Saturday, April 19, 2008
If one could graph the degree to which Bush has arrogated unto himself the powers of a dictator, the so-called ‘unitary executive’, the upward curve of such a graph is the mirror image of his ‘popularity’ –at its greatest in the minutes and hours following 911.
Bush’s plunging popularity has had no effect on his ruthless power grab. Public opinion is irrelevant. Bush himself said: “This would be a whole lot easier if this was a dictatorship!” And so it has been for Bush. Any other President committing the same crimes, telling the same lies would have already been impeached, removed, and indicted. Public opinion means nothing to a man who was also heard to say: “Who cares what you think?” Clearly, Bush doesn’t care and proves it daily.
Most recently, Bush’s approval rating has fallen to 28 percent. Some comments about that chosen at random on a the Drudge Report:
The first President in US history who is a complete Dipshit. And 28% of Americans according to this poll still support him. Right !Then 28% of America is dumber than a bag of hair.TigerbalmAre you shittin’ me man? There has never ever, been anyone who was more destructive to the spirit and the letter of the law of the constitution. Never, not even in other countries (except for hitler and stalin and we all know how that turned out). And to tell the truth I don’t believe it’s because he is a megolamaniac or evil or something like that. I believe he is a lethal combination of low intelligence coupled with a strong need to feather his and his friends nests with dollars. to be honest I would prefer the megolamaniac, at least you would know where he is coming from.
The level of frustration is palpable. In the weeks following 911, Bush would not have found it necessary to shut down ‘free speech’ immediately or completely. A repugnant brigade of incipient ‘brownshirts’ were doing that for him. The “Dixie Chicks” were victims of it! The SUV-driving, flag waving, gas guzzling idiots in Houston were ‘self-appointed’ enforcers of the cult of Bush. Certainly, a militant, belligerent mentality would choose a time of national tragedy and mourning to display to the world the behavior of ‘brownshirts’. If the Bush administration maintained even a pretense of accountability —Bush would have already been impeached, resigned, or investigated. Instead, Bush has consolidated his power on several fronts and he has done so in the face of vehement, widespread opposition and revulsion. He has done so despite the fact that most people think he’s a liar and a fraud.Bush holds several trump cards, not the least of which is how he dictates the agenda through the mainstream media. Big media means big corporations. They will pay lip service to equal time even when equal times means balancing truth with more lies. Big corporations spend billions to outshout the independent voice. The assault on “net neutrality” is just one example, but, perhaps, the most pernicious and catastrophic in the longer term. A successful attack on “net neutrality” will most probably bring to an end the existence of blogs like “The Existentialist Cowboy” or, at the very least, it will marginalize them.Media no longer plays the role of the ‘Fourth Estate’; it no longer plays the traditional role of watchdog. Media no longer keeps ‘them’ honest. Some outlets, most notably the Fox network, are no more than the ‘propaganda ministry’ for the administration. More insidious are PBS, CBS, NBC and ABC where the reporting and analysis simply misses the point. Election and campaign reporting, never good, has never been worse. Intelligent reporting and issues analysis are replaced with punditry and other shallow instances of ‘who is ahead’ and why.
When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates’ debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news — in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances..For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with. …–In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC
The Pew Research Center for People and the Press reports that the public shares my sense of disaffection and outrage. Seventy-seven percent against 17 percent want more coverage of issues and less punditry. Fifty-seven percent want real debates. Only 42 percent want more news about which candidate is leading in the polls du jour while fifty five percent want more news about candidates that are not deemed by big media to be “front-runners”. Among other findings from the PEJ-Shorenstein study:
- Just five candidates have been the focus of more than half of all the coverage. Hillary Clinton received the most (17% of stories), though she can thank the overwhelming and largely negative attention of conservative talk radio hosts for much of the edge in total volume. Barack Obama was next (14%), with Republicans Giuliani, McCain, and Romney measurably behind (9% and 7% and 5% respectively). As for the rest of the pack, Elizabeth Edwards, a candidate spouse, received more attention than 10 of them, and nearly as much as her husband.
- Democrats generally got more coverage than Republicans, (49% of stories vs. 31%.) One reason was that major Democratic candidates began announcing their candidacies a month earlier than key Republicans, but that alone does not fully explain the discrepancy.
- Overall, Democrats also have received more positive coverage than Republicans (35% of stories vs. 26%), while Republicans received more negative coverage than Democrats (35% vs. 26%). For both parties, a plurality of stories, 39%, were neutral or balanced.
- Most of that difference in tone, however, can be attributed to the friendly coverage of Obama (47% positive) and the critical coverage of McCain (just 12% positive.) When those two candidates are removed from the field, the tone of coverage for the two parties is virtually identical.
- There were also distinct coverage differences in different media. Newspapers were more positive than other media about Democrats and more citizen-oriented in framing stories. Talk radio was more negative about almost every candidate than any other outlet. Network television was more focused than other media on the personal backgrounds of candidates. For all sectors, however, strategy and horse race were front and center.
Media fixation with every aspect of politics but issues is evidence of insidious media cynicism, an entrenched belief that Americans will not read or understand a story unless it has star quality and celebrity in it. Media fixation with every aspect of politics but issues is also evidence of media that is either out of touch or under the control of the corporate establishment. In the end, public opinion will have literally missed the point and will not matter.