What it all may have meant

You are reading this after the election, but it’s being written before the election. That might seem to make analyzing the results difficult. Actually, it doesn’t. Some pre-election thoughts on post-election matters:

Sharron Angle aired ads that were racist and dishonest, and both agreed with and denied some of her own recorded statements. She still received a lot of votes.

Now, bear with me. You can share—even justify—her opposition to government playing the role in our society that it plays (it might surprise you that I can make that argument, and do, in some cases). You can so disagree with or dislike Harry Reid that you refused to cast a vote for him. But if you punched the button for Angle, how do you then claim you don’t sympathize with the racism, dishonesty and hatred that characterized her campaign? The answer is you can’t. That says a lot about us, or you, and what it says shouldn’t please you. Nor should you be terribly pleased with yourself if you didn’t stand up to it. We’ve come a long way, baby, but we clearly have a long way to go.

Did anyone notice whether the Republican Senate Campaign Committee paid for a lot of ads on behalf of Angle? It sure didn’t look like it. Does that tell us anything? Possibly that she didn’t need the help. One theory floated before the election was that liberals might be happier with Dick Durbin of Illinois or Charles Schumer of New York as Senate Democratic leader. The inverse is at least as interesting: Republican senators might prefer to deal with Reid, who is more moderate than the aforementioned Democrats.

A theory about the Rory Reid campaign from the outset was that being on the ballot with his father would hurt his chances with those who often invoke the Bible but still visit the supposed sins of the father upon the son. Let’s try the theory from the other direction. For Reid to have called for higher taxes might have appealed to some voters but cost him many others, since voters on both sides prefer not to acknowledge reality. Perhaps he should have suggested that the solution to the state’s problems is closing down its government wherever people dislike government, so only Clark County should have any services. But whatever Rory Reid said might have hurt his father’s chances, and so he couldn’t tell some of the truths that needed telling, any more than his father could.

The wisest man who never lived, Adam Schiff, the district attorney on Law & Order, once told prosecutor Jack McCoy, “Your credibility is not a boomerang. Give it up and it doesn’t come back.”  That the Las Vegas Sun favored the major Democratic candidates was obvious, but it also reported a great deal on the merits and failings of both sides. The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s coverage of the Reid-Angle race was a journalistic embarrassment—not merely because the R-J skewed its coverage so heavily against Reid, both in layout and in reporting on the race, but that it was so transparent and thus incompetent about doing so.

This begs some questions. First, did that coverage actually matter? It certainly didn’t help Reid, but whether the R-J (or the Sun, or any other publication) actually affected any votes can be debated from now until doomsday. Second, should we expect anything else? The R-J and Sun­ historically have tilted one way or the other, often depending as much on personal feelings as partisanship, and newspaper publishers and editors tend to be human beings, even when columnists aren’t.

This year’s campaign ads were the most negative in memory, and that’s going back some. But negative campaigning continues because it works, and it will keep working until we refuse to accept it. So, live with it, or stop it. But quit complaining about it.

Speaking of which, the media want the candidates to discuss issues. How many really in-depth stories did you read or watch about issues, as opposed to reports on the races and the campaigns? Physician, heal thyself. Then again, the patients could use some help, too. Good thing they got health care reform.

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