Hear Ye, Hear Ye
So I hear that Village High Commissioner Tim Russert declared that we have a Democratic nominee. The Town Crier, Drudge, immediately followed with an official announcement The real leadership of our nation --- the punditocricy -- have handed down their decision. Hallelujah!
Very early this morning, after many voters had already gone to sleep, the conventional wisdom of the elite political pundit class that resides on television shifted hard, and possibly irretrievably, against Senator Hillary Clinton’s continued viability as a presidential candidate.
The moment came shortly after midnight Eastern time, captured in a devastatingly declarative statement from Tim Russert of NBC News: “We now know who the Democratic nominee’s going to be, and no one’s going to dispute it,” he said on MSNBC. “Those closest to her will give her a hard-headed analysis, and if they lay it all out, they’ll say: ‘What is the rationale? What do we say to the undeclared super delegates tomorrow? Why do we tell them you’re staying in the race?’ And tonight, there’s no good answer for that.”
It was not exactly Walter Cronkite declaring that the Vietnam War would end in stalemate. But the impact was apparent almost immediately, starting with The Drudge Report, the online news billboard that is the home page to many political reporters in Washington and news producers in New York. It had as its lead story a link to a YouTube clip of Mr. Russert’s comments, accompanied by a photograph of a beaming Mr. Obama with his wife, Michelle, and the headline, “The Nominee.”
It reminds me of the halcyon days for Democrats in November 2000, when Russert used his little marking board to show us "the math" and declare that Gore needed to bow out for the good of the country. Good times. (And when did that GOP washing machine Drudge become an "online news billboard?")
Look, I have the same analysis of the outcome of the elections in Indiana and North Carolina that most people have this morning. Clinton's best argument --- which was essentially that the voters were taking a second look at Obama and showing some buyers remorse --- didn't pan out last night. And there's nothing wrong with political junkies sitting around the virtual pot-bellied stove and saying the race is "over" or exhorting her to drop out. We're citizens and, in some cases, political players. There is, however, something unbelievably distasteful about a handful of powerful, millionaire, celebrity pundits "declaring" such a thing and having the paper of record breathlessly report it as if it was decisive and meaningful.
Who the fuck anointed Tim Russert as the final arbiter of anything? His job is to analyze the political landscape not declare the decision as if he were some kind of Roman Emperor giving a thumbs up or thumbs down. It's bad enough that these gasbags put those thumbs on the scale as hard as they do, but actually taking the initiative to say when the race is over is even worse. To coin a favorite Village phrase, "it's not their place."
It may be that last night really was the tie breaker that showed that Obama's campaign could withstand some harsh press and rebound from setbacks. It's not a bad thing for Democratic voters to test that out and give him some practice. If he's the nominee and then the president, he's going to have to get used to it. But if it is the end, as I think many of us suspect, it's for Senator Clinton to be the one to declare it, not Tim Russert or any other fatuous overpaid Village gasbag who is no more insightful or informed than any of you.
The idea floating around, even in the blogosphere, that once Tim Russert "says it" it's true is so galling that I can hardly keep from projectile vomiting. Giving him that power will come back to bite us hard down the road.
By the way, the rumor I'm hearing this morning is that the Obama campaign actually approves of the idea of her going on through West Virginia and Kentucky in order that he not lose a couple of races by large margins just after he becomes the presumptive nominee. There is some wisdom in that idea. I have no idea if it's true.
I think we all see the writing on the wall. Obama has plenty of money and there is no great problem if this thing goes on for a couple of weeks. I think everyone should relax about the campaign and start regrouping around the ideas that brought us here --- one of which is the fact that the mainstream media are tools, that Drudge is a Republican pimp and that our nation is not well served by a bunch of corporate whores who all sit around sipping mojitos on Nantucket playing with our politics like they are a rousing game of cribbage.