November 12, 2002
I'M TAKING MY BALL AND GOING HOME:Bumming Out on Politics (Howard Kurtz, November 11, 2002, Washington Post)
There's a certain amount of press grumbling during every campaign. Why are these battles so scripted, so superficial, so negative? Why all the attack ads? Why does voter turnout keep dropping? Why has politics become so poisonous?
But in the '02 version, there's a new level of resignation, even disgust. Campaigns are less filling and don't taste great. They're not much fun anymore, these pundits say.
Is there a certain degree of nostalgia for the good old days that never were? Perhaps. But there's little doubt in this sound-bite era that politics has changed, and not for the better.
Then there's the question of issues. Bill Clinton showed you could win a presidential election on alderman-type issues – school uniforms, community policing. Members of Congress were paying attention.
In baseball, it's called small ball. Teams use singles, bunts and sacrifices to try to move the runner from base to base and squeeze out a couple of runs. It's a very different style than playing for the big inning and the three-run homer.
The midterm elections seemed small because most candidates finessed the two biggest issues: Iraq and the Bush tax cut. The Democrats rushed to give the president a green light for attacking Saddam to get the issue off the table, and they offered no real alternative on the economy because they were afraid to challenge the tax cut. The result was a whole lot of sparring over phony issues like prescription drugs – phony because both parties refused to do anything about it this year – and nasty, exaggerated attacks on opponents.
No wonder it tasted like weak tea. The Republicans did well because their voters turned out and the president apparently made a difference. But it was not a big-picture election.
Mr. Kurtz goes on to sample a vast number of Leftish pundits who don't think politics is fun anymore. Similarly, Martha Stewart doesn't think insider trading is as much fun as it used to be. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 12, 2002 11:55 AM