“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

october surprise

"There will be some surprises," newsguygeorge intoned solemnly, and indeed there were. When Spacedark, Jr. read the Amarillo Independent's endorsements, he sputtered, "I thought that was a Democratic paper!" His strict demands that people adhere to the party line can perhaps be forgiven; he is, after all, in middle school. Iman's more adult response was no less livid for its maturity:

Unfrakinbelievable!! You guys really didn't endorse Kinky!?!! Did you watch the debate? He has no grasp of the issues, makes funny one liners and says he'll hire the best to figure it all out. I've had enough of voting for likable characters, hoping they hire the best. You should have just said no to whatever he was smoking during his campaign tour.
When I read Iman's comment, I at first thought he was joking. When I realized he wasn't, I like a codependent relative tried to come up with an excuse for the Amarillo Independent's aberrant behavior. Perhaps, I thought, they were merely reacting to the attitude implicit in Spacedark, Jr.'s comment. Maybe they just wanted to prove, in their first set of endorsements, that they were truly "independent".

Frankly, though, I hate that sort of thing. It reminds me of all the pseudo-intellectual alt freaks I knew down in Austin who hated popular music just because it was popular. If you react against the mob by predictably hating the tastes of the masses, you are still being controlled by them. If you can't think for yourself, just stay in the mainstream where we can see you. We're all safer that way.

Unfortunately, even that excuse gave newsguygeorge and the Indy way too much credit. Listen to them explain why they didn't endorse Chris Bell:
Bell has electoral experience, serving as a representative from Houston in the U.S. House. His seat was gerrymandered out of existence, an unfortunate event and a loss for the Houston area.

We like Bell and we like some of his stances. But Bell’s Web site is obtuse and connecting up with the candidate to get a real bead on him, even for a friendly media outlet, is difficult. It’s also too bad that this candidate lacks charisma, something needed for the bully pulpit, because Texas governors don’t have much else to offer in the way of power.
We can't figure out his web site and can't get in touch with him. Maybe I can shed some light on this inscrutable stance from the Indy. Back in July, George e-mailed me asking if I knew how to get in touch with Bell, and saying his web site was "useless". I assume he wanted to interview Bell or something. I sent him the e-mail for Jason Stanford, Bell's media contact, which I found on his . . . uh . . . website.

But you know what? I have Chris Bell's private e-mail— I just didn't give it to George. In the early days of his candidacy, Bell and I corresponded a bit after the blogger conference calls in which Chris was very accessible and forthcoming. I am quite certain that Chris reflected on this correspondence as he molded his positions during the early campaign. I didn't give the e-mail to George because I promised Chris I'd keep our e-mails between us. For the same reason, I won't detail them here, but obviously I found him in the conference calls and in the e-mails to be neither obtuse nor difficult to connect with.

I have probably, in fact, said too much here, but I believe it necessary to defend the candidate.

Chris Bell demonstrates his lack of charisma and access.

I also hate "brutal honesty": too often it is merely brutal and not particularly honest. But just that, to my dismay, is necessary now. It looks from here like the editorial board of the Amarillo Independent is exercising the Kim Jong-il option. Insecure of their status, they are throwing a nuclear hissy fit because someone hasn't paid them the proper respect. Jeez-- what would the local progressive community, too small already by far, be like if everyone exhibited such two-year-old behavior? Maybe we'd all make endorsements like the Indy's endorsement of Barbara Ann Radnofsky:
Incumbent Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, meanwhile, has not responded to a request in July to meet with the Indy . . . Our endorsement of Radnofsky reflects not only our agreement with her positions and what we believe she can do for her constituents but also is a condemnation of the arrogant self-satisfaction of the worst kind by Hutchison, whose salary all of us pay and from whom we get little in return.
Again, there's plenty to recommend Radnofsky without stooping to petty complaints about lack of access to Hutchison.

Two observations are of note here: First, we're just lowly bloggers, slogging away at this part time. But we acquired enough access to Bell to write decent commentary and to unequivocally endorse him, for what it's worth. George is a professional reporter who should just stop whining and do his job.

Secondly, the quid pro quo or else! attitude implicit in the Indy's non-endorsement is one of the things that is wrong with the mainstream press. If the "Amarillo Globe-No-News" had endorsed on such a basis George would have been the first to condemn them. It's sad, but mortifyingly predictable, that the Indy chose to so quickly become the enemy.