help” with the fiscal cliff.
Whether it is about new ideas or moving beyond partisanship journalists should feel a sense of responsibility to give these candidates more media oxygen. Third parties present a challenge to the Democrats and Republicans but they also stir up new ideas and force the parties to deal with big problems.
“If you’re building your prerogatives on the public’s right to know, you have a responsibility to let them know about more than just the D and the R,” Gillespie says.
Given the behavior of the Ds and Rs over the last few weeks the public might be interested in knowing a little more about third party candidates and ideas.
I unfriended someone on Facebook for posting a link to a blog post arguing the Sandy Hook shooting was part of a government conspiracy to distract the public from LIBOR and to institute gun control. I thought the tin foil hats had enough decency to not incorporate this tragedy into their Illuminati discourse. I guess not. Crazy is crazy no matter what the circumstances.
Start by resigning three days after the election. Admit to the affair. Get the story out as soon as possible. Do it when there is enough happening in the news so that most people don’t notice. This doesn’t matter so much, what matters is that reporters know about it so that a year or two from now when you start putting together the exploratory committee reporters don’t waste ink on it. “The affair? That happened two years ago. It’s old news. Who cares?”
So, how long until David Petraeus shows up in Iowa and New Hampshire?
I have to admit a bit of personal weakness since Pres. Obama’s victory. I am feeling a bit of schadenfreude and I don’t like seeing that in myself. If I expect Republicans to change their attitudes and attempt to cooperate with Pres. Obama I shouldn’t be feeling happy about their disappointment in losing.
However, one thing I don’t feel bad about feeling schadenfreude over is the amount of money wasted by right-wing super PACs. Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and “boy genius” Karl Rove all flushed money down the toilet; with a little help from Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.
I think David Axelrod said it best:
The heartening news is that you can’t buy the White House; you can’t overwhelm the Congress with these Super PAC dollars. I would think there will be reluctance in the future, when Mr. Rove and others come knocking on the door, because of what happened on Tuesday.
I hope he is right, but I have some doubts. The problem of money’s influence is not going away. The big money losing this time is not a good reason to be complacent about it. It will be back with a vengeance in the next election.
Most importantly, we should also keep in mind that a lot of money flowed into the Obama campaign coffers this year. There are also liberal super PACs out there. So let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that moneyed interests were completely defeated on Tuesday.