McCain Benefits from the Off-Balance Media

For every major story, the mainstream media establishes a “narrative” — the acceptable characterization of events to which they all adhere, adding their own dashes of bias and creativity. But in this election year, they haven’t yet established a narrative because whenever they establish the pro-Democrat theme du jour, events keep proving them wrong. 

The first narrative was that the Democrats would quickly wrap up their race and leave the Republicans to fight among themselves for months. This, we were told, would be horrible for the Republicans prospects, revealing all their internal divisions and making it impossible for them to later mount a unified front against the Democrats. When that proved incorrect and the Democratic race lumbered on, the media pundits then declared that this was a good thing for the Democrats. The race was generating enthusiasm and huge voter turnout and the candidates were so well-behaved that the party would quickly come together to battle John McCain in the general election. Well, that seems increasingly unlikely with each passing day. (Even Nancy Pelosi can see that a “dream ticket” with both candidates is impossible since Hillary Clinton declared her opponent unqualified to be commander-in-chief.)

What we have seen (contrary to what the constantly off-balance MSM would have liked to have occurred) is that the Democrat candidates have begun to inflict potentially serious and long-lasting damage on each other. More importantly, they have done the work in undermining each other that McCain could never have possibly done himself. And their handiwork is not limited to a single issue.

First, with help from Bill Clinton (who compared Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson) and Geraldine Ferraro (who uttered a truthful but impolitic comment that Obama would not have gotten this far had he been a white politician), Clinton has made race a prime issue in her presidential contest.

There is no secret why. Her chance to capture the nomination lies in capturing the so-called lunch bucket white and Hispanic voters. By lowering Obama’s share of votes among these groups she could maximize her share of elected delegates and bolster her argument with the key super-delegates that Obama would be ballot box poison in November. How can you win in November with 30% of the white, Democratic vote in Ohio? Is the South really in play if Obama’s share of the white vote is below 30%?  These are the questions that Clinton wants Democratic super delegates to ponder.

Moreover, the fundamental issue as to whether Obama would even be in consideration for the nomination if not for his race is one which the Clintons have tossed like a grenade into the Democratic race. It would have been unimaginable for McCain to raise this question himself and the media would have vilified him had he tried. Now he need not do it. The issue is out there and will either serve to torpedo Obama’s prospects for the nomination or perhaps slowly simmer, possibly creating a backlash against Obama among key swing voters in the general election.

Second, both Clinton and Obama have discredited each other as viable commanders-in-chief. As possible McCain running mate Mitt Romney colorfully put it, “Listening to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talk about experience in a national security crisis is like listening to two Chihuahuas argue about which is the biggest dog. When it comes to national security, John McCain is the big dog, and they are the Chihuahuas.”

Clinton’s “3 a.m.” ad and the Obama campaign memo debunking Clinton’s foreign policy credentials have given McCain the equivalent of millions of dollars in free ads for a key message: he is the only one qualified to be commander-in-chief in a time of war. Clinton has already begun mocking Obama’s willingness to hobnob with the world’s dictators and Obama has already excoriated Clinton for flip flopping on the Iraq War. Whichever one gets the nomination, McCain will have plenty of material for YouTube videos.

Third, the Clinton campaign has reminded everyone of the worst of the Clinton White House years. You can remind people of the dysfunctionality of the Clinton White House, the egomania of Bill and their “throw the kitchen sink” style of attacking political opponents, but seeing is believing. In news story after story, we have gotten a glimpse of the vicious backbiting among campaign aides and their collective inability to control Bill. “[Expletive] you!” appears to be the most common phrase uttered in Hillaryland. Again, McCain would have been hard pressed to raise the “nightmare of the Clinton years” as a campaign issue. Not to worry. Hillary has re-enacted them for everyone to see.

Fourth, Obama’s reticence to agree to “do over” primary elections in Florida and Michigan (to allow the previously disqualified delegate contingents from those states to be seated) belies the Democratic commitment to “make every vote count.” Suddenly, voter “security” and “fraud,” not maximizing voter participation, are paramount concerns. (I suspect, however, Obama still would oppose minimal anti-fraud measures like photo i.d. requirements.). The fewer opportunities for Clinton to catch up in the delegate count the better from his perspective. But the result, if he successfully blocks these votes, will be a massive convention fight and millions of aggrieved voters, especially in the key swing state of Florida. So if McCain needed evidence that the Democrats are really only committed to letting “every vote — that helps — count” or if he could have used a leg up in an important state for November, he can thank Obama.

So once again, the MSM will need another narrative. The notion that the Democrats’ interminable battle is somehow a boon to their chances in November can now be tossed on the heap with their other faulty prognostications. And McCain owes both Clinton and Obama a debt of gratitude: they have given voters every reason to reject them both.