March 30, 2008



At the risk of causing some of my readers to have a heart attack, I think Hillary Clinton should stay in the race.

While I can understand why Obama supporters and the overlords of Democratic Party LLC would want her out, I'm troubled by the pressure coming from a media that is not only meant to be objective but, more importantly, is supposed to enjoy politics and not take all the fun out of it.

But then little about the media coverage is normal. Reporters who once used to get their kicks undoing campaign spin and telling tales out of school increasingly treat candidates as abstract symbols of virtue - whether it be of ethnicity, gender or military service - rather than as real people. Issues have become filler material. Some of media bosses are just getting bored or budget wary and pulling their correspondents off the trail entirely.

It seems also that the media has become obsessed - in the manner of the corporate world it admires - in defining winners as opposed to describing the process that leads to victory, which is what democracy is actually meant to be about. If all you need is a winner, a dictatorship does the job a lot easier. If these journalists were sports announcers rather than political correspondents, many TVs would be turned off by the end of the fourth inning as the results were already in: "It is now clear that the Red Sox should get out of the game so unity can return to Major League Baseball." Further, I can't resist the hunch that a number of these journalists are already sucking up to what they perceive to soon be the Obama administration.

It all reflects poorly on the trade. In fact, if the only thing that matters is who won, we don't even need the press. The names on page one and CNN have mostly won and the readers and viewers have mostly lost. It's not much more complicated than that.

But even in the face of the inevitable and the immutable, the reporter can still describe, can still tell stories, can still offer hints to how to avoid it the next time, can still leave a record of how it all happened. I sometimes explain my work as painting pictures on the walls of the Lascaux caves of our times. Even failure offers something worth remembering.

I wouldn't write about politics if I didn't enjoy it as much as others enjoy football. I don't want the game to be over. Besides, there's so much to learn. For example, it has taken us months to discover that Obama isn't Jesus after all and that sometimes he's not even that much of a Democrat. It is a delight - having been berated for over 15 years for my criticism of the Clintons -to find others discovering HRC's casual connections to the truth and that the Clinton operation, like a mob, functions more on loyalty - as James Carville put it - than on more typically democratic principles.

And we haven't even gotten to John McCain. The media, which hates any information more than three months old, will eventually have to drop its myths that the intensely conservative candidate is a maverick and that military service is a synonym for military expertise. Then reality will start to enter that story as well.

This all takes time, especially when more and more journalists don't report the news but rather simply repeat a simulation of it as provided by various campaigns and public relations specialists.

If we're not going to have real reporting, then we going to need more time to find out what's going on. And as Yogi Berra told us, it ain't over til it's over.