Politico's Jeanne Cummings on MSNBC about half an hour ago, discussing Michelle Obama's popularity:
She's doing much better than what people thought. There was a time during the campaign in 2008 when lots of Republicans thought that Michelle Obama could become some sort of liability.
Hmmmm. I don't remember that sentiment being limited to Republicans; I remember a lot of reporters expressing it as well. Reporters like ... Jeanne Cummings Politico colleagues. Let's fire up The Nexis, shall we?
Jim VandeHei & John Harris, Politico, 3/17/08:
The GOP has proven skilled at questioning the patriotism of Democratic candidates. Just ask John F. Kerry, defeated presidential candidate, and Max Cleland, defeated senator, if such attacks work in the post-Sept. 11 political environment.
They will blend together Wright's fulminations with quotes of Michelle Obama saying her husband's candidacy has made her finally proud of America with pictures of Obama himself sans the American flag on his lapel (the latter a point that has thrived in conservative precincts of the Web and talk radio).
In isolation, any of these might be innocuous. But in the totality of a campaign ad or brochure, the attacks could be brutal, replete with an unmistakable racial subtext.
Glenn Thrush, Politico, 8/25/08:
Plastic bags stuffed with big M-I-C-H-E-L-L-E signs are being loaded into the Pepsi Center for a prime-time speech by would-be first lady Michelle Obama. Her tasks are twofold: to introduce herself to the convention as a strong-willed, nonthreatening surrogate who has always been proud of her country - while portraying her Barack as a messy, absent-minded, regular dad who likes playing with his daughters when he's not out inspiring the millions. How she is received could determine how much she is used on the road this fall.
Mike Allen, Politico, 8/25/08:
Michelle Obama set out to reassure voters Monday that she would leave the governing to her husband and would not be a domineering White House presence.
Nia-Malika Henderson, Politico, 3/28/09:
Traditional? Hardly. In fact, Obama's approach so far is decidedly different from the usual model of the modern first lady - pick a platform of two or three issues and stick to it, by and large, for four years.
Yet in the midst of all those themes, it isn't yet clear whether her self-described core messages - about military families, volunteerism, and helping working women balance work and family life - are truly breaking through. Some wonder if she's spreading herself too thin to emerge in the public mind as a leading voice on those topics.
[F]or some, Obama's multi-tasking approach to the job raises the specter of Rosalynn Carter, who was dogged early on by questions of whether she was taking on too much and trying to be all things to all people. Ironically, some are raising the same "too much, too fast?" question about Michelle that they're raising about her husband, the president.
As for her more official three-issue platform, branding expert Hodgkinson said that for Obama, "the broader mission is to install herself in the psyche of the country and then after that take a look at what does she then wants to advance and can reasonably advance. "
Military family issues might not be the right fit, she said.
"When you think about military families it's not a connection you first make with the first lady," she said. "Without that natural pull, it's going to be a harder campaign especially if people's ears are turned elsewhere."
But now that Mrs. Obama has proven to be quite popular, Politico's Jeanne Cummings wants you to think it was just the Republicans who thought she'd be a liability -- just forget all about what Politico wrote about her.
The Associated Press seemed to be laying on the rhetoric a bit thick here [emphasis added].
In an epic upset in liberal Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown rode a wave of voter anger to defeat Democrat Martha Coakley in a U.S. Senate election Tuesday that left President Barack Obama's health care overhaul in doubt and marred the end of his first year in office.
Obviously, since virtually every poll in the last seven days showed Brown leading the race, the AP was not suggesting that the Republican's victory shocked people last night. So I'm assuming what the AP meant was that it's just astonishing that a Republican could win a state-wide election in "liberal Massachusetts."
But is that really so astounding? From today's WSJ:
For starters, Massachusetts simply isn't as heavily tilted toward Democrats as widely thought. The state had a Republican governor for 16 straight years, until Democrat Deval Patrick was elected in 2006.
UPDATED: Politico declared the Brown win to be "historic," even though Politico never bothered to explain what made the victory "historic." (I think Politico just liked the ring of it.)
UPDATED: If Scott Brown had defeated Ted Kennedy, now that would have been an "epic upset."
Yet another indication that the media's near-constant efforts to hype the "Palin phenomenon" are misguided:
Palin, and daughter Bristol, reportedly took home $100,000 from In Touch to appear on the cover and in photos.
But the Palin family issue, according to Page Six, only sold roughly 500,000 copies on newsstands, "about half the number it sold a few weeks ago with the late Brittany Murphy on the cover."
Oh, ok. One more:
A new CBS News poll finds that a large majority of Americans say they do not want former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to run for president.
Specifically, 71 percent say they do not want the former Republican vice presidential nominee to run for president, while 21 percent say they do want her to run.
When the results are split out by party, 56 percent of Republicans say they do not want her to seek the office and 30 percent do. Meanwhile, 88 percent of Democrats do not want her to run. Among independents, 65 percent do not want her to run and 25 percent do.
The poll also finds that more people view Palin negatively than positively and that her book tour did not improve overall views of her.
As Eric Boehlert notes, "Now that we have (yet another) clear picture of Palin's low standing with the public, hopefully the political press corps will stop treating her online press releases (i.e. Facebook posting) as news. They're not. And most Americans don't seem to care about her."
But don't tell Andrew Malcolm -- it would break his heart.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank -- Dana Milbank! -- slams White House press secretary Robert Gibbs as a "smart-aleck":
Gibbs acts as though he's playing himself in the movie version of his job. In this imaginary film, he is the smart-alecky press secretary, offering zippy comebacks and cracking jokes to make his questioners look ridiculous. It's no great feat to make reporters look bad, but this act also sends a televised image of a cocksure White House to ordinary Americans watching at home.
And how many "ordinary Americans" are "watching at home" as Gibbs holds his daily press briefings? Basically, none. Milbank must know that, so I can only assume that what he really means is that he doesn't like the way Gibbs behaves. Too bad he isn't honest enough to make that clear rather than pretending he's channeling millions of Americans outraged over the performance of someone they've never heard of in a press briefing they never watch.
Gibbs didn't quite get it, though, as CBS's Chip Reid joked that he would try a question on "a different topic: the election in Massachusetts."
The press secretary drummed a bah-dum-bum on the lectern. Reid ignored the percussion and asked whether the "groundswell of support for a Republican in the blue state of Massachusetts for a candidate who's running against the president's agenda" meant that "the White House has simply lost touch with the American people."
Gibbs gave another dismissive wave and cited a CBS News poll that wasn't about Massachusetts.
Wait: Gibbs was asked whether the White House has "lost touch with the American people" and he responded by referring to a national poll, and Dana Milbank is upset that the poll "wasn't about Massachusetts?" That's inane. And it's a pretty clear indication that Milbank went looking for examples to fit his thesis rather than for a conclusion to fit the examples at hand.
Cramer late last week:
What does a Brown election mean...? Well, first you're going to get a knee-jerk rally in all the so-called penalized stocks -- the HMOs, the drugs, the medical device-makers. I call it "knee-jerk," though, because these stocks have been on fire for months...It's been clear as a bell that the health care reform wasn't going to affect most health care stocks. That's versus what we thought last year.
More important, though, I think that investors who are nervous about the dictatorship of the Pelosi proletariatwill feel at ease, and we could have a gigantic rally off a Coakley loss and a Brown win. It will be a signal that a more pro-business, less pro-labor government could be in front of us...How about a little bit less like the old Soviet Union? Yeah, that would be a bit more like it. Pelosi politburo emasculation!
Hmm, because in the wake of Brown's win last night, the Dow Jones has been down since the opening bell, and often down dramatically, falling nearly 180 points in Wednesday's trading.
UPDATED: The Dow just dropped below 200 points for the day. Still waiting for Cramer to comment.
Before this year it would been absurd to even ask whether one of America's largest TV networks was going to set aside an hour of primetime to broadcast the President of the United States' State of the Union Address. It would be absurd because I don't think a U.S. TV network has ever not covered the POTUS' SOTU. The address is considered to be sort of the bare minimum that broadcasters do in terms of providing some sort of public interesting programming during the calender year, aside from regularly scheduled newscasts.
So naturally Murdoch's Fox TV will cover the SOTU, right? I haven't seen anything definitive since the SOTU date of Jan. 27 was recently announced, but I honestly have my doubts because Murdoch has made it quite clear that Fox TV has decided to virtually ban Obama from its primetime. Fox TV started doing it with Obama's WH press conferences, and then Fox TV took the extraordinary step of denying the president airtime when he addressed a joint session of Congress to discuss historic health care reform. (Obama-less Fox TV got trounced in the ratings that night, BTW.)
So, given that precedent why would Fox TV broadcast the State of the Union? Execs there clearly don't believe they have any public interest obligation, despite the fact that Fox uses the public airwaves for free and banks tens of millions of dollars in ad revenues each year off those public airwaves.
Being realistic, I agree there's a chance that Fox TV will relent and make room for Obama next week. But if Murdoch does make room, all the move will do is confirm the obvious partisan motivation for snubbing Obama's health care address last summer. Because if the SOTU is good enough for Fox TV to telecast (i.e. an Obama address to a joint session of Congress), than why wasn't last summer's health care speech? (i.e. Also an Obama address to a joint session of Congress.)
Doesn't it become glaringly obvious that Fox TV refused to air the president last summer because Fox TV didn't like the topic on the table? Doesn't it become clear that Fox TV is picking and choosing when it will air Obama based on the politics in play?
Here's the Wall Street Journal's headline on an op-ed by a trio of conservative activists:
Health Care Is Hurting Democrats
New polling data show that voters know exactly where candidates stand.
And here's their explanation:
How do we know that it's the health-reform bill that's to blame for the low poll numbers for Democratic Senate candidates and not just that these are more conservative states?
First, we asked voters how their incumbent senator voted on the health-care bill that passed on Christmas Eve. About two-thirds answered correctly. Even now, long before Senate campaigns have intensified, voters know where the candidates stand on health care.
Wow. That's totally not what "voters know exactly where candidates stand" means. The three found that "about two-thirds" of votes know whether their Senator voted for or against the health care bill -- but that's far, far different from knowing what is and is not in that bill. Voters don't "know exactly where the candidates stand" simply because they know how the candidates vote; they also need to know what that vote means.
Put another way: A voter who thinks the health care reform bill contains Death Panels and would outlaw private insurance but knows that Harry voted for the bill is, under this construct, a voter who "knows exactly where the candidates stand" -- even though he is, in fact, completely wrong about where the candidate stands.
That's obvious nonsense.
Politico's Glenn Thrush:
Conservatives are right to trumpet the Brown-Coakley race as a referendum on health care reform -- but it turned out to be a referendum with no decisive victor on the defining issue, according to a postgame analysis by pollster Scott Rasmussen.
... versus Politico's David Catanese:
Scott Brown's opposition to congressional health care legislation was the most important issue that fueled his U.S. Senate victory in Massachusetts, according to exit poll data collected following the Tuesday special election.
One possible reason for the disagreement? The exit poll Catanese relied on was conducted by Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, though Catanese doesn't tell readers who commissioned the poll.
Boy, talk about being off-script. Today is supposed to be the day for the press to wallow in the collapse of Obama's first term; to pronounce his presidency a failure in light of the Massachusetts defeat Tuesday night.
But wouldn't you know it, the AP goes and releases a poll that shows Obama enjoying a robust 56 percent job approval rating. Technically, that's not a bump, since the same AP poll had Obama at the same spot last month as well. But the results are certainly good news for Obama, considering that 56 percent practically doubles the approval rating of Obama's predecessor during his second term. That 56 percent also puts Obama comfortably ahead of where Ronald Reagan was at this juncture of his first term, and just about where Bill Clinton stood 13 months into office.
But that's not the story the press wants to tell, so look for the AP results to get scant coverage. Because as we've seen for months now, only the polls that show Obama's popularity declining are deemed to be truly newsworthy.
From an op-ed in the January 20 edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal by publisher Sherman Frederick:
After a full year, the people have grown weary of a president who talks pretty, promises much and delivers nothing. The misery facts don't lie: Obama Nation has brought us a 10 percent unemployment rate (1.7 million more people unemployed today than a year ago); almost $2 trillion of new outstanding public debt, and 139 bank failures.
Add to that the arrogance of a leader who thinks he's so much more self-aware than the presidents before him that he must apologize to the world for American "selfishness" (U.S. relief to Haiti, hello?), while at the same time failing to enact policies to keep Americans safe from al-Qaida terrorists, and it is no wonder Democrats find themselves in a woozy state this morning.