August 08, 2008

Let the closure commence...Edwards admits he did have sexual relations with that woman, but was not the baby-daddy...if true, the Democrats can slot him just before Elvis, Wednesday night at the Convention. As far as days to leak the story, the day the Olympics starts is almost as good as Super Bowl Sunday.

August 05, 2008

The Panty-Sniffers Manifesto: Mickey Kaus gamefully tries to provide an ex post justification for obsessing about the comings and goings of a former Senator from North Carolina, and some of what he says bears true. Edwards remains an important figure in American politics, and even if the recent rumors about him are correct, stands to play an important role in any future Democratic Administration (fortunately for Edwards, the "scandal" is coming out almost a half-year before any future Obama Cabinet is selected, more than enough time for the public to come to terms with the issue). If he's been cheating on his dying wife (the woman whom Kaus sarcastically has named, "St. Elizabeth"), he's disgusting.

But he doesn't quite explain why he's so obsessed with the issue, why he has spent almost the last two weeks writing about nothing but this story, which so far hasn't progressed much beyond the charge that Edwards was in the same thousand-room hotel as his alleged mistress in the wee hours of the morning, or Kaus' demand that other organs of the "MSM," particularly the Los Angeles Times, should drop every other story they're working on to focus on this tawdry episode. Kaus didn't spend two weeks hectoring others when another newspaper made some rather similarly-vague allegations about John McCain and a blonde lobbyist, or even when the National Enquirer identified a woman who was Bill Clinton's mistress last month.

I mean, it's not like there's a Presidential campaign going on, or an Olympic Games about to start. It's no wonder that the Times is losing readers, when it insists on breaking stories about the identity of the real Anthrax Terrorist and other such trivia, rather than letting its bloggers regurgitate this week's Enquirer headline.

There is a good reason why the National Enquirer, in spite of its rather lame record in defending libel suits, still enjoys one of the largest circulations in the country. People who are interested in gossip, who enjoy panty-sniffing and everything that comes with it, who can't get through the week without a crotch-shot of Britney or Lindsey, can have their interests sated through the Enquirer. If the Enquirer wants to send two reporters to stalk a failed Presidential candidate with an interesting personal life, then let them. That sort of reporting is a different skill set from the type of reporting that breaks the Anthrax story.

But there should be newspapers for those of us who aren't focused on that sort of thing, who think a pol's proclivity for adultery is not the most important thing in the world. For us, we expect that a newspaper is going to be cautious when it reports, that it doesn't simply repeat hearsay, particularly from gossip rags. If the Times (or, more appropriately, one of Edwards' home state newspapers, where he continues to be an important public figure in spite of his unsuccessful role on the national stage), does pursue this story, or better yet, any such story involving McCain or Obama, then it should apply the same investigative standards it applies to any other story it covers.

August 04, 2008

Andrew Sullivan, on the "Aragula Card":
For all McCain's personal qualities, we're learning that the machine behind the GOP simply re-makes the campaign in its own Coulterite image. Instead of actually fighting on the core questions - how do we get out of Iraq with the least damage? how do we get past carbon-based energy? how do we tackle al Qaeda's new base in Pakistan and within the nuclear-armed Pakistani government? how will we reduce the massive debt bequeathed us by the Bush-Rove GOP? how do we restore the Geneva Conventions? - we are debating people's cultural insecurities and food choices.
I suspect that McCain's recent improvement in the polls has come at a cost: the perception that he was a different type of Republican politician, one who campaigned with a sense of honor and integrity, is gone. Something like this happened in the summer of 1980, when Jimmy Carter overturned a double-digit lead by Ronald Reagan to pull even in the polls, by going hard negative against his opponent. That turned out to be a short-term palliative: once the American people were reminded of how crappy the economy was, and discovered that Ronald Reagan wasn't as much of an ogre as he had been portrayed by Carter, the jig was up. But it did make that race closer for most of the campaign than it had any right to be.

UPDATE: And one of Senator McCain's more famous contributors agrees.