Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tim Russert RIP

Tim Russert was a fine journalist - clearly a guy who loved his country but did not let that get in the way of reporting the good, the bad, and the ugly of our American experience.

I do have to agree with this Slate Article, however, that suggests the media has spent more time on Russert than was warranted by his many years of fine journalistic service to NBC. Of course the media *always* gets relevance totally wrong. Network news spends at most a a few minutes monthly discussing the Military spending despite the near-insanity of the current US Military budget (even though you pitch in thousands as an average taxpayer, I bet you cannot guess this number to within #100,000,000,000 of the right answer. Yet you think this is probably money well spent? It is not. Yes, you should be ashamed and NO, this extraordinary level of waste, fraud, and abusive spending is not keeping the USA safer than smart spending would. Also YES, we should be cutting social services massively as well. The founders would be completely outraged about how Government has absorbed so much productivity in the name of good national stewardship.

Swiftboating backlash?

Although historically negative advertising has been very effective in many elections, I think the upcoming Obama and McCain campaigns have the potential to change the way elections are run. Not so much because they are virtuous - though I think both candidates are good guys - but because voters may actually have become sophisticated enough to reward a higher road.

This may be too optimistic but clearly Obama's campaign against Clinton appeared to benefit from taking a higher road. When Clinton attacked in debates and in advertising, Obama usually paried rather than fought back. I think many Americans found this very appealing. Clinton supporters feel that she was treated unfairly by press and by the Obama campaign but I think on balance both the Democratic and Republican primaries were dignified and without nearly the amount of negative campaigning there could have been given the years of political and personal baggage from most of the candidates involved in the races.

In terms of Obama vs McCain I think Obama has a huge edge in the sense he can easily lable McCain a Washington insider as he talks about Obama vs McCain's "change" themes. On the other hand McCain cannot label the young and politically inexperienced Obama much except as being young and inexperienced - arguably very desirable traits to many Americans in the current election as long as the candidate is smart and appealing as Obama certainly appears to be to most.