I remember working early the morning after George W. Bush was re-elected. I was on the copy-desk rim, as they say, and the editor-in-chief was consulting with the design editor over the front-page design. Once upon a time on mornings like this, editors looked over their underlings’ shoulders as the finishing touches were being done on the main story. But by 2004, it was all about design, er, “presentation.”
The presentation that day featured a giant, enormous, sea-to-shining-sea headline that said, simply, W. Only huge:
But a lot bigger. It looked like a propaganda poster, which is sort of what it was.
That was a fairly shitty period in my life — back in Indiana after my magical year in Ann Arbor, working a job I didn’t want, thanks to the very woman who was standing next to my desk cooing over this stupid headline. George W. Bush had been returned to office, even though the war he started was going about as badly as these things can go, having done so in part by painting an actual Vietnam veteran as some sort of hybrid coward/rich punk, which is sort of hilariously ironic when you think about it.
I recall reading the page proofs that morning with a grim, sour cloud hanging over my head. But even though Twitter didn’t exist then, and Facebook was only a kooky toy for those with a harvard.edu email address, I can’t imagine going online and posting some of the histrionics I’ve been reading today.
Please, don’t make me go looking for links. I’ve been dipping in and out all day — Facebook, Twitter, blogs, comments here and there. The country has been delivered into the hands of the Muslim enemy, and the end of freedom is nigh and I hope you all enjoy your free stuff, freeloaders. And so on. I had a few chats through the course of the day that sum up how I feel today, but you probably heard the gist if you paid any attention to the news today.
I was in Lansing all day working on Bridge’s day-after package, and I am — I know I say this every day lately — a bit wrung out. I’ll be popping in and out with some of the things that came up over the course of this crazy last few weeks for a while, I think. For now, let me share some of the very fine links I saw today, on this day o’ many links.
I think this was the best of the bunch, about how the right-wing echo chamber collapsed in upon itself and created its own reality, which wasn’t, um, reality:
Conservatives were at a disadvantage because Romney supporters like Jennifer Rubin and Hugh Hewitt saw it as their duty to spin constantly for their favored candidate rather than being frank about his strengths and weaknesses. What conservative Washington Post readers got, when they traded in Dave Weigel for Rubin, was a lot more hackery and a lot less informed about the presidential election.
Conservatives were at an information disadvantage because so many right-leaning outlets wasted time on stories the rest of America dismissed as nonsense. WorldNetDaily brought you birtherism. Forbes brought you Kenyan anti-colonialism. National Review obsessed about an imaginary rejection of American exceptionalism, misrepresenting an Obama quote in the process, and Andy McCarthy was interviewed widely about his theory that Obama, aka the Drone Warrior in Chief, allied himself with our Islamist enemies in a “Grand Jihad” against America. Seriously?
Conservatives were at a disadvantage because their information elites pandered in the most cynical, self-defeating ways, treating would-be candidates like Sarah Palin and Herman Cain as if they were plausible presidents rather than national jokes who’d lose worse than George McGovern.
More on the same theme, from Andrew Sullivan, not one of my faves, but he makes some good points here, but note where he pulls out the out-of-context quoting of an Obama statement.
Can we get a little crazy up in here? OK, here’s David Gelernter. Two paragraphs, and he manages to demand we REPLACE OUR SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES NOW. Doesn’t he work for Yale?
Gerrymandering made visible. I live in one of these districts now. It doesn’t make me happy.
But even a clumsy candidate might have beaten Obama if not for a simple factor that could not be overcome: the GOP’s growing extremism. The Republican strategy of making the election a referendum on the president’s handling of the economy was perfectly sound. The problem was that the Republican Party couldn’t pass the credibility test itself. For many voters disenchanted with Obama, it still was not safe to vote for his opponent.
More tomorrow, when I’ve had seven whole hours of sleep. Until then, enjoy drunk Diane Sawyer.