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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Silly Voters

by digby

Regardless of whether you like Clinton or Obama, does anyone think it's a good idea for MSNBC to be rude, snide and dismissive about more than a million and a half Democratic voters in Florida (more than double the turnout from 2004)? Isn't there a little unpleasant history of votes not counting down there?

Now I realize that there are no delegates being awarded and maybe there won't be at the convention either. There are people talking about holding a new caucus later in the process so they do a mulligan in the state. And I also know that many people think Clinton is running some sort of scam and that she'll unfairly try to seat her delegates and that it's inappropriate for her to have a rally in Florida to celebrate "winning" etc, etc. Fine. That's all party politics and it's not what I'm talking about. It will be worked out one way or the other.

My point is that actual human beings voted today. If it is inappropriate for Clinton to declare victory it's also damned inappropriate for every gasbag on television to say that all these votes are completely meaningless. They may not add to the delegate count, but they were cast in good faith by American citizens and they should be treated with respect by these jackasses.

I have no idea how it would have come out with a full presidential campaign in the state --- probably differently in a dozen different ways -- but that doesn't mean the media are allowed to act as if the people's vote isn't worth taking seriously, even as they explain why there are no delegates being awarded.

I understand why the Obama campaign is saying that it was only Clinton's name recognition that propelled her higher vote tally. They may certainly be right about that. This is politics and it's fair for them to make that charge. But the Florida Democratic party actually worked to get their people out to the polls even if there wasn't a presidential campaign down there and they deserve at least a little bit of credit for getting so many people out under those circumstances. It's not the news media's job to make a judgment about whether they were right to do so. I have been voting for presidential primary candidates for decades where there was no primary campaign run in my state and while my vote may not have been decisive, I don't recall the news media derisively characterizing the primary voters of California as being dupes and fools for bothering to cast a vote in a state that wasn't being contested.

The contempt these elites hold for the people of this country is unparalleled. They are smirking and laughing and practically rolling their eyes, even as they report that more than a million Florida citizens cast their votes today. Who do they think they are?

Update: Just to be clear: I am not commenting about any of the party machinations, merely that I don't think it's right for news organizations to be dismissive of actual voters. They were rude and obnoxious tonight, not just toward Clinton, which is a legitimate part of the business, but they also acted as if it didn't matter that a million and a half Democratic voters cast votes.

It's just not a good idea to let the media be the arbiters of when voters matter and when they don't. The party will settle this and it's unlikely that Clinton will benefit either from Michigan or Florida unless she wins many more delegates than Obama in other states. It just won't happen. Judging from the coverage it's also highly unlikely she will get any mileage from the "victory" either, so I think everyone can probably relax on that count. Clinton will get no benefit from this and I'm not arguing about this on her behalf. I would say exactly the same thing no matter who was involved. Even Republicans. I am a big believer in voters being respected from way back.

It's not a good idea to have MSNBC gasbags scoffing at any legally cast votes in this country for any reason. It's bad for our democracy --- they tend to be just a teensy bit untrustworthy and stupid when it comes to this stuff. CNN managed to do it quite well tonight, even with various partisans opining on the meaning of it all. MSNBC could have easily reported the thing straight, including that there were no delegates awarded and that there had been no campaign in the state. The alleged journalists and pundits didn't need to get derisive and snidely say things like "I don't even know what to call this thing the Democrats in Florida did today."

I say call it an election, explain what it means and then STFU.