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and another one gone, and another one gone - Diary of a Necromancer
Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
and another one gone, and another one gone


...There, have we all gotten that out of our system now? Good.

In between the media's continuing obsession with Janet Jackson's halftime "show", we have managed to gather enough clues to conclude that Joe Lieberman saw his shadow in Delaware and has now retreated to his hole for four more years of discontented grumbling, leaving six candidates contending for the Democratic nomination; Clark and Edwards have both claimed victory in Oklahoma; and the media are looking about for a shovel to bury Dean with, which I consider to be in poor taste given that the races thus far have only allocated 10% of the delegate total. Haven't decided yet whether the media or Terry McAuliffe's primary schedule deserve the more castigation for the way this year's nomination contest is playing out; of course it was always too much to expect that the media would shut its collective yap in the interests of democracy, but from this tuber's perspective it does seem that the gigglebots have abandoned any pretense of objective neutrality in their presentation of the race. ("Debacle" in particular is not a journalistically responsible way to describe any candidate's showing in a primary race before the primary process is complete -- Wolf Blitzer, I am looking at you, young man) If I Ran The World (TM), the cable news channels would be up on charges for knowingly or effectively attempting to distort the voting process.

The postmodern news cycle appears from this vantage to be in the final stages of tranforming itself into an active obstacle to participatory democracy. The conflicting goals of news-as-Product and news-as-public-good are colliding in a spectacular display of sparks, and it's Product that appears at the moment to be emerging from the other side of the singularity; the media instinct to cover the nominating process as a "horse-race" story, where someone is always ahead of someone who is behind, turns an important national decision into an entertainment story, where the larger goal of the self-governance of the people gets cast aside in favor of the temporary and changing goal of who's in and who's out for this particular cycle. This is exactly why Americans no longer vote in large numbers: we've forgotten why we're doing it. What does it matter, after all, which horse wins the race, so long as we're treated to an entertaining show? And it's only human nature to want to bet on a winner, if that's the way the show is presented.

I'll say it once again: I have nothing against John Kerry, he's always been my own second choice out of the field for Ought-Four, and in an honest nomination contest I'd be happy enough to shake hands and concede that the best man won on a level playing field. And then go on with him to donkey-kick the living crap outta the elephants in the fall.

But this year, the field isn't level. It's not even as level as it was in the Ought-Ought general election, where the media became so enchanted with their cute nicknames and the prospect of further media deregulation that they willingly shifted the burden of unfavorable coverage disproportionately onto one particular side of the equation. Now this dynamic is being reproduced within the field for the Ought-Four primaries, and I find I must stop to question, "Cui Bono?" Whom does this process serve?

It's certainly not doing its stated beneficiaries, the people consenting to be governed, a hell of a lot of good, to have the nomination "contest" decided by fewer than one in ten of them. My state votes dead last, in Ought-Four; five other states have given up on the process altogether and aren't holding primaries at all. J'accuse, Terry McAuliffe! Why can't we seem to come up with a system that doesn't shut out large swaths of our population from the process? I realize that the rationale behind Ought-Four's excessively front-loaded lineup was to determine a nominee sufficiently early on to give him the most possible lead-time to marshall his donkey-kicks for the main showdown in November, but all this arrangement has served to do is to play straight into the media's consuming need to present our democratic processes as entertainment Product. And what do we do, if, as in Eighty-Four [ETA: urgh, make that "Eighty-Eight", dammit], the Anointed One subsequently stumbles from his pedestal before the rest of the race is run?

(And a creepy anecdote to relate, here: Monday night, I was sitting here at Formerly, listening to the news that Mum was watching in the other room. The coverage turned from Janet Jackson's overexposure to the candidate roster, and as Kerry responded to the inevitable question of how he felt on the eve of this round of primaries not with great! but with "Tired", it flashed across my mind that this man is not going to live to see the convention. A random sort of thought, one would say... until Mum, who was watching Kerry's haggard face in the clips, said, "This man is going to die before the convention". Both much creeped-out for the rest of the night, after that incident... and, since I've just found out that my instinct that someone I "knew" was in the CTA train-accident last night was accurate [the hapless febrile has the dubious honor, poor CTA-cursed man], now I'm getting a bit worried about the Psychic Thing. 'S creepy, really.)

feeling: annoyed annoyed
now playing on Radio Earworm: Queen, "Greatest Hits"

3 responses | moved to respond?
febrile From: febrile Date: February 4th, 2004 11:14 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)

Miss Samantha, a few thoughts....

1. BOOBIES BOOBIES. (Nope, still there.)
2. Thank you for an intelligent exploration of the way in which media and news interact, and for positing the Question of the Bottom Line: to whose benefit is the reporting to be?
3. Let's do hope Senator Kerry doesn't keel over dead between now and February. But as a side question, Consitutionally, what would happen if a President-elect were to pass on right before his inauguration? Would the position automatically fall to his vice-president in January? Are there mechanisms for this?
4. Would that I could argue the word "hapless" with you... sigh!
robling_t From: robling_t Date: February 4th, 2004 12:17 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Consitutionally, what would happen if a President-elect were to pass on right before his inauguration? Would the position automatically fall to his vice-president in January? Are there mechanisms for this?

So far as anyone knows, that's roughly what would happen: checking the reference books, I find this Straight Dope column on some of the various scenarios. (I cheated in finding that so fast, I actually have the books in the house and I checked them last night :) )

I think I'll nip round and see what Unca Cecil thinks might happen if it's the nominee-presumptive who bites it... I suspect that it frees up the delegates to shove Mickey Mouse down our throats, but there might be some rules, or something.
supergee From: supergee Date: February 4th, 2004 11:51 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
I say if either Clark or Edwards sends thugs down to Oklahoma to prevent a recount, we should dump the sumbitch, even though it means he's presidential material. We gotta have *some* standards.
3 responses | moved to respond?