Stupid Media Misconceptions
The worst thing by far about the current political situation is the quality of the political analysis. It’s not all poor, of course, but about ninety percent of it is, and that ninety percent includes most of the mainstream media (and I include outlets like talk radio and conservative columnists in the term “mainstream media”). The lines of political commentary are drawn within a set of preconceived ideas, a distressingly large number of which have no basis in fact.
The Republican Party Is Dead
The GOP might not be permanently dead, but the convention wisdom is that it is comatose for the foreseeable future. The GOP’s two consecutive bad elections, and gloomy demographic projections (the older white voters who make up the party’s base are dying off) mean that the Republican party as we know it is dead. It will only return after a long period of self-examination, and a complete makeover.
The defection of Arlen Spector the Democrat party is touted as a example of this phenomenon. Because if the Republican party can’t keep a very liberal senator whom conservatives have hated for years and is facing a tough primary challenge within its ranks, who can it keep?
The people who support this theory—practically everyone, as even most conservatives think the Republican party must be wholly redefined—ignore the fact that the Democrat party four years ago was supposed to be just as dead as the Republican party is now. They didn’t really change anything (though the conventional wisdom at the time was that the Democrat party would have to adapt to “values voters” in order to stay relevant), and won the next election two years later.
So many veteran columnists, with years of experience behind them, seem to forget that the political scene changes. Issues that aren’t important in the least one year are vitally important the next. In 2004, “security moms” and “values voters” drove the GOP to victory; four years later, the important issues were getting out of Iraq and the economic crisis.
The Republican Party Must Move On From Traditional Conservatism
The idea that the “new conservatives,” like David Frum and Meghan McCain are the new face of the Republican party is ubiquitous. Liberals cheer this change, since it would move the Republican party much closer to their beliefs, while conservatives fear it for the same reason. No one ever seems to notice that Frum, McCain, and the rest don’t seem to have many followers.
In fact, they don’t really seem to have any. David Frum, Kathleen Parker, David Brooks, and others have soapboxes, but the only people listening are those who disagree with them, either liberals who want them to join the Democrat party or conservatives who vow to never let their ideas infect the Republican party. Few of their followers actually seem to agree with them. There certainly aren’t enough to form a grassroots movement to remake the party. The rank and file of the GOP still listens to Rush Limbaugh, and without them the “New Republicans” don’t have a chance of doing anything to really change the GOP.
Barack Obama Is the Greatest President Ever (So Far)
This idea is mostly held by liberals invested in Obama’s success. Not surprisingly, given that his party controls the House and Senate, Obama has gotten much of his agenda through. His supporters point to that fact as evidence of his success.
Unfortunately for them, Obama will only be successful if his policies work. And it’s impossible to tell whether they will or not after only one hundred days. But there are signs, at least, that his presidency won’t be the triumph his supporters think it already is. Obama has quadrupled the deficit, the economy shows few signs of improving, and his administration has not yet proven itself to be very competent, as demonstrated by Obama’s difficulty in filling his cabinet, and the embarrassing New York City flyover scare. In addition, Obama’s approval ratings, while still high, are lower than those of other presidents at the same point in their presidencies, and have come back to earth.
Obama’s presidency may be a resounding success. But there isn’t any evidence to support that claim, and can’t be till much later in his presidency.
Barack Obama Is the Worst President Ever
This is the conservative flip side of the “best president ever” meme. It’s just as stupid, too, and for the same reason—it’s only been one hundred days. It is far too early to make any judgments about the course of Obama’s presidency. So far, Obama has acted like a typical Democrat—high taxes, high spending, lots of regulation. That’s bad news for conservatives, but many voters like that sort of thing, and Obama certainly isn’t doing anything that you wouldn’t see Hillary Clinton, or John Edwards doing.