Wednesday, September 15
Equal time, no matter what
The Post this morning contains an amusing little story about John kerry's mispronounciation of the Green Bay Packers' stadium as "Lambert Field," rather than Lambeau Field. This could be a big deal, according to the Post, because Wisconsin (1) is a closely-fought battleground state and (2) really, really loves the Packers. The Bush campaign has been all over it, arguing that it shows Kerry is out of step with the average person, and the Post suggests it could be right:
So, could a candidate lose the state by tripping over the name of a stadium? Probably not, though Al Gore won Wisconsin by only a few thousand votes in 2000 and small shifts can make a big difference in this battleground state this year, state political observers say. "It sort of plays into the perception, right or wrong, that people think John Kerry is an opportunist who when he is not out windsurfing comes in to try to be a regular guy," said Ken Goldstein, a professor at the University of Wisconsin. The latest polls show Kerry down eight points; he was tied in most polls before the gaffe.
So far, all well and good. But the Post throws this in: "Kerry's slip is rookie stuff compared with Bush's verbal blunders, including his famous creation of the word '[misunderestimated.'" But this misses the point entirely. Kerry might be hurt by "Lambert" because it suggests he just doesn’t know the name of the place, feeding his patrician image. Bush might be hiurt by comments like "misunderestimated" because it shows (arguably) that he is dumb or incoherent or something, but not that he is out of touch and patrician. If anything, it is the opposite. So the Post is comparing apples and oranges here, or as a friend of mine likes to say, apples and lawnmowers.
I am not sure if this was driven by some sense of a need for equal time or what, although this sort of consistency has hardly been a feature of the Post's reporting on Bush. On the other hand, maybe they just can't help themselves. Either way, it's more than a bit dodgy, in my humble opinion.