Courtesy of Dawn Arnold of the Frye Festival, here is what Adam Gopnik wrote in the guest book after appearing at the Festival’s Fall Reading Series:
I’m a partisan but have been making, I hope, fair comments about the Republicans and the way they are enabled by the mainstream media, thanks primarily to the toxic relationship of both with Fox News.
However, there is an x factor that the Democrats never fail to contribute and is best expressed by the quote, reproduced above, by the great American humorist, Will Rogers.
That’s not to draw a false equivalence: the Republicans are unregenerate cynics perpetually on the take from rapacious corporate interests whose lobbyists now write “legislation” whenever Republicans hold a majority. But it would help if the Dems were not such trembling feebs when it comes to a fight it matters to win. Does anyone think, for example, that just because the Dems did not prosecute the Bush administration for the war crimes it undoubtedly committed, the House Republicans will not now use its restored subpoena power to create the impression that Democrats are responsible for every crime dating back to original sin? The Republicans are unsurpassed at the narcissistic art of projection: they attribute to the Dems the crimes they are actually guilty of and thereby inoculate themselves against accusation. If the Democrats had bothered just to investigate the Bush administration and exposed its crimes until they could no longer be credibly denied, that’d have been much harder to ignore on Tuesday.
Remember the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the ultimately bogus Whitewater “scandal.” That is always how it’s played. Minority Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky declared late in the campaign that his one priority is to “ensure that Obama is a one-term president.” That’s the priority. Not the stagnant economy. Not nighmarishly chronic unemployment. Not the unimaginably vast corruption on Wall Street. Not two losing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His one fully declared aim is to destroy the Obama presidency. And he’ll do that while pursuing an agenda to maintain a ridiculously low and crippling tax rate for the richest 5% of the population; and he’ll do that while refusing to cut entitlements or defence spending. Because although the Teabaggers talk a good game about fiscal responsibility, it’s clear they want their entitlements: they just don’t want others (people with dark skin, the poor, the young) to have them.
Again, the Republicans are nihilists, the party of nothing. And, as Edmund Spenser observed, that kind of evil is a sort of inflated absence of goodness that requires just one prick to make it pop into its proper non-existent state.
That makes being a prick in this instance a virtue.
Andrew Sullivan has a post up today demonstrating that while it did not affect the outcome, two pollsters — Fox and Rasmussen (essentially the propaganda wings of the Republican party) — skewed Republican support by 3-4% throughout the entire election cycle by not including any cell phone-only users in their data at any point. That’s why we saw numbers like these in amalgamated poll results: Republicans, 50%; Democrats 41%. The actual numbers were 49% and 43%. But Fox and Rasmussen were providing the GOP with ludicrous 13% leads, and that tilted all of the data heavily in the party’s direction. And it can’t be that they didn’t know what they were doing — they were outliers the entire time and they knew what the effect on polling averages would be.
Now, again, it didn’t affect the outcome directly, but the Dems nevertheless had more support than was registered — and, by no coincidence — among the demographic Republicans fear most and have a self-interest to exclude: young, urban, liberal.
There’s also a cynical self-fulfilling prophecy about all of this; if people think an election’s a forgone conclusion (which of course is what Fox was screaming at the top of its lungs for weeks on end), then the so-called “enthusiasm gap” (also shrieked about endlessly) may be fed until it is feeding itself.
The point is that this is a familiar Republican trick: voter caging — to keep, by whatever means possible, either directly or indirectly, Democrats away from the polls. And it is, moreover, enabled by a lazy and incompetent mainstream news media which prefers “narratives” to facts.
At the very least, it demonstrates that pollsters must now make a point of polling cell phone-only users. If they do not, they are effectively staking the Republicans an advantage every time that does not actually represent voter intent — which of course makes pollsters not only useless, but dangerous to the democratic process.
“Linz,” third and fourth movements
On this date in 1783 Mozart’s Symphony 36, “Linz,” premiered in Linz, Austria.
Frye in “Expanding Eyes”:
I am by no means the first critic to regard music as the typical art, the one where the impact of structure is not weakened, as it has been in painting and still is in literature, by false issues derived from representation. For centuries the theory of music included a good deal of cosmological speculation, and the symmetrical grammar of classical music, with its circle of fifths, its twelve-tone chromatic and seven-tone diatonic scales, its duple and triple rhythms, its concords and cadences and formulaic progressions, makes it something of a mandala of the ear. We hear the resonance of this mandala of musical possibilities in every piece of music we listen to. Occasionally we feel that what we are listening to epitomizes, so to speak, our whole musical experience with special clarity: our profoundest response to the B Minor Mass or the Jupiter Symphony is not “this is beautiful music,” but something more like “this is the voice of music”; this is what music is all about. (CW 27, 407)