Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rolling in his Grave

We have 58 days now till the actual Election. 58 Days in which the American people, buffeted by the storms of political electioneering and ads and nonsense and absolute partisan bloggery (this included, I guess), will try to make sense of what it all means, and what the next four years could be.

You know what would help? It would help if the press -- and I don't mean the bloggers, because from what I can gather, there are a LOT of good bloggers out there (Sullivan, Nate Silver at 538, TPM, and the Jed Report, for starters), but there are always a lot of good, smart commentators who no one listens to, in coffee houses and on campuses and in dorm rooms and by water coolers nationwide -- but if the press -- the mainstream press, what's left of it -- the three networks (yes, three, not four, Mr. Murdoch) -- the ones who 'set the agenda,' who determine what we talk about -- the Times and the Post -- you know, The Press! the Fourth Estate! I think it would be fun to run a newspaper!... those guys....

It would help if The Press would accelerate the process of getting to know Sarah Palin. We don't have, as we had with Barack Obama, a 19 month campaign to get to know her, her background, her family, her policies, her religious views.... We have 58 days. We also don't have, as we had with Obama, a willing subject, someone who wants us to get to know who he is and what he stands for; instead we have someone who was chosen hastily and for strictly demographic and political reasons and who will be sequestered as much as possible, to keep us guessing at who she is and what she believes. (I also think it's quite clear that she's smart as a whip and probably a quick study and will actually do quite well in her appearances, but by keeping her in hiding, so long as she doesn't dribble all over herself and can manage to smile and speak relatively articulately and, more important, confidently, she will be judged a success. She is being sequestered, in short, to continue to lower expectations for her.)

So, Press! Get to it! I want front page articles every day, Gray Lady! I want 'Palin's Rise a Model of Political Inconsistency' or 'Palin's Husband Loaned Money to Himself, Never Paid it Back.' I want Nightline to keep running hard-hitting pieces on 'Troopergate,' I want Katie Couric to sit down with Palin's doctors (especially the one who delivered Trig), I want the Washington Post to rise to the occasion! I want Ben Bradlee storming in and yelling for Woodstein! I want Cronkite to choke back his tears and take off his glasses. I want Murrow blowing smoke and getting in McCarthy's big sweaty face!

Now is not the time for the Fourth Estate to get all timid. This is a golden opportunity for them to take back the reins, and let us all be thankful once more for their existence.

In truth, the one guy I wish were here -- and I'm surprised by this thought, and somewhat mortified, given what I wrote about him in June -- is Tim Russert. For all his flaws, Russert wasn't timid. He probably would have effused, as they all have, my God, over Palin's 'performance' the other night, her high-wattage star-power, but when het got finished with the effusing, he would have relished the thought at going after Sarah Palin on her record.

It was announced today that Palin will finally give her first in-depth interview to a network correspondent - Charles Gibson of ABC. I'm not a fan of Gibson, not at all.... He seems like a classic poseur to me, with his reading glasses perched so ostentatiously down there on his nose, almost like they should be wearing suspenders too, the old newshound.

Prove me wrong, Charlie. I beg of you, prove me wrong. One of you poor ink-stained wretches has a really good chance to win a Pulitzer, and it may as well be you.

Go for it.

1 comment:

Nick said...

I was wrong about Gibson...